Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson (1942)

Rachel Carson's Under the Sea Wind

Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson was the noted naturalist’s first book, published in 1942. Even in her debut publication, reviewers noted the lyrical quality she applied to scientific prose to make it compelling and readable.

Not nearly as renowned as Carson’s classic Silent Spring (1962), Under the Sea Wind has in its quiet way also stood the test of time, having been reissued in several editions by various publishers since its debut. The 2007 Penguin Classics encapsulated it:

“Rachel Carson—pioneering environmentalist and author of Silent Spring—opens our eyes to the wonders of the natural world in her groundbreaking paean to the sea.

Celebrating the mystery and beauty of birds and sea creatures in their natural habitat, Under the Sea-Wind—Rachel Carson’s first book and her personal favorite—is the early masterwork of one of America’s greatest nature writers.

Evoking the special mystery and beauty of the shore and the open sea—its limitless vistas and twilight depths—Carson’s astonishingly intimate, unforgettable portrait captures the delicate negotiations of an ingeniously calibrated ecology.”

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Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring

Learn more about Rachel Carson
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A 1942 review of Under the Sea Wind 

From the original review of by Rachel Carson in The Louisville Courier-Journal, January 11, 1942: “The Sea’s Eternal Drama”

 In beautiful lyrical prose, Rachel L. Carson in Under the Sea Wind stirs the imagination with her portrayal of the endlessness of life and death in the sea. For the sea was the cradle of all life, and still is a shelter for an endless array of living forms in the most eternal cycle of life that is to be found on earth.

Miss Carson is by training a zoologist; yet, unlike most scientists, she is a talented writer as she so thoroughly proves in this, her first book. A true lover of the sea, she tells with scientific accuracy of the life of the Atlantic coast, from the soaring gulls on high to the forms that creep over the continental slope and down into the perpetual darkness of the ocean’s abyss.

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The sense of wonder by rachel carson2

See also: The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson
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Her style is as readable as that in any animal story, but without most of the anthropomorphism of which so many writers are guilty. She has tried to present the activities of typical oceanic animals from what may be imagined to be their point of view.

Upon reading the book one has the feeling of being an invisible spectator of an eternal drama that began million of years ago and which promises to continue indefinitely, heedless of man and his exploitation of the continents. It is the same feeling one achieves when alone on a starry night he gazes upward into the immensity of space.

Some biologists may scorn Miss Carson’s practice of writing particularly about one individual of a species of Scomber the mackerel, of Blackfoot the sanderling, and Anguilla the eel-but the reviewer believes that in so doing she has been better able to leave herself out of the picture.

Incidentally, it may be remarked that in recent years biological study has shifted largely from that of preserved specimens to that of animal communities, and Under the Sea Wind is one of the first popular books to present this newer knowledge to the layman. Included in the book are several artistic plates and an illustrated glossary with descriptions of more than a hundred plants and animals of the sea.

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Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson

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