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Wild: An Elemental Journey
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Wild: An Elemental Journey

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  296 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In Wild, Jay Griffiths describes an extraordinary odyssey through wildernesses of earth, ice, water, and fire. A poetic consideration of the tender connection between human society and the wild, the book is by turns passionate, political, funny, and harrowing. It is also a journey into that greatest of uncharted lands-the wilderness of the mind-and Griffiths beautifully ex ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 28th 2006 by Tarcher
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 901)
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Barry
Couldn't finish it: it made me feel angry - seemed a bit much "Repressed intellectual privileged white woman goes to hang out with non-repressed poor people, takes drugs, lets it all hang out, feels much better, and writes a rave about how great it is to be poor and in touch with nature etc, dressed up with some residual intellectualism". I don't think that's entirely fair, but that's how I'm felt about it.
Wsa84
It took me long to actually realise what this book was about: it is actually a travel book, full of wandering on language, history, environmental issues, etc., often with a focus on non-urbanized, "wild" people such as Amazonian tribes and Eskimo hunters.
The best thing about it is the language: Jay Griffiths can write as well as any writer I've ever come across. Just see how she describes the life in the coral reefs: it's poetry in prose, a symphony in words.
As for the actual content, she makes
...more
insomnius
Twenty pages in, I decided that this was utterly unreadable. Will not finish it.
Angel Cowgirl
While I enjoyed the stories of her global travels and descriptions of other cultures and customs, I was intensely repelled by Ms. Griffiths' obvious deep-seated hatred for so many things, especially white people and western “civilization”. Ms. Griffiths has a way with words and can weave beautiful, poetic images… yet often resorts to crude slang. If you enjoy odd philosophical meanderings and radical ideologies, pseudo-intellectual eco-socialism, and scathing attacks on the moralism and ethics o ...more
John
Ms. Griffith doesn't think like me. This is the very reason I am reading this tome. She is a radical feminist, anti-Christian, anti-corporate, and anti-western civilization in her views. I have found her challenging, engaging, often aggravating, but always a good story teller. It has been a positive stretch for me to read this book.
Michael
If ever there was a book to make you pack a bag and travel then this is it.Seven years of travels to jungle,desert,ice and everything inbetween.Plus some great accounts of the best natural hallucinogenic medicines known to man.A classic
Iano
I can't remember being so turned off a book so quickly. It felt like it was written by a teenager. The essence of wildness in peyote! ... please!
Veronica
I've never read a book quite like this; it's very difficult to describe. Seven years in the writing, like some mythical hero's trials, it's a hymn to the wild, written by a young poet, anthropologist, philosopher, adventurer, and probably manic depressive too. It's divided into sections for each element: Earth, Ice (an element on its own), Water, Fire, and Air, and Griffiths travels the globe in search of unspoiled wildness: the Amazon, the Arctic, Indonesia, Australia, and West Papua (with a br ...more
Maria Da
I've just recently finished reading this book - after eight months. I really laboured through it, and only finished it because I don't like starting a book and not finishing it. It came highly recommended by someone I admire, but I have a few quibbles with it.
Jay writes exquisitely, which I truly admire and envy her for. She is also extremely brave and adventurous for having tackled places and situations that she writes about. I also share many of her views on wildness. What irked me was her sel
...more
Diane
I loved it, I hated it. In and out of it I went. I loved the stories she told, hated her self-importance and her overdone prose, which would at times leave Walter Pater in the shade. See my views on her chum Macfarlane.

Are we entering a new era of ichor and tesellated pavements, where everyoen goes for Immediate Impact? If so, get out the Hemingway! If you want wild, read Big Two-hearted River, which I'm willing to bet Griffiths hates because it's about a man and not menstrual cycles (ay-ay-ay)
...more
Paul Cheney
Such a difficult book to categorise as it transcends travel and emotion.

The book is in sections based on Wild something, e.g. Wild Water and Wild Air and Griffiths had written about her experiences of people and places in these zones.

Parts of it were really good, and a delight to read, other parts were tough because of the subject matter.

The last part was entitled Wild Mind, and she wrote about her experiences of a separation and the trauma following this.

Good at times, but not fantastic
Sinead
Wild - a very confusing story should be the title. I found the author jumped around alot in the book and although some of the description used in the book was very awe-inducing, I found that she repeated herself quite alot.
I did not finish this book because after a while I found her writing to be annoying and she was a little bit condescending and patronising
Sandy
One of the best books I've ever read. Part travelogue, part self-exploration, Ms. Griffiths explores how she feels environmental destruction is related to man's inherent fear of other. She's right up there with Terry Tempest Williams in my book.
Suzi Baum
I am refraining from high-lighting passages of this book because I might as well just dunk the whole thing in highlighter. I soak up her words like watermelon juice.
Charlie
An inspiring book of a lady who met many indigenous people around the world and discovered how they have been persecuted by the west and Christians. Trying to change their simpler content ways, being at one with nature, having respect for all living things. It makes me realise how much we have digressed from that in this materialistic world, a slave to corporations and fear.

