The Story of my Heart
The Story of my Heart
First published in 1883, “The Story of My Heart” is a book by English nature writer Richard Jefferies. It is often described as a “spiritual autobiography”, within which Jefferies envisions the English countryside as a utopia.
The foundation of his narrative is his experience of nature, walking the hills and coastlines of nineteenth century rural England.
He describes those views in very emotional terms, intimate and mystical at the same time.
Those experiences generated a powerful spiritual force in Jefferies, energizing his development of a unique view of man’s place in the universe.
Unlike modern environmental writers, Jefferies discards science as a starting point for understanding himself, or understanding the world.
The only “facts” that count for Jefferies are the intense feelings and desires produced by his personal subjective experience of nature.
The conclusions he draws from his personal experience point towards some type of cosmic consciousness, which in turns suggests a vastly expanded view of human abilities.
Despite the book’s Victorian origins, it has continued resonance with today’s spiritual and ecological concerns. Jefferies’s musings consider man’s place in the world, the soul, and nature’s role as a source of comfort and inspiration. (Rachel Carson purportedly kept two copies of the book at her bedside.)
JOHN RICHARD JEFFERIES (1848 –1887) was an English nature writer, noted for his depiction of English rural life in essays, books of natural history, and novels. His childhood on a small Wiltshire farm had a great influence on him and provides the background to all his major works of fiction. The son of a Wiltshire farmer, he began his work as a reporter for the North Wiltshire Herald, and later found success through his articles written for the Pall Mall Gazette, a series of essays called The Gamekeeper at Home (1878), followed by three more collections which were first published in the Pall Mall Gazette and then in book form, including Wild Life in a Southern County and The Amateur Poacher, both appearing in 1879, and Round About a Great Estate in 1880.