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Cinquième partie : Montagnes Textes

Coming Down the Mountain: Text and Counter-text in Rick Bass’s Caribou Rising

Yves-Charles Grandjeat
p. 281-288


Loin d’illustrer une tension entre engagement politique (écologique) et qualité littéraire, l’œuvre de Rick Bass montre au contraire que les choix politiques et éthiques de son auteur se traduisent aux niveaux les plus larges (récit, discours) et les plus petits (comparaisons, métaphores) par des choix littéraires tout à fait significatifs dans le cadre d’une esthétique fondamentalement binaire. L’article cherche à définir la "politique discursive" et "l’éthique de la représentation" de Caribou Rising (2004), de Bass, en particulier au niveau de l’imbrication des discours scientifiques, politiques et lyriques. Les discours politique et scientifique tiennent lieu de contre-discours rappelant à Tordre d’une réalité parfois sordide le discours du romantisme lyrique dirigé vers le paysage naturel. Mais même la relation au milieu naturel fait l’objet d’une sorte de contre-discours interne. Le récit de quête initiatique est miné par une ironie profonde que manifestent l’échec de la quête initiale, l’affichage d’une réflexivité critique, et le recours systématique à des comparaisons aberrantes renvoyant le lecteur, loin de toute communion mystique avec la nature, à l’atelier où se fabrique le texte

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Representational ethics

1As the title for this paper suggests, this reading of Caribou Rising may seem to run against some prevailing codes in mountaineering literature and in environmental literary studies, and this on two counts. First, while Mountain literature is primarily interested in height—climbing, going up the mountain—, I intend to suggest that environmental literature has to remain, literally and metaphorically, grounded, concerned with gravity, life in the valley and going back down. Rick Bass’s environmental work as a whole and Caribou Rising in particular are good cases in point. Second, while environmental literary criticism has been, at least in the U.S., primarily concerned with community building and political impact, I intend, perhaps from this safe European perspective, to approach Bass’s work from a literary, textual viewpoint, and this even as regards its politics. This literary critical stance should not, indeed, be seen as resulting from a move to de-politicize Bass’s work—even his most obviously fictional work. Rather, the implicit argument is that the writer’s political commitment, his dedication to furthering the cause of environmental consciousness in general, and of the protection of this or that specific endangered area or species-as is the case in Caribou Rising—can also be assessed from the figurative and rhetorical paths it chooses to follow to reach its ends. We often read-for instance in Diana L. Bashe’s "The Space between Text and Action" (Weltzien 122-147)—that many of the so-called nature writers "refuse" this label, which they perceive as a "stigma" (122) and that one of the reasons for this is that nature writing is generally perceived as a "minor genre", lacking in "thematic and formal sophistication" (124). The argument is elaborated on at great length by Daniel Payne in his Voices in the Wilderness: American Nature Writing and Environmental Politics. On the other hand, we also read that putting too much emphasis on formal considerations may turn out to be counterproductive in terms of broadening a readership and enlarging a constituency for pressing environmental causes. I think Bass’s work is good testimony to the fact that the two dimensions—literary self-consciousness and political effectiveness—do not necessarily run counter each other, even though the writer may find it difficult, at times, to juggle the two in shaping the text’s discursive politics and representational ethics. Representation and verbalization are modes of interacting with an object, and relational modes and codes belong, precisely, to the realm of ethics. To the extent that such codes aim at a distribution of power, they also have political impact. When the object is the environment, then, representation and verbalization involve establishing a symbolic ethical and political relation with this environment. The environmentalist writer is of needs concerned with the issue, no matter how strong the temptation to move out of the strictures of cultural impediments into a world of immediate experience.

2Perhaps the ultimate venture into the wilderness is that offered by a combination of mountain and desert landscape. The arctic desert, in this respect, has been a source of inspiration to many: Robert Marshall’s Alaska Wilderness, Exploring the Central Brooks Range (1956) is a good case in point, which clarifies what makes such mountainous desert landscapes attractive. On the one hand, the roughness of the landscape is an opportunity to lay bare human essentials often hidden by superfluous and deceptive social and cultural attire masks: every second on the rocky trail is a moment of truth and reckoning. Every walker well knows how staying focussed on one’s feet is often, frustratingly, a full-time occupation, involving life-or-death consequences, on the trail. On the other hand, once the trail is completed, the altitude offers a chance to rise above down-to-earth considerations. It induces an exhilarating sense of rising above mortal limits, towards a superior, perhaps transcendent plane of being and mode of awareness, mixed with a physical, almost erotic elation. This is what we find in the introduction to Marshall’s narrative: "the very unfriendliness and threatening façade of the landscape aroused a tingling sense of high adventure, such as climbers must feel on the bleak spurs of great unconquered peaks. A glow of irrepressible excitement is evident on every page of the Marshall text" (Marshall, xvii). Significantly, Rick Bass has contributed a vibrant preface to the latest edition of this book which, to him, "elicits a vicarious, totemic surge of wildness in all who come into contact with it" (Bass, in Marshall, xi). Interestingly, too. Bass’s quote to illustrate what he sees as Marshall’s sense of the wilderness as a "living organism" is a sentence in which Marshall describes "the unreality of countless pinnacles jutting around us in the fog, alternatively appearing and disappearing as the atmosphere thinned and thickened" (Bass, in Marshall, xii). The image does suggest a sort of organic, animal rhythm, as Bass points out – "I can visualize the spine of the mountains rising and falling, like the heart valves or lung-breaths of a vast and living mythic creature" (in Marshall, xii). But it also suggests that the great animal eludes direct, realistic description and representation. As the pinnacles “alternatively” appear and disappear in the fog, the organic, animal-like quality of the landscape is actually offset by the "unreality" of the scenery, looking almost like the ideal setting for a gothic romance, or a fairy-tale. That wild landscape is not easily seen. It plays a game of hide and seek—now you see it, now you don’t—with the narrator. The mode of representation appropriate to the landscape, in this case, appears to be a sort of intermittent gaze, which does not fully disclose its object and which, when it discloses it, discloses it as generically coded. Thus, the description also foregrounds and puts into question the choice of an adequate mode of representation for the mountainous landscape.

  • 1 For instance in "Blurring the Tracks: How to Write about grizzlies in Rick Bass’s Winter and The Lo (...)
  • 2 Slovic was circulating copies of poetry chapbook printed as part of a Wilderness Testimony project.

3The next quote from Marshall picked up by Bass is equally interesting: it shows Marshall taking note of "crumbing slate mountains, 3.000 feet high, which were gradually sliding their way into the creek" (Bass, in Marshall xii). The image of the slow, downward slide of the mountain as it inexorably erodes, runs counter to the exhilarating sense of vertical climbing characteristic of mountaineering narratives. This contrast not only suggests a sense of dialectical balance, or, again, a rhythmic, breathing alternating between rise and fall. It also connects with a fundamental predicament in mountaineering literature and, more generally speaking, in environmental nature writing: the sense of duty which keeps calling the nature writer, no matter how intent she or he might be to escape into the thin of pristine, cleansing, elating wilderness altitude, to come back to the thick of things, the busy, dirty, world of the city and engage in the sometimes ugly politics where the future of the mountains and the wilderness is decided. So while the vertical climb stands of course as the ultimate gratifying experience, the downward slide back into the muck maybe the real test for the environmental nature writer’s stuff. Coming down the mountain may then stand as the unpleasant but decisive moment in assessing the environmental nature writer’s commitment. Rick Bass’s narratives often elaborate on this tension, sometimes seriously, sometimes playfully—a tension which doubles up as a back-and-forth motion between the allure of art and the hard, dirty work of politics. It is interesting to explore how this tension is translated into the rhetoric of the text.1 This dual, back-and-forth rhythm, indeed, also gives Bass a means to inscribe in his very narrative strategies this concern to practice, as a man, as an activist, but also as a writer and in the writing itself, the sort of ethics which he advocates in relating to the natural world. The rhythmic rising and falling, thinning and thickening sound out a structuring tempo which has to do with the two tracks the text follows not alternatively so much as simultaneously. In a testimony which Scott Slovic recently brought to my attention, one contributor divided mankind into two categories: those who are "climbers", and those who are "grounders".2 Bass’s writings suggest that the environmentally conscious nature writer should not be a climber who remembers that he must, on second thoughts, also remain a grounder: he can be, he should be both, ironically, at one and the same time. The binary rhythm which can be heard throughout Bass’s narratives is, perhaps, what helps them maintain a sharp, constant critical distance, particularly from any romantic fallacy. And this even though the argument might be turned on its head: it is indeed also possible to hear in this persistent binary thump, a sort of textual heart beat, which connects the textual performance to an organic, biological pulse.

