Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes in 1878 about his 140-mile (225 km) hike through the mountains and fields of central France. Stevenson’s book was prophetic—he spoke so eloquently about our need to reconnect with the natural world in the early stages of the industrial age. That was a time when most educated people were wild about machines and factories and could not yet imagine their negative consequences.
|Robert Louis Stevenson, around the time he wrote |
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes
|Wildflowers in the Cévennes mountains|
|Hiking near the Stevenson trail, in Bougès, France|
In our own era, when our 24/7 connection to mobile phones, computers, and other devices severs us even more from the natural world, it’s not surprising that so many people want to disconnect from virtual reality and reconnect with actual reality. The extraordinary effect of Stevenson’s book a century and a half later shows how much impact an author can have over time—provided the author, like Stevenson, has foresight, authenticity, and original turns of phrase that touch the lives of others.
Zack’s most recent book of poems, Irreverent Litanies
Zack’s most recent book of translations, Bérenice 1934–44: An Actress in Occupied Paris
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