Edward Abbey’s groundbreaking autobiographical work—often referred to as a modern-day Walden—centers around the author’s experience as a park ranger at Arches National Monument in the 1960’s. At times anecdotal, philosophical, polemic, and passionate, Desert Solitaire maps the connection between modern humanity and the wilderness of the American Southwest.
First published in 1968, Desert Solitaire is one of Edward Abbey’s most critically acclaimed works and marks his first foray into the world of nonfiction writing. Written while Abbey was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah, Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man’s quest to experience nature in its purest form.
Through prose that is by turns passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world as well as his own internal struggle with morality. As the world continues its rapid development, Abbey’s cry to maintain the natural beauty of the West remains just as relevant today as when this book was written.
Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania in 1927. In 1944, at the age of 17, Abbey set out to explore the American Southwest, bumming around the country by hitchhiking and hopping freight trains. It was during this time that Abbey developed a love of the desert, which would shape his life and his art for the next forty years. After a brief stint in the military, Abbey completed his education at the University of New Mexico and later, at the University of Edinburgh. He took employment as a park ranger and fire lookout at several different National Parks throughout his life, experiences from which he drew for his many books. Abbey died at his home in Oracle, Arizona in 1989.