The Story of my Heart

Richard Jefferies
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ISBN 9780571243341 Format Paperback
Published 29/05/2008 Length 222 pages

About Book

The Story of My Heart, first published in 1883, is one of the stranger autobiographies in the English language. It describes almost nothing about the writer's life, education, family or work. Opening with a mystical experience on a green hill in the south of England seventeen years before - the date is exact, in a book that is otherwise so exalted above mere facts - it is the record of the author's striving for 'soul-life', for communion with the beauty of nature.

In impassioned prose, with echoes of Blake and Shelley, Jefferies relates the history of his feeling of identification with the sun, wind, space and the pulse of natural life. The book is a prayer to the physical world, a pantheistic rejection of modern urban life and technique: 'the sun was stronger than science; the hills more than philosophy'.

Some of the most striking passages in The Story of My Heart are descriptions of the controlled chaos of London, which represented for Jefferies the vortex of modern modern human life, a force that is 'driving, pushing, carried on in a stress of feverish force like a bullet'. A neglected classic of English nature writing, The Story of My Heart speaks to today's ecological concerns in the language of another era.

  • About Richard Jefferies

    Richard Jefferies was born in 1848 and died in 1887. The son of an unsuccessful farmer, he had an impoverished childhood. His early novels were failures, but his love of the countryside, and a spell as a gamekeeper, allowed him to start writing pieces on nature and landscape for the Pall Mall Gazette. These were collected as The Gamekeeper at Home (1878) and Wildlife in a Southern County (1879). Their simplicity and exactness of description of rural life established his reputation, which grew with The Amateur Poacher (1879), Hodge and His Masters and Round About a Great Estate(both 1880). Hodge and His Masters is an important portrait of rural labour just before the great agricultural depression swept away many traditional crafts and settlements from the English countryside. Jefferies' most famous book today is After London (1885), a dystopian novel set in an England whose industrial society has catastrophically collapsed.

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