The first trees I knew well were the apples and pears in the garden of my childhood home.

John Fowles (1926–2005) is widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the twentieth century—his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, been turned into beloved films, and been popularly voted among the 100 greatest novels of the century. To a smaller yet no less passionate audience, Fowles is also known for having written The Tree, one of his few works of nonfiction. First published a generation ago, it is a provocative meditation on the connection between the natural world and human creativity, and a powerful argument against taming the wild. In it, Fowles recounts his own childhood in England and describes how he rebelled against his Edwardian father’s obsession with the “quantifiable yield” of well-pruned fruit trees and came to prize instead the messy, purposeless beauty of nature left to its wildest. The Tree is an inspiring, even life-changing book, like Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, one that reaffirms our connection to nature and reminds us of the pleasure of getting lost, the merits of having no plan, and the wisdom of following one’s nose wherever it may lead—in life as much as in art.”

The Tree was an interesting essay, though I’m not very knowledgeable about this sort of thing. Though this book has inspired me to learn about related works. I must admit that I read through The Tree rather quickly; perhaps at a later date, I will read it more in-depth, which it certainly deserves. 

I didn’t totally understand all of the ideas expressed in the book, but I really liked John Fowles’s writing style; it was very British, and I like that sort of thing. Sometimes, he tended to ramble on in a rather incoherent way, but overall, his points made sense, and for the most part, I agreed with him. No, it’s not that his language was incoherent; more that it wasn’t easily understood. Several times, I had to pause and read over what I had just read again. 

As I said, most of the time I agreed with what the author had to say, and he brought up some new things for me to ponder, more specifically when he was talking about the pre-Victorian model of science and how it had its appeal to it. I can certainly see that. 

The Tree was an interesting little book or large essay, and I enjoyed reading it. I can’t say that I picked it up myself; it was my mom, and I thought it looked worth reading. John Fowles was apparently an accomplished novelist, and perhaps I shall try some of his fiction.

Read The Tree:

  • if you like John Fowles 
  • if you like essays
  • if you are interested in treatises on nature

91 pages.

 
Very Good! I would recommend this book!
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