The Relationship Between Edward Abbey and Nature

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In Desert Solitaire

It seems that Edward Abbey is very determined to isolate or separate nature and himself from humans, human culture, and human ideals. He asserts, "The personification of the natural is precisely the propensity I would like to subdue in myself, and completely eliminate. I am not only here to avoid the demand and obscenity of the cultural tool, but also to possibly confront the basic bones of existence, the essential and vital, the bedrock that sustains us. I wish to be able to look into and at a spider, a juniper tree, a vulture, and a piece of quartz and see it as it is in itself, without any form of humanly attributed qualities" (Abbey, 2016, p. 7).

However, Edward Abbey is a human himself. And there exists a struggle between his actions and his ideals.

When the author describes the Arches

in his book, he also writes about his feelings about them. He claims, "I feel an outrageous greed and possessiveness engulf me. I wish to know it all, possess it entirely and intimately, embrace the whole scene totally and deeply the way a man longs for a beautiful woman" (Abbey, 2016, p. 6). Abbey’s statement reveals his love for the Arches, which he wishes to possess intimately.

Abbey argues that dying in the desert

is less dreadful to him. He views it as a better alternative compared to "rotting slowly in a hospital oxygen tent, having rubber tubes fixed up your prick, nose, and asshole, with intravenous feeding, blood transfusions, aids of bad-tempered nurses, bedpans, and bedsores" (Abbey, 2016, p.103). His sentiments reveal his dislike for science and modern technology and his preference for nature.


Abbey, E. (2016). Desert solitaire. Paris: Éditions Gallmeister.

August 21, 2023



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