In This Way The Mountain Lives: An Ecocritical Reading Of John Ehle’s Appalachian Fiction

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Savannah Paige Murray (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Sandra Ballard

Abstract: John Marsden Ehle has written seven novels set in the Appalachian Mountains. These texts chronicle the lives of the Wright and King families of Western North Carolina who adapt to a constantly changing world from the late eighteenth century into the Great Depression. Although these “Mountain Novels” are rich with historical detail, regional folklore, and incredibly compelling plots, they have received little scholarly attention. John Ehle’s fiction is also full of contests between humans and the surrounding natural world. The interactions between nature and human nature in two of Ehle’s novels set in the Appalachian region—The Land Breakers and The Road—are the focus of this thesis. More specifically, this project describes how John Ehle’s fiction connects to the ideas of preservationist John Muir, who argued for humans to find a “right relationship” with the earth. Terry Gifford in Reconnecting with John Muir: Essays in Post-Pastoral Practice describes this search for balance between human needs and the integrity of ecosystems. This thesis investigates how characters in John Ehle’s novels search for a “right relationship” with the natural world, so that they may more fully understand John Muir’s famous quotation, “Going to the Mountains is Going Home.”

Additional Information

Murray, S. (2017). "In This Way The Mountain Lives: An Ecocritical Reading Of John Ehle’s Appalachian Fiction." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2017
Ecocriticism, Appalachian Literature, Post-Pastoral, John Ehle, John Muir

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