Words of Re-enchantment: Writings on Storytelling, Myth, and Ecological Desire.

Author:Wilson, Sarah Ruth

Words of Re-enchantment: Writings on Storytelling, Myth, and Ecological Desire. By Anthony Nanson. Stroud, England: Awen Publications, 2011. Pp. xii + 189, forward, introduction, bibliography, acknowledgements, index.

Storyteller Anthony Nanson put together a delightful book that centers on the convergence of performance and the way humanity perceives the natural world. It would be wrong to assume that each of the twenty-five short, previously published essays discuss this union when in reality Nanson takes on three separate matters sequentially through the book: the importance of myth, the act of storytelling, and the ecobardic theory that emerges from sharp storytelling shrewdness. Nanson's concern is with those stories that arouse desire in the reader/listener and how that desire can be directed toward greater awareness of environmental issues. This is the "ecobardic approach," a new way of relaying information through the creative arts that maintains "the global ecological crisis through which we're now living challenges postmodernism's refusal to judge the worth of art in other than monetary terms" (92). In other words, it is imperative that the artist uses her platform to transmit important information, so that audiences are inspired to reconnect with the natural world, and ultimately to make changes for the benefit of the environment. While somewhat convoluted, Nanson's purpose is made clear by the end of the book, -though the journey there is not always direct.

The first section, "Myth," illustrates the many ways that nature is incorporated into traditional European stories like the Arcadian landscape or the legend of King Arthur. Nanson also uses this section to elucidate the basic components of a successful story. The second part of the book, "Storytelling," consists of a series of articles on the pitfalls and advantages of the performing experience. While containing stimulating insights into this artistic genre, part two seems a bit sprawling as Nanson incorporates personal narrative with reviews of other storytelling performances. It is admirable that he chooses to blend different types of writing in the book in order to illustrate the versatility of storytelling, challenging the reader to move beyond her conventional understanding of the category. Yet, the reader desires to find a home in the stories presented but remains floating above the scenario or fully outside of the experience. This is the opposite effect that a...

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