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Confessions of a Barbarian (1994)

Book coverSubtitled Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey

A selection from Abbey's journals by David Petersen, a long-time friend of Edward Abbey. This book is a must for anyone interested in Edward Abbey.

The other Confessions of a Barbarian

In 1986, Capra Press released in paperback an excerpt from a work in progress which later became The Fool's Progress. This was called Confessions of a Barbarian. Read more about this book on the page for Fool's Progress.

Cover text

"I celebrate the Earth, my home, my mother, my grave, and as long as men are Man they must, if they would preserve the integrated being, do the same -- [and preserve] with it the body -- this rank casual hungry smelly sweaty lusting transitory body, my oozy pulpy liquid-bag-swollen body, bones, blood, hair, glands, my bejeweled sex; I love and celebrate it all. Never to let men forget that they are animals as much as gods -- that is one thing I shall say.

From the above, certain theorems naturally derive: If the earth and the animal are valuable, then every earth-born man and woman, every animal, has an inherent right to a portion of this earth, to its produce, to its free air, its seas, sands, mountains, deserts and sunrises -- this means some kind of socialism, social justice, economic democracy, decentralized, voluntary, cooperative; and a spacious commonwealth, with lots of room for all (birth control) in the Green Utopia. Here is something to fight for that will never desert me in my lifetime."

Edward Abbey was an anarchist, activist, philosopher, and the spiritual father of the environmental movement. He was also a passionate journal keeper, a man who filled page after page with notes, philosophical musings, character sketches, illustrations, musical notations, and drawings. His "scribbling," as he called it, began in 1948, when he served as a motorcycle MP in postwar Italy, and continued until his death in 1989, totaling twenty-one volumes.

His journals are the closest thing to an Abbey autobiography we will ever have. They reveal his first youthful philosophical ruminations about art, love, literature, and anarchy as a student in Edinburgh; follow his wanderings through Europe, Scandinavia, and the eastern United States and finally to his spiritual home, the American West; record his many loves and marriages; and chronicle his lifelong struggle to preserve the disappearing southwestern wilderness, as well as his bitter and often hilarious disputes with the East Coast intelligentsia. His journals contain the first inklings -- backgrounds, narrative pictures, and sketches -- of his hard-hitting, popular, irreverent published works. But perhaps most important, they offer us a portrait of Abbey the man: the friend, enemy, husband, lover, loner, writer, and fiery environmetalist who forever changed the way we look at the American West.

Edited by Abbey's good friend, writer David Petersen, Confessions of a Barbarian presents the best of these previously unpublished journals for the first time, illustrated with Abbey's own sketches.

Edward Abbey's last novel, Hayduke Lives!, was published posthumously in 1991. David Petersen is the author of a number of books on natural history and the environment. He lives in the San Juan Mountains near Durango, Colorado.


"Abbey's journals show a different side of the environmentalists whose life was filled with numerous, brief, and mostly superficial sexual relationships. Abbey's belief that men crave a variety of partners led him to advocate "some form of legal, sanitized prostitution." With enough loopy logic to fill a big top, what these journals begin to make clear is that Abbey's devotion to the land may have been partially a compensation for his lack of empathy for other people." -- Miles Harvey, Outside


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Library of Congress Data

Abbey, Edward, 1927-
  Confessions of a barbarian : selections from the journals of Edward Abbey,
1951-1989 / original drawings by Edward Abbey ; edited and with an
introduction by David Petersen.  1st ed.  Boston : Little, Brown, c1994.  p.



  Abbey, Edward, 1927- --Diaries.
  Authors, American--20th century--Diaries.
  Park rangers--United States--Diaries.
  Naturalists--United States--Diaries.

  Petersen, David, 1946-

DEWEY DEC:  818/.5403  B dc20

ISBN:  0316004154
GEOG. AREA CODE:  n-us---
LCCN:  94-7042

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