The Desert, Further Studies in Natural Appearances

John Charles van Dyke (1861 - 1931)

The Desert by John Charles Van Dyke, published in 1901, is a lush, poetic description of the natural beauty of the American Southwest. "What land can equal the desert with its wide plains, its grim mountains, and its expanding canopy of sky!" Van Dyke, a cultivated art historian, saw "sublimity" in the desert's "lonely desolation," which previous generations had perceived only as a wasteland, and his book has a conservationist flavor which seems distinctly modern. "The deserts should never be reclaimed," he writes. "They are the breathing spaces of the west and should be preserved for ever." The changing colors of the sky, hills, and sand impress Van Dyke, as do the mirages. He celebrates the "long overlooked commonplace things of nature"-- cactus and grease wood, desert animals, and "winged life," the birds and insects. His writing has a philosophical undertone. "Not in vain these wastes of sand ... simply because they are beautiful in themselves and good to look upon whether they be life or death." Anyone who views with equal awe fiery sunrises and weeds growing out of pavement cracks will enjoy this reading of Van Dyke's The Desert.(Summary by Sue Anderson)

Genre(s): *Non-fiction, Nature, Travel & Geography

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 00 00 - Dedication-Preface Sue Anderson
Play 01 01 - The Approach Sue Anderson
Play 02 02 - The Make of the Desert Sue Anderson
Play 03 03 - The Bottom of the Bowl Sue Anderson
Play 04 04 - The Silent River Sue Anderson
Play 05 05 - Light, Air, and Color Sue Anderson
Play 06 06 - Desert Sky and Clouds Sue Anderson
Play 07 07 - Illusions Sue Anderson
Play 08 08 - Cactus and Greasewood Sue Anderson
Play 09 09 - Desert Animals Sue Anderson
Play 10 10 - Winged Life Sue Anderson
Play 11 11 - Mesas and Foot-Hills Sue Anderson
Play 12 12 - Mountain - Barriers Sue Anderson