  • 3 Barry Lopez’s recent collection of stories Resistance outlines what the steps towards establishing (...)

4The notion of irony comes in handy at this point to address the problematic need, for ecologically-minded nature writers, to negotiate an ambivalent representational ethics, driven by a twofold urge both to represent nature, and to represent it as resisting representation. Irony opens a path on which the writer travels back and forth at one and the same time, seeking to establish contact with, while maintaining distance from, the world of the wild. Rather than assuming incommensurability between the world of nature and the world of writing—which would lead the writer into a sublime dead-end, and the ecologist into a theoretical and ethical quagmire, irony points to a dubious common ground between man in general, the writer in particular and the world of nature. This uncertain, shifty ground is one on which man refrains from gestures of hegemonic or exploitative capture while remaining fully engaged. Ethically, it involves a combination of respect and commitment, an ability to step forward and step back, to draw attention to oneself then make oneself scarce. Psychologically, this produces a paradoxical sense of estranged intimacy, verging on the Freudian unheimlich. Rhetorically, it produces a strange weaving together of text and counter-text, visible in sites of textual eddying, where rhetorical boulders throw the narrative current back. The nature writer’s text itself, while first opening a site of resistance against the forces intent on crushing the wilderness, also seeks to counter those forces by establishing an alternative, non-violent, ambiguous, shifty rhetorical territory—a sort of rhetorical reservation3 where it tries out a half-poetic, half-ironic mode of communication with the wild. This touch-and-go, intermittent "brush" with the wild involves a playful combination of distance and contact which translates into discourse, plot, images and rhetorics.

Double discourse

  • 4 Drilling was authorized by a Senate vote in March 2005.

5Like many other works by Rick Bass, Caribou Rising (2004) testifies to the tension between the lyrical, poetic, and the factual, scientific, journalistic modes. The author has elaborated on this tension in The Book of Yaak and in various essays: a tension which, again, we can think of in terms of a binary rhythm running through the text. While some critics might be tempted to simplify the tension into an opposition between fictional and non-fictional writing, this division does not apply to Bass’s work. While short story collections such as, recently, The Hermit’s story may be defined as strictly fictional, they do address questions which have repercussions on the non-fictional work, while imagination may be an important contributor to political action. On the other hand, it is hard to find strictly non-fictional pieces. Even a powerfully consciousness-raising book as Caribou Rising includes moments of meditative, imaginative discourse. The political and the lyrical are intricately intertwined. Or course the urgency of the task—preserving the Arctic Wildlife Refuge from George W Bush’s plans to open it to oil drilling—a plan which has since then been approved by the former Republican Congress4—leaves little time or space for poetic evocation. What is at stake is "whether the Gwich-’in story will be heard in time, and whether certain of their inalienable cultural rights and traditions will be protected, [which] depends largely upon the wishes and courage of fifty-one senators, some of whom own stock in Halliburton, Schlumberger, Exxon Mobile, and the like, and some of whom do not" (9). The plea calls upon the readers’ sense of admiration, responsibility and outrage: "We seem to want a smug and wisecracking president, and to devour not just the last refuge at the top of the world but time itself—twenty thousand years or more of human investment, a fantastic existence brokered and negotiated in one of the most inhospitable environments in which humans can be found" (19). It is backed up by figures about U.S. oil production and consumption, scientific considerations about the effects on the environment of chemicals used to fracture underground coal beds to increase recovery of natural gas, a process in which "the ubiquitous Halliburton Company specializes" (31), it articulates a plea for a "20/20 Renewable Portfolio Standard" (a goal establishing that in 2020, 20% of the U.S. energy would come from renewable sources), with references to studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Senate panel inquiries, etc. Such rhetorics—the rhetorics of fact, defense, indictment—stand in the way of the gratification expected from caribou hunting, and sound at stark odds with the occasional lapse into lyricism: "I’m overjoyed to go out into the forest or the field, alone or with a dog, and to desire to participate in that most ancient of rituals" (51).

