Wallace Stegner vs. William Cronon

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Corey Jean
SA 4

Stegner and Cronan

The absurdity of certain arguments, for me, makes it difficult to fairly analyze a piece of work. It is my lack of patience for supreme stupidity that disables me from comparing two certain articles on the topic of “Wilderness”. When asked to read, summarize, and then write about the differing opinions between Wallace Stegner’s “Wilderness Letter” (1960) and William Cronan’s “The Trouble with Wilderness” (1996), I approached reading them not expecting too much of a difference or surprise. I actually expected the latter article to be more astute being that it was written 36 years more recently. Upon completing the philosophical, brief, and rather vague article by Wallace Stegner, I looked forward to reading the next article to see if my assignment was worth my time. The incoherent, unfounded ramblings of William Cronan baffled me so much that I never re-read the first article, opting instead to read and research his arrogant nonsense many times over. I have been instructed to represent the ideas of each author fairly; but fairness is a term subject to interpretation, and I believe it is only fair (or rather my duty) as a critic to systematically debunk “The Trouble with Wilderness” in the interest of common sense and the perpetuity of the natural world.

Wallace Stegner’s “Wilderness Letter” takes a very common stance on the spiritual benefits of natural preservation. I found the article rather shallow, but must commend Stegner’s point of view considering it was written at a time of unchecked American prosperity. Not many Americans would consider the halt of the industrious nature of the economy, largely depending on exploiting our natural environment. Stegner could foresee the destruction of our beloved wilderness if we did not see it for what it is worth in a non-monetary way. He believed that the American identity relied heavily on the “frontiers” that we conquered centuries after our European, African, and...
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