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Companion to A Sand County Almanac

Interpretive and Critical Essays

J. Baird Callicott

Publication Year: 1987

The first sustained study of Leopold's seminal book as well as a work of art, philosophy, and social commentary.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

AIdo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac has brought a generation to a groundswell change in environmental consciousness and conscience. For all its charm and apparent simplicity, A Sand County Almanac is as incisive and complex as it is transformative. This volume brings together twelve interpretive and ...

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pp. 3-13

AIdo Leopold died, suddenly, in the spring of 1948, shortly after his slender volume of essays, then titled Great Possessions) had at last been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press. Luna B. Leopold, his second eldest son, saw the manuscript through the process of editing and production. The book was ...

I. The Author

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1. Aldo Leopold’s Early Years

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pp. 17-39

Ordinary eyes would have found little to commend in the wasted acres that AIdo Leopold and his friend Ed Ochsner first looked over on that chilly day in January 1935. The land was all but barren. On one side of the road, young poppIes fringed a frozen marsh. On the other side, in what once were a farmer's fields ...

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2. Aldo Leopold’s Sand Country

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pp. 40-62

We are interested in the convergence of a person and a place-a person who has come to be regarded as a prophet in the evolution of a new relationship between man and land, and a place little known and undistinguished save as it stimulated in that person and others a heightened sensitivity and deepened respect ...

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3. Aldo Leopold’s Intellectual Heritage

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pp. 63-88

The Greek word oikos) meaning house, is the root of both economics and ecology. Over time the significance shifted from the house itself to what it contained-a living community, the household. Economics, the older of the two concepts, concerns the study of how the community manages its material resources. Ecology ...

II. The Book

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4. The Making of A Sand County Almanac

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pp. 91-109

The evolution of the text of A Sand County Almanac and of Aldo Leopold's thinking about the substance and the structure of the text during the time of its formation (from November 1941 to April 1948) is discernible in the correspondence, essay drafts, and other manuscripts contained in the Leopold Papers at the ...

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5. Anatomy of a Classic

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pp. 110-127

Compared to other genres in the library of English literature, natural history writing fills only a modest shelf. Yet here too one can find genuine classics such as Gilbert White's The Natural History of Selborne (1789), Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle (1839), Thoreau's Walden (1854), and John Muir's My Fim Summer in the ...

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6. The Conflicts of Ecological Conscience

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pp. 128-153

Few books do more than A Sand County Almanac in themselves and in the history of their publication and reception, to illustrate the complexities of ecology as it appeared on the American scene in the late 1960s and early 1970S. Few books have satisfied the conceptions of ecology of more readers than Sand County has ...

III. The Upshot

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7. The Land Aesthetic

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pp. 157-171

Aldo Leopold's original contribution to environmental ethics is universally acknowledged and appreciated. 1 His essay "The Land Ethic" in A Sand County Almanac though to one degree or another anticipated by Thoreau, Darwin, and Muir, is the first self-conscious, sustained, and systematic attempt in modern Western ...

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8. Building “The Land Ethic”

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pp. 172-185

When Aldo Leopold conceived his essay "The Land Ethic" he could not have foreseen the breadth of its influence. A generation has passed since the full essay first appeared in the pages of A Sand County Almanac yet it continues to grow in importance. Students read it. Journalists quote it. Environmentalists live by ...

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9. The Conceptual Foundations of the Land Ethic

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pp. 186-217

As Wallace Stegner observes, A Sand County Almanac is considered "almost a holy book in conservation circles," and AIdo Leopold a prophet, "an American Isaiah." And as Curt Meine points out, ''The Land Ethic" is the climactic essay of Sand County "the upshot of 'The Upshot."'1 One might, therefore ...

IV. The Impact

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10. A Pilgrim’s Progress from Group A to Group B

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pp. 221-232

"Rest! cries the chief sawyer, and we pause for breath." My eyes fell upon the brass plaque, recently fastened to a large boulder near where the "good oak" had once stood (not far from "the shack"), and waves of nostalgia and emotion washed over me as my mind quickly retraced the events that led me here, and the ...

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11. The Legacy of Aldo Leopold

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pp. 233-245

In 1949 a University of Wisconsin professor of ecology named Aido Leopold published a book of essays called A Sand County Almanac. It is a famous, almost holy book in conservation circles. Conservationists know Leopold also as the originator (with Bob Marshall) of the idea of permanent wilderness reservations in the ...

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12. Duties to Ecosystems

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pp. 246-274

"The plant formation is an organic unit . . . a complex organism." 1 So Frederic Clements, a founder of ecology, concluded from his studies in the Nebraska grasslands. Henry Gleason, a botanist of equal rank, protested, "Far from being an organism, an association is merely the fortuitous juxtaposition of plants." 2 ...


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pp. 275-280

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pp. 281-288

These essays deal with the ethics and esthetics of land. During my lifetime, more land has been destroyed or damaged than ever before in recorded history. As a field-worker in conservation, I have seen, studied, and measured many samples of this process. During my lifetime, the stockpile of scientific facts about land ...


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pp. 291-293


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pp. 295-308

E-ISBN-13: 9780299112332
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299112301

Publication Year: 1987