Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Tree” as Want to Read:
The Tree
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Tree

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  587 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
“For years I have carried this book...with me on travels to reread, ponder, envy. In prose of classic gravity, precision, and delicacy, Fowles addresses matters of final importance.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review

The Tree is the fullest and finest exploration I’ve ever read of how the useless delights to be discovered in nature can ripen into the practice of art.”

—Lewis Hy
Paperback, 112 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Ecco (first published 1979)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Tree, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Tree

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,347)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Libros Prestados
Aug 26, 2016 Libros Prestados rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A John Fowles le gustan los árboles. Mucho. Muchísimo. Lo flipa con ellos. Pero no los árboles en cuanto a entes individuales, con su nombre en latín y su clasificación en una familia, orden y clase.


A John Fowles le gustan los árboles en cuanto a parte de un bosque, parte de un ecosistema en perpetua simbiósis, parte de la Naturaleza.

Porque para él, un gran mal de la sociedad es la "cientificación" de la naturaleza, la necesidad de etiquetarlo todo, con la presunción de que así lo entenderemo
Re-read thoughts /5/16/2015:

Came back to this book nearly four years after the initial reading, and after a long trip where I spent a lot of time with some wild trees. I still found it beautiful and touching and wonderful. I also found some sections that challenged me (and that I didn't particularly remember from the first time around.) and that I didn't quite agree with as wholeheartedly as I did when I first read it - but I think that is a good thing! I still recommend this essay fully to any
I don’t know how to explain this book. It is a simple book, it is not a simple book, and it can speak for itself. I have never read anything else by John Fowles, and I don’t know when I will, but now I have read this. My brain is fried. This book, this tiny little volume, this tiny little essay, was everything I expected and more, and even more after that. It blew my mind.
I saw this book and bought it, though I have 80-something books I need to read. I saw the title and grabbed it, smiled when I
John Fowles es el reputado autor de El mago, uno de esos libros que el canon occidental nos obliga a leer antes de morir si queremos alcanzar el estatus de persona culta. Sin embargo, Fowles no solo se dio a la novela, sino que tuvo tiempo de sacar ideas de debajo de las piedras y elaborar con ellas truculentos ensayos como el que recientemente ha rescatado la editorial Impedimenta. En El árbol, Fowles nos relata su infancia en Inglaterra y cómo la obsesión de su padre con la explotación comerci ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 30th anniversary edition of John Fowles legendary essay about trees. Or rather, what trees mean in a greater sense than just the biological. At first, I expected this to be similar to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring-both were written decades ago. However, this slim text is more of a set of questions rather than answers. In fact, despite the title, it could be said that trees are just the smallest portion of his purpose.

"Do we feel that unless we create evidence-photographs, journal ent
Oct 15, 2008 Guy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litcrit
You never know quite where you are with John Fowles: either he is opening one plot trapdoor after another beneath your feet (The Magus), or he is messing with your willing suspension of disbelief (The French Lieutenant's Woman), or he is doing something else that throws some other assumption of yours into question. And this little book is no different. He has written a book about nature and art that, without ever quite saying so explicitly, asserts that any review or critical assessment of his b ...more
Apr 23, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-read
The essay is a marvelous and thought-provoking meditation on man;s relationship to nature. Despite our attempts to frame nature through art or circumvallate it in a cloistered garden, it remains wild, chaotic, dangerous, and useless. It retains an otherness that defies our abilities to impose human order upon it. It is the ability of the wilderness to stand beyond our understanding, to defy our attempts at categorization, to elude our control that makes it so important. The witness of the wilder ...more
Josune Murgoitio
Un libro interesante. Me llamó la atención el título y que fuera un ensayo sobre la naturaleza, el árbol... será que tengo ahora fijación por los bosques, los árboles... en mi novela tiene mucha importancia. Es un ensayo que me ha gustado, aunque en algunas ocasiones el autor se va un poco por las "ramas". Pero me quedo con la indicación de cómo en el pasado el bosque se le tenía como metáfora del mal y ahora hemos sustituido esa metáfora por la de la ciudad. Hace una relación además, el autor, ...more
May 05, 2015 Andra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evoluția a transformat omul într-o creatură a cărei percepție este izolatoare, căci ea privește lumea nu numai antropocentric, ci și individualizat, oglindă a felului în care ne place să ne imaginăm propriile noastre euri. Aproape întreaga artă de dinaintea impresioniștilor - sau a celui care a fost pentru ei un fel de Ioan Botezătorul, William Turner - proclama dragostea noastră pentru contururi clare și identități unice, pentru lucrul individual desprins din neclaritatea fundalului. Această pu ...more
Jan 21, 2012 Stela rated it really liked it
"Art and nature are siblings, branches of one tree; and nowhere more than in the continuing inexplicability of many of their processes and above all those of creation and of effect on their respective audiences. Our approach to art, as to nature, has become increasingly scientized (and dreadfully serious) during this last century."

