The Forest: A Fable of America in the 1830s Spiral-Bound | March 7, 2023

Alexander Nemerov

★★★☆☆+ from Up to 30 ratings

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A vivid historical imagining of life in the early United States

“One of the richest books ever to come my way.”—Annie Proulx, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Shipping News

“This is a wonderful book. . . . An extraordinary achievement.”—Edmund de Waal, New York Times bestselling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes

Set amid the glimmering lakes and disappearing forests of the early United States, The Forest imagines how a wide variety of Americans experienced their lives. Part truth, part fiction, and featuring both real and invented characters, the book follows painters, poets, enslaved people, farmers, and artisans living and working in a world still made largely of wood. Some of the historical characters—such as Thomas Cole, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Fanny Kemble, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nat Turner—are well-known, while others are not. But all are creators of private and grand designs.

The Forest unfolds in brief stories. Each episode reveals an intricate lost world. Characters cross paths or go their own ways, each striving for something different but together forming a pattern of life. For Alexander Nemerov, the forest is a description of American society, the dense and discontinuous woods of nation, the foliating thoughts of different people, each with their separate shade and sun. Through vivid descriptions of the people, sights, smells, and sounds of Jacksonian America, illustrated with paintings, prints, and photographs, The Forest brings American history to life on a human scale.

Published in association with the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Publisher: University Press Group Ltd
Original Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 0691244286
Item Weight: 1.37 lbs
Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.01 x 8.5 inches
Customer Reviews: 3 out of 5 stars Up to 30 ratings
"For each scene, [Alexander Nemerov] seems to have asked himself not merely how things would have looked in the 1830s but also how they would have sounded, felt, tasted and smelled. The Forest is easily one of the most pungent books I’ve read, an encyclopedia of vintage odors. . . . After you’ve read this book, most other cultural histories will seem as stale as the straw on the floor."---Jackson Arn, Wall Street Journal
Alexander Nemerov is the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University. His many books include Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York and Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine (Princeton).