||First the forests. Vico's giants ; The Demon of Gilgamesh ; The Virgin goddess ; Dionysos ; The Sorrows of Rhea Silvia ; From mythic origins to deforestation -- Shadows of law. The Knight's adventure ; Forest law ; Outlaws ; Dante's Line of error ; Shadows of love ; The human age ; Macbeth's conclusion -- Enlightenment. The ways of method ; What is enlightenment? A question for foresters ; Rousseau ; Conrad's brooding gloom ; Roquentin's nightmare ; Wastelands -- Forests of nostalgia. Forest and world in Wordsworth's poem ; The Brothers Grimm ; Forests of symbols ; Waiting for Dionysos -- Dwelling. The Elm tree ; London versus Epping Forest ; The woods of Walden ; Fallingwater ; Andrea Zonzotto -- Epilogue: The ecology of finitude. "As Western civilization cleared its space in the midst of the forests, it projected into the sylvan darkness its secret and innermost anxieties; in the forest's shadow we find enchantment, terror, and irony. In this wide-ranging exploration of the role of forests in Western thought, Robert Pogue Harrison enriches our understanding not only of the forest's place in the cultural imagination of the West, but also of the ecological dilemmas that now confront us so urgently." "Harrison offers a richly detailed account of how the governing institutions of the West--from religion to law, family to city--established themselves in opposition to the forests, where the distinctions of civilization go astray. In sources ranging from Gilgamesh and the myths of ancient Greece and Rome to twentieth-century writers like Conrad, Sartre, and Beckett, Harrison finds the forest to be an enigma and paradox: a place of lawlessness, yet a haven for the unjustly treated; a place of profanity yet sacred ground; a world of darkness and obscurity, yet a stage for revelation." "The word forest derives from the Latin for outside. Harrison comes to terms with the radical nature of this outsidedness and the way it grounds human life on the earth. What, he asks, does it mean to "be at home" while estranged from the physical world in which we dwell?" "Consistently insightful and beautifully written, this work is especially compelling at a time when the forest, as a source of wonder, respect, and meaning, disappears daily from the earth."--Jacket.