And so on. Art is just as beautiful and unpredictable as nature is, and every try to learn how to do it or to examine it is just as futile as the labels put on species
Carl R.
Apr 15, 2013 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would be a violation of The Tree to do much analysis of John Fowles’ wonderful paean to the natural world. The unpruned, unespalliered, untended, natural world. Let the man speak for himself on the subject.

"It [the uncultivated copse] can be known and entered only by each, and in its now; not by you through me, by any you through any me; only by you through yourself, or me through myself. We still have this to learn: the inalienable otherness of each, human and non-human, which may seem the p
Steve Turtell
Oct 03, 2013 Steve Turtell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't ever think I'd find a suitable explanation for the feeling I have about trees—but I have, and it's in this magical book.

"The artist's experience here is only a special—unusually prolonged and self-conscious—case of the universal individual one. The return to the green chaos, the deep forest and refuge of the unconscious is a nightly phenomenon, and one that psychiatrists—and torturers—tell us is essential to the human mind. Without it, it disintegrates and goes mad. If I cherish trees
Nov 10, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, 2014, favorites
Although short in length, this book has a profound depth to it which Thoreau could have used to edit "Walden". Fowles encapsulates his appreciation of nature thus, " experience whose deepest value lies in the fact that it cannot be directly described by any art...including that of words." For a writer of Fowles' talent, this is a indeed a humble statement.

Humankind's need to tame the wildness of nature is illustrated in the manner that the author's father takes such pride and joy in his met
A tribute to nature, especially woods and their influence on art, literature and last but not least, the author himself.
Robert Strandquist
Written in 1979, this 90 page essay on the nature of nature related to the nature of humans and how these two interact ranges from ethereal to opaque, from idiosyncratic to universal. For me the most compelling section was the final, more personal one where Fowles relates a re-visit to Wistman's Wood, a unique and haunting section within a larger forest. It reminded me of William Wordsworth's poetic revist to "Tintern Abbey" where he not only recalls seeing the waterfall but after 25 years he re ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Cleo rated it liked it
"John Fowles (1926–2005) is widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the twentieth century—his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, been turned into beloved films, and been popularly voted among the 100 greatest novels of the century. To a smaller yet no less passionate audience, Fowles is also known for having written The Tree, one of his few works of nonfiction. First published a generation ago, it is a provocative meditation on the connection between the natural ...more
Jul 20, 2013 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cheshire
every great novelist, one might say, earns the right to do a memoirish/personal philosophy non-fiction piece, and if that worked spectacularly for J.G. Ballard, a b-list scribbler of apocalyptic sci-fi pieces until his thinly-disguised autobiographical Empire of the Sun, then of course for John Fowles, who had already had three blockbuster literary fiction works under his belt by 1969, naturally the 'cry of the heart' philosophy piece will naturally elicit a more divisive reception. One might sa ...more
May 07, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable book with valuable insight into art, nature and humanity, more philosophy than nature writing, explicitly so. Fowles has a great deal to offer about the relationship between people and nature and between our art and reality. Much of what he says is challenging in a productive way, and I will be returning to this book repeatedly in years to come.
Apr 15, 2014 Pris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A treatise on how trees (and nature in general) should be considered one with humanity, instead of separate entities from us, because their existence is similar to how we create art--whether it's writing a novel, building edifices, or painting a canvas. Didn't quite see it that way, so I just rated it 3 stars.
Jai Hamid
Jan 30, 2016 Jai Hamid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enormously important essay in our cognitive rewiring surrounding questions of "nature," the "nonhuman," and for solution generation in this time of ecological predicament. A great companion piece to thinkpieces from Thoreau to Timothy Morton.
Jul 07, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'No religion is the only religion, no church the true church; and natural religion, rooted in love of nature, is no exception. But in all the long-cultivated and economically exploited lands of the world our woodlands are the last fragments of comparatively unadulterated nature, and so the most accessible outward correlatives and providers of the relationship, the feeling, the knowledge that we are in danger of losing; the last green churches and chapels outside the walled civilization and cultu ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite treatise on our relationship to all things natural. On a par with Carson, Thoreau. One of the few books I immediately began re-reading after the last page.
Nov 03, 2014 Landjonker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful essay where the author displays empathy for nature and gives an insight into the key to a true understanding of the inspiration of his work.
Dan Lalande
John Fowles' transcendentalist treatise on our fusion with nature and its tricky relationship with art. It serves at once as an ecological battle cry and an indiosyncratic meditation on inspiration.
Feb 20, 2012 Glenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great read if you are at all captivated by the mystery and power of the natural world. Fowles describes the indescribable natural world in beautiful prose, while embracing the paradox of trying to do so with mere words.

