The PEP Reading Group will discuss Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire as part of its Fall 2018 series. This semester’s series explores literature of the West, beginning with a novel about homesteaders in Wyoming in the late nineteenth century and ending with essays published in the late 1960s that incited environmentalists to help save the Southwest from destruction from industrial harm.
First published in 1968, Desert Solitaire is one of Edward Abbey’s most critically acclaimed works and marks his first foray into the world of nonfiction writing. Written while Abbey was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah, Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man’s quest to experience nature in its purest form.
Through prose that is by turns passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world as well as his own internal struggle with morality. As the world continues its rapid development, Abbey’s cry to maintain the natural beauty of the West remains just as relevant today as when this book was written.
Convened by Dr. Margaret Garb and Dr. Barbara Baumgartner, the Prison Education Project Reading Group (est. 2014) convenes each semester in the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center to consider a series of texts. Designed to sharpen participants’ reading and critical thinking skills, increase expose to significant and interesting texts, and to promote an intellectual environment within MECC, the Reading Group also builds up the skills needed for participants to become successful applicants to the Prison Education Project.
Image: Haystack, Thomas Hart Benton, 1938, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston