Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus in Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
February 2014

This collection, edited by theorist and activist Clark (The Impossible Community) and poet Martin (Looms and Sonnets), focuses on Reclus (1830–1905), the largely-forgotten French writer, geographer, and anarchist, author of the 19-volume tome, The Earth and Its Inhabitants. The first section summarizes Reclus’s life and thought, while the second contains excerpts from his writings, many of which appear here for the first time in English. Having spent time in a Louisiana plantation, Reclus witnessed the brutality of slavery first-hand, which resolved his feelings towards racism and “strengthened his belief in the inhumanity of capitalism.” After returning to Europe, he dedicated himself to political writing and activism, becoming well-known in anarchist circles. Despite his new fame, he rejected the idea of taking a position of superiority, and advocated for “complete justice and equality” for women. Railing against “all forms of the state,” he held that anyone who gains power in the state, even if it is with the intention of improving conditions, inevitably becomes corrupted by its mechanisms. This illuminating, extensive collection provides a worthwhile introduction to a progressive thinker who was ahead of his time.

Back to John P. Clark’s Author Page | Back to Camille Martin’s Editor Page