I also was handed a better set of tools for understanding areas of immense complexity in my life. As if I stood before the truly perplexing with some sense of resignation, only to find his words layed out on pressed wood pulp and pounded into the door of a heretofore inadm
Cathy Houston
Dec 05, 2014 Cathy Houston rated it liked it
interesting essay on Fowles love and use of nature in his writing
Jul 07, 2014 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful but not really as deep as advertised
Apr 06, 2012 Oksanna rated it it was amazing
Written almost 30 years ago, this essay is so poignant and present about separation of mankind from natural world.

"To see the woods and forest merely scientifically, economically, topographically or aesthetically - not to understand that their greatest utility lies not in the facts derivable from them, or in their timber and fruit, or their landscape charm, or their utility as subject matter for the artist - proves the gathering speed with which we are retreating into outer space from all other
Jan 06, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Best thing I've read in years. Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy!
Oct 23, 2011 Amari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I admire the basic premises of this meditation on nature and creativity, I found it a difficult book to enjoy. Perhaps the threads were a bit too tangled for me. Perhaps there were too many words I didn't know. Though there were moments of great resonance for me, which made me want very much to like the book, somehow I found the author/narrator a bit less than sympathetic. I wish that I were advanced enough to understand his thoughts more deeply, but I yam what I yam.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 44 45 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson
  • Winter: Notes from  Montana
  • Thuggin In Miami (The Family Is Made : Part 1)
  • Winter Count
  • Walking It Off: A Veteran's Chronicle of War and Wilderness
  • Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul
  • Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water
  • Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution
  • The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot's Contemporary Prose
  • I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet
  • Why We Read What We Read: A Delightfully Opinionated Journey Through Bestselling Books
  • Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama
  • Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition
  • Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty
  • Sex and the River Styx
  • The Hidden Forest: The Biography of an Ecosystem
  • Shakespeare: A Life
  • Once & Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us about the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals
John Robert Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town located about 40 miles from London in the county of Essex, England. He recalls the English suburban culture of the 1930s as oppressively conformist and his family life as intensely conventional. Of his childhood, Fowles says "I have tried to escape ever since."

Fowles attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys
More about John Fowles...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“The evolution of human mentality has put us all in vitro now, behind the glass wall of our own ingenuity.” 9 likes
“I happily forgot his little collection of crimped and cramped fruit trees in my own new world, my America of endless natural ones in Devon.” 1 likes
More quotes…