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The Immense Journey: An Imaginative…
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The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of… (1946)

by Loren Eiseley

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
read in 1980's sometimes. It's a bit dim in my memory. Had some likable writing. Theme does not stick with me. ( )
  Bruce_Deming | Feb 5, 2016 |
It takes a lot to get me to reconsider my worldview. This book did it. Fantastic. ( )
  trilliams | May 30, 2015 |
A beautiful work of meditations on the natural world and the human journey through it, pervaded by a kind of tragic sensibility that isn't usually associated with nature or science writing, but is thoroughly wise and appropriate. This book sat unread on my shelf for years, what a loss! I'm so grateful I finally picked it up; it's a touchstone now. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
This book was fantastic; for the sheer fact that it is about evolution :) but also for the way that Eiseley tells us about evolution. This is textbook material but it doesn't read like a textbook. It is actually fairly poetic. This makes sense because on top of being an Anthropologist, Eiseley was an “imaginative naturalist”. He paid close attention to the world around him. Half of the members that were reading the book said that the book started out dry for them, but I never found the book dry in any part. Granted, I read this kind of material all the time for my classes, but if the reader has some background in Anthropology the book is very easy to get though. The book is a little dated and there were some parts where I could see the difference of theories due to modern knowledge about the brain and shifts in evolution. But overall, the same concepts are still discussed today. And Eiseley doesn’t just give us the facts of his day, but his thoughts as well and his experiences. Some of it I have never even thought to think about. The book isn’t very long, but it doesn’t make for a quick read. Reading this book makes you stop and rethink the way you picture the world and your place in it. It makes you want to go out and dig for bones; it makes you want to go into wilderness and just listen. This is a powerful book. You don’t have to be an anthropologist or biologist to read this and get something out of it. I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a wonderful book. ( )
  Kassilem | Feb 17, 2013 |
This is a fantastic book.

There are places where Eiseley’s prose is absolutely beautiful. Consider this excerpt, plucked from a random page:

“The stolen energy that would take man across the continents would fail him at last. The great Ice Age herds were destined to vanish. When they did so, another hand like the hand that grasped the stone by the river long ago would pluck a handful of grass seed and hold it contemplatively. In that moment, the golden towers of man, his swarming millions, his turning wheels, the vast learning of his packed libraries, would glimmer dimly there in the ancestor of wheat, a few seeds held in a muddy hand.” (“How Flowers Changed the World”)

If the whole book were like this, it might be florid and unreadable. But it’s not: the poetry never lasts for very long. Eiseley deploys it strategically, to get his readers wondering or marveling. And then, instead of just going on and on until we’re glutted and bored, he shifts to an explanation or reflection or anecdote. We have to start thinking again. And then there’s another dollop of stunning beauty; the constant switch-ups keep the reader engaged and interested and following along as Eiseley makes his argument. I find the technique to be incredibly effective.

The substance is mostly equal to the style. It’s true that there’s a great deal of artifice and affect: Eiseley is very careful about how he presents himself, and it’s entirely possible that some of the incidents that he relates here are terrific lies. Even if that’s the case, though, they’re offered in the service of important and beautiful ideas. “The Secret of Life,” for example, suggests that the precise origins of life (if we ever discover them) may end up telling us far less than we assume. Eiseley does not start out with theses, or declare his arguments in advance, so it would perhaps spoil the essay to say more. I’ll simply point out that he makes a compelling and intuitive point that we (or at least I) routinely and inexplicably overlook.

I withhold half a star mainly because of the bits on human origins. Compared to the other essays, they’re long on detail and short on wonder. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what Eiseley does best. The problem is compounded by the fact that some of the information is now thoroughly discredited; scientists today don’t really believe what Eiseley says about “boskopoids,” for example. That’s not really his fault, but it’s a second strike against what I already took to be the weakest part of the book.

Make no mistake, though: you should read The Immense Journey. I myself intend to read it again. And when I do, I’ll savor all of it, weak parts included. ( )
  LorenIpsum | Mar 22, 2012 |
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dedicated to the memory of
CLYDE EDWIN EISELEY,
who lies in the grass of the prairie frontier
but is not forgotten by his son
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394701577, Mass Market Paperback)

Anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley blends scientific knowledge and imaginative vision in this story of man.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:55 -0400)

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