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Introduction to Abbeys Web

Edward AbbeyWelcome to Abbey's Web, a WWW site dedicated to the life and works of author Edward Abbey.

If you do not know who Edward Abbey was, please keep on reading. Below you find a couple of introductions and a few excerpts from his books to give you a flavor of his writing. Also check out the Quotes database for some randomly selected wisdom.

You find out more about Edward Abbey in the Biography section, and in the Bibliography section you find information about every book he wrote and books others have written about him. The readers of Abbey's Web have contributed their own works, see these in the section Reflections and if you are interested in discussing with them, join the mailing list.

I hope you'll enjoy Abbey's Web! If you are interested in why and how I created this site, please read my article Weaving Abbey's Web which was published in the Arid Lands Newsletter.

Christer Lindh,
Stockholm, Sweden


Abbey Video cover"When Edward Abbey died in 1989 at the age of sixty-two, the American West lost one of its most eloquent and passionate advocates. Through his novels, essays, letters and speeches, Edward Abbey consistently voiced the belief that the West was in danger of being developed to death, and that the only solution lay in the preservation of wilderness. Abbey authored twenty-one books in his lifetime, including Desert Solitaire, The Monkey Wrench Gang, The Brave Cowboy, and The Fool's Progress. His comic novel The Monkey Wrench Gang helped inspire a whole generation of environmental activism. A writer in the mold of Twain and Thoreau, Abbey was a larger-than-life figure as big as the West itself."
-- cover text from the Edward Abbey Video

Meet Edward Paul Abbey, twentieth-century polemicist and desert anarchist, a character of elaborate contradictions and eccentricities whose words either infuriated or delighted his readers.

In a career spanning four decades, he wrote passionately in defense of the Southwest and its inhabitants, often mocking the mindless bureaucratic forces hell-bent on destroying it. "Resist much, obey little," from Walt Withman, was this warrior's motto.

While he was alive, attempts to label him in conventional terms nearly always fell short because he was neither left-wing nor right-wing, nor was he an outlaw. Abbey was a genuine rebel who simply did not believe in the moderns industrial way of life. He wrote against the grain, always choosing the path of the greatest resistance. Beginning in the 1950s, he depicted the Southwest not as a virgin utopia peopled by rugged individualists, but as a region under siege because of government and corporate greed, its people at risk of being cut off from the primary wellspring of their spiritual strength - the wild places. He's been dead for a while now, but the legend keeps in growing.

-- from Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist

Edward Abbey became known as an "environmental writer". This title was not of his choosing, nor to his liking. He preferred not to categorize his style at all, but rather to "let his prose do his talking for him."

Placing a label on Edward Abbey's style would be akin to picking up all the grains of sand in the desert South-west, putting them in a large glass container, and labeling that container "Desert". What Ed wrote about was the Earth, and his deep love of it. Whether he was writing about two snakes engaging in a mating ritual in Utah, or about a slow train ride across the Australian desert to Alice Springs, the Earth itself functions as the medium, and not something made up or manufactured by the author. To begin to understand Abbey, you must first take his advice to heart:

"Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the Canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the...cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe."

Kent Duryee

"Edward Abbey is one of our foremost Western essayist and novelists. A militant conservationist, he has attracted a large following -- not only within the ranks of Sierra Club enthusiasts and dedicated backpackers, but also among armchair appreciators of good writing. What always made his work doubly interesting is the sense of a true maverick spirit at large, within it -- a kind of spirit not imitable, limited only to the highest class of literary outlaws" -- The Denver Post

Edward Abbey is a writer. He writes about how to blowup dams. The name of one of the books he wrote was called Monkey wrench gang. He wears a black hat with a wrench on it. Ed has a gray elephant beard and he's a tall, skinny man. Ed does not like the highway so he throws beer bottles out the window. Ed does not like t.v. so the took his t.v. outside and took his gun and shot his t.v. and now it's a sculpture in his backyard."
-- grade-school composition by Brady Barnes


Edward AbbeyFor a taste of Edward Abbey's writing, please read this excerpt from the chapter Terra Incognita: Into the Maze in his book Desert Solitaire.

"Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you --- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."
Edward Abbey

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