BACK TO NATURE: The Arcadian Myth in Urban America by Peter J. Schmitt

BACK TO NATURE: The Arcadian Myth in Urban America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A volume in the Urban Life in America series, this is about the city mouse in country mouse's clothing, during the period from the turn of the century to after WW I when ""back to nature"" became a major preoccupation of the urban middle class. The Arcadian myth is not, however, to be confused with the agrarian myth, for the sudden mania for wilderness jaunts and suburban backyards was a far cry from back to the farm. "" 'Living in the country without being of it,' one commuter suavely announced, meant 'allowing the charms of nature to gratify and illumine, but not to disturb one's cosmopolitan sense.' "" With a gentle irony of tone and playfulness of style to relieve his fairly fact-crammed account, Prof. Schmitt traces the rise of gentleman sportsmen, wildlife photographers, literary commuters, popular nature writers, wilderness novelists, bird watchers, and landscape architects, and the proliferation of parks, playgrounds and country clubs, the ""safety valve of an overworked nation."" Nature education invaded the schools, summer camps sprouted up to ""control moral backsliding during the summer vacation,"" and Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls captured leisure time for the outdoor spirit. Yet the city continued to thrive through it all, and the urgency of the nature movement gradually evaporated. A well-executed examination of a perennial theme in a specific context.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1969
ISBN: 0801840139
Publisher: Oxford