The Story of my Heart
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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.
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