Edward Abbey best exemplifies a strong-willed environmental activist and an accomplished storyteller. From all of the descriptive terms that can be used to describe him, these two resonated the most with me. As a storyteller, Abbey delivers his stories in a deep, gravelly drone that is strangely soothing to the ear. After listening to him give a speech, I reread certain passages in his novel Desert Solitaire and could clearly hear his voice saturated in its pages.
Abbey appeals to my sense of humor, which is what I like about him the best. Using humor to get a point across is more effective than most people give it credit for. It’s less confrontational and can lighten the darkest of subjects. The PBS documentary Edward Abbey: A Voice In The Wilderness does a good job of showcasing Edward Abbey’s life in its entirety. It does not focus on one part of his life more than the rest, which gives the viewer a more accurate depiction of the man.
To describe Abbey’s personality as a whole would be impossible. The film depicts him as he evolves in age, which means his characteristics change and evolve along with him. He never really fits into one type of category, but the terms that seem to stick with him throughout his life are as follows: rebel, passionate, funny, and environmentalist.
By the middle of the documentary, the film has spun an accurate tale of Abbey’s life. Now it turns to his lasting impact on the environmental movement. Despite hating that his novel Desert Solitaire ended up overshadowing the rest of his novels, the book does have the most lasting impact on the environmental movement. His readers really rallied behind it, even long after his death. I’m most impressed by Abbey’s hands-on approach to writing his novels. Most of them were based on his own experiences, making them authentic to the reader.
Abbey makes a difference in the environmental world by getting the discussion started. His passionate beliefs about protecting the environment were reflected in all of his later works. He may no longer be relevant in today’s world, but the effects of his work remain long lasting and strong. Abbey cultivated the next generation of environmental activists, whether he meant to or not.