6Still, the sense of moral outrage and political duty does not preclude moments of lyrical musing. Reading on, one may at times wonder whether the desire to join the Gwich-’in as they go hunting for Caribou is a means to make a case against drilling for oil in the Alaska Refuge, or whether the alleged need to gather evidence against the drilling is a bare-faced excuse to indulge a craving for caribou hunting—or both. The narrative as a whole can be read as an exercise in double-discourse. Bass systematically cultivates ambivalence. As the narrator reaches into the world of wild nature his writing soars with crisp, light, inebriated lyricism:

On those rare mornings when the desire to hunt is still full within me, and a new snow has fallen in the night, and I’m moving into the wind, following fresh tracks laid down less than an hour earlier, and with the sky blue and the mountains clad in new snow—my senses are aflame, and I fit in the world in a way that makes sense to who I still am (52)

7Then as he is thrown back to the world of human strife, his prose shifts into the ponderously statistical and moralistic demonstration: "Our clumsiness, our unsustainability (5 percent of the world’s population eating 25 percent of the world’s resources), does not take away our voice but, rather, empowers it. For if we the destroyers do not save the world—from ourselves, first and foremost—who will? "(53)

  • 5 In a conversation we had at the Toulouse Mountain conference some of whose proceeding are published (...)

8This constant wavering, typical of Bass’s supposedly "non-fictional writings", however, does not just testify to the predicament of the nature lover doubling up as an activist. It also helps the writer clarify his stance and maintain a measure of proximity, complicity, on the one hand, and of distance, alienation on the other, in his relation to the world of nature. For even when the narrative veers away from political discourse to turn towards lyrical praise of the natural environment, the question of a politics of representation remains central. The narrative is then seemingly made to resist itself, expressing both a desire to merge, physically and spiritually, with the wild—embodied here in the figure of the craved caribou—and a determination to curb this urge to merge. Political prose then also serves the purpose of checking the writer’s lapses into lyrical mysticism-just as scientific information and political plea act as what Bass himself called a "reality check".5 The political counter-current contributes to maintain a self-critical, counter-romantic perspective in the lyrical text. This constant sense of writing along and against the romantic grain reminds the reader of what may seem to stand as a programmatic metaphor in Bass’s work: that of the "big man" swimming against the current, pulling a canoe laden with statues tied to his waist, in the short story "Field Events" (in Platte River). Of course, the canoe laden with "darkened cast-iron statues"(45) which the big man has in tow is a reminder of the nature writer’s cultural burden. As the two brothers who have discovered the Big Man teach him the appropriate steps to throw the discus, they subject the "wild throws" to a set of rules providing "control". The short story points to the tension between (natural) wildness and (cultural) control as the writer’s fundamental theme.

9The tension can also be expressed in terms of a hesitation between a desire to penetrate the wilderness and an opposite one to leave the wilderness alone. Interestingly, Caribou Rising was published as a Sierra Club Book, with a publisher’s statement reminding the readers that “The Sierra Club, founded in 1892 by John Muir, has devoted itself to the study and protection of the earth’s scenic and ecological resources-mountains, wetlands, woodlands, wild shores and rivers, deserts and plains“. Balancing "study", which involves penetration and intervention, and "protection" can be tricky, as Rick Bass has observed on numerous occasions. Landscapes are only “scenic” to the extent that they can be observed by an intruder and "resources" are only so to those who exploit them. Bass occasionally advocates a John Muir style hands-off policy and calls upon the memory of Edward Abbey, a fierce preservationist. But he also repeatedly quotes Aldo Leopold, a conservationist much more than a preservationist. Here as usual, Bass chooses the uncomfortable, in-between stance.


  • 6 My emphasis.

10Double discourse is also suited to express the cultural position of the narrator as well as, one may argue, the implied author lurking behind the narrator. As a western visitor to the Gwich’-in, the narrator is as remote from the world of his hosts as he is from the world and the world-view of the caribou. Only they can claim: "We are the caribou people. Caribou are not just what we eat; they are who we are. They are in our stories and songs and the whole way we see the world. Caribou are our lives" (70). Or can they? Even there, some measure of cautiousness may be preferable. Perhaps what the Caribou People are heard to claim about their own culture is only contrived for the visitor’s ears. No visitor will ever know. No matter how deep his craving to merge, something keeps reminding the narrator that this is not his world. The claim of a possible authentic encounter is thus systematically undermined. On his first venture alone out of the village into the wilderness, the narrator climbs to the top of a mountain to discover "an ancient, elegant, bone-white weathered, low cairn of moose and Caribou antlers" (55) and although the surrounding scenery glitters with a sense of heightened existence, it also lets him know he is not welcome there: "I feel a spiritual chill, too, not quite like a warning but as if I have somehow intruded. [...] I turn and start back down the trail off the mountaintop,6 having spent less than a full minute there: not frightened, but uncomfortable. Or maybe just a shade beyond uncomfortable: unsettled." (56) The feeling of estrangement produces a rhetorical wavering: "not quite", "as if", "somehow", "less than", "not...but" "a shade beyond". The narrative voice hesitates in the intermediate realm of the "almost", but the narrator is definitely sent back down the mountain.

11Again, this rhetorical wavering is not just a sign of cultural distance or anthropological clear-sightedness. It is an ethical gesture as well, which bows to (as Barry Lopez would say) the integrity of the wild. The object must resist appropriation and signs of this resistance make possible the game of touch-and-go which the writing plays with nature, in the same intermediate realm as the one in which the narrator half-communicates with his hosts: "He fixes me with a strange look for a moment, a strange moment of some kind of near-communication, as you sometimes experience with animals." (133-134) Rather than communication, the narrator’s last venturing into caribou country yields an experience of utter estrangement and dislocation: "I’m not even yet aware of the specific loss of direction and location. Instead, I’m merely pushing on, being drawn deeper into the sparkling, glinting lakeland" (136). At that point, the narrative—as is the case in The Lost Grizzlies—starts looking like a conventional initiation tale. The experience of total loss first seems the prelude to revelation:

A thing like bliss, like euphoria, begins to fill me—I can feel it rising within me-and then it does fill me, and I keep walking, wandering toward the mountains, which are closer now, and sometimes I navigate around the eastern shore of a sparkling lake, and other times, around the western shore: and the lakes and pounds are unending, are all connected... (136-137)

12Yet, again, as in The Lost Grizzlies, revelation is blurred and only produces a dim, half-perception: "it seems that for half-an-instant I catch the shuddering glimpse of their movement, [...] just at the edge of my vision. [...] for just the blink of an eye, I thought I saw the flash of an antler, or the glint of a hoof or an eye" (137). All is afloat in the unsteady, in-between realm of uncertainty. Approximation then gives way to a sense of utter alienation: "the discomfort of being lost, the first carbonation of panic. [...] The quality of being lost is the quality of not fitting" (139). Eventually, the caribou declines to show up. This non-revelation means failure but it also, paradoxically, registers success, as regards the narrator’s goal to "establish sanctuaries and refuges where the things that help define and shape and teach me might be ensured safe continuance" (52). Once again, the narrative is made to run against the narrator’s own stated intentions, making clear the latter’s ambivalent desires. Honesty indeed brings the narrator to acknowledge the extent to which a fearful predator still lurks inside him and needs to be closely watched. His past experience as a geologist working for oil companies would make him a fine recruit for those seeking to destroy the refuge. He goes so far as to suggest an ominous parallel between hunting for caribou and looking for oil under the refuge: "I used to hunt in northern Alabama and Northern Mississippi for buried lenses of oil and gas, [...] with every bit as much intensity and excitement as a caribou hunter" (53). The value which the narrator ranks first in his appreciation of the wilderness is that of "sincerity": nature does not "manipulate", calculate, "misrepresent" (135), it does not lie. It is a similar sincerity