The Christians intentionally went to uncontacted tribes even though in the amazon even though they knew they would cause d
...more
Rowan Morrison
I found this book hugely compelling. I started reading it on a camping holiday with my children - exactly the right environment. As I turned the pages sitting outside our tent in the dark as they slept, surrounded by hills with bats flitting around me and a whiskey warming my throat, Jay Griffith's words tapped into exactly what I was feeling - the 'wildness' that is so essential to feeling properly alive. 'Wild' is a poem to the earth and the indigenous people who truly know how to treat it and ...more
Holly Bik
This is a decent travel book, especially for killing time on long journeys. However, I did find some chapters to be rather tedious and repetitive (I found myself counting the pages until the next section), and without much of a coherent narrative to keep up my interest - particularly the chapter on "Wild Water" which read like a description of a Lisa Frank picture (dolphins swimming, turtles singing, la la la) and didn't have much substance. The author's views on Christianity and European Histor ...more
Simon Blair
Author Jay Griffiths spent 7 years of her life on a life changing journey to the world’s remotest places living with indigenous peoples and learning their compassionate and wise ways. This book is a celebration of their often-neglected outlooks and especially their connection to the natural rhythms and harmonies of Gaia. Divided into chapters named after the four elements, each one follows her experience in the realms of Earth, Air, Fire and Water (Ice). The deepest message of this book is that ...more
Sarah
Weirdly alluring.

I stumbled across this book during one of my fishing trips in the charity shops. It was the cover that made me want this, and also because it was so different from what I usually read.

I didn't realise it was travel writing until I was part way through, Griffiths goes on a journey that is more spiritual than literal, even thought her destinations are beautiful and real and gritty.

This was a heavy going read. It reminded me of Anne Michaels, whom I recently read as part of my cou
...more
Carmine
My reactions to this book and the author are ambivalent. On the one hand, she is certainly passionate about preserving wildness in all its forms and taking action. On the other hand, her dualistic viewpoint means that situations and cultures are painted in un-nuanced, black and white terms. Griffiths is also a fierce supporter of native cultures/peoples, who are suffering theft of lands and destruction by western moneyed interests. For example, my eyes were opened to the complicity of the U.S. i ...more
Dave
I thought this one was a little over rated. She tends to use the same stereotype ideas about feminine and masculine nature that she criticizes others for using. Pretty annoying logic at times.
Agnese
A striking book. Straightforward, irreverent, intimate and elegant, as wild nature, which never dissimulates, is. Sometimes too wordy like an intricate wild forest, other times profound and wise like the silent and perceptive mind of the ocean, or perspicacious and playful like a bird flight high in the sky. Life is meant to be free and self-willed, a joyful comedy, but too often it is coercively constricted into an oppressive, unnatural tragedy. A denounce of how greed and the thirst for power ...more
Krassita
Blew my mind away Beautiful vivid feminine Full of life adventure and poetry nature as the mother and the muse
Clivemichael Justice
Wild and crazy, down home basic, back to your roots, in your face.
Liam Wilson
Amazing, a non-fiction must-read.
Maya Rock
Extraordinary writer. Sometimes a little too "noble savage." I usually can't get into this kind of book (narrative nonfiction w/o a lot of focus on individual people) but I liked this one. I think my favorite part is the ice section, in the North Pole, when they kill the whales and she's so torn about whether to support the noble savages or the nobler whales.

I felt it petered out to the end with the Mongolian stuff.

The tampon theme was interesting too (just the reactions of various native peopl
...more
Jenny Villanueva
This is one of those books I just found being given away. Super interesting. I actually learned a lot from this book, as there was a curious dive into words to express the points and subjects. Halfway through I really wanted to know how she would tie it up and end it, so I breezed through chapters which may explain why I felt the end was a bit disconnected and short, BUT I loved the way it ended. I will be referencing this book for awhile, so I'm not sure I can part with it just yet.
Wren
Superb, has to be one of the most eloquent and emotive books I have ever read!
Also at times frustrating! It inspired a whole series of emotions, that sometimes meant I had to leave this book alone for a while, to allow time to consider each element.
Reading others criticisms I found a lot to agree with, yet could not condemn it in any way.
A strange exciting and thought provoking adventure!

Update June 2013: Still not returned to this book, not sure why?
Diana
For anyone interested in the wild, this is a treat. Jay Griffiths wanders out past the borders because that's the heart and soul of our world and that's where we learn what we need to know and what we need to bring back to our modern cultures. Well, she wanders out there because she loves the wild. I loved reading this, out in the Black Hills with nighthawks flying around buzzing and whomping.
Jayne
An elemental journey and what a journey! The author uses incredibly rich, lucious language in her attempt to describe her journeys to extremely remote parts of the earth. She is tough, harsh, and irreverent towards those who would compromise wild areas, and creates in the reader a deep appreaciation of 'wildness'. The book is experiential beyond compare, and thoroughly researched by the author.
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Jay Griffiths was born in Manchester and studied English Literature at Oxford University. She spent a couple of years living in a shed on the outskirts of Epping Forest and has travelled the world, but for many years she has been based in Wales.
More about Jay Griffiths...
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“The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard it's primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in our dreams, when our mind is off the leash, running wild. 'Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even further on, as one,' wrote Gary Snyder. 'It is in vain to dream of a wildness distinct from ourselves. There is none such,' wrote Thoreau. 'It is the bog in our brains and bowls, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires the dream.'

And as dreams are essential to the psyche, wildness is to life.

We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud. More. We are animal not only in body but in spirit. Our minds are the minds of wild animals. Artists, who remember their wildness better than most, are animal artists, lifting their heads to sniff a quick wild scent in the air, and they know it unmistakably, they know the tug of wildness to be followed through your life is buckled by that strange and absolute obedience. ('You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star,' wrote Nietzsche.) Children know it as magic and timeless play. Shamans of all sorts and inveterate misbehavers know it; those who cannot trammel themselves into a sensible job and life in the suburbs know it.

What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakeable, unforgettable, unshamable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quitessence, pure spirit, resolving into no contituents. Don't waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary.”
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“What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakable, unforgettable, unshakable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quintessence, pure spirit, resolving into no constituents. Don't waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary.” 7 likes
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