Title

Out of Despair, Into the Wilderness: A Study of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Gary Snyder's Myths & Texts

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

1997

Advisor

Mara Faulkner

Abstract

Annie Dillard and Gary Snyder are both contemporary American writers. Though Dillard's and Snyder's styles, concerns, and preoccupations differ, the narrators in Dillard's narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Snyder's long poem Myths & Texts undergo spiritual progressions that are astonishingly similar. Each narrator moves out of the dualistic world view of modern science into an experience of the world's paradoxical nature. Dillard and Snyder both create, through metaphor and mythopoeia, visions that offer an alternative world view from that of the despairing modern wasteland. I call my theoretical approach ecological criticism, and after performing close readings of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Myths & Texts, I explore Dillard's and Snyder's understandings of themselves as writers in a modern world. I find that Snyder makes the ethics implicit in his vision real in the political world and sees his poetry as sustainable, passing through him, while Dillard burns herself up by attempting to hold her powerful vision in her hands without doing anything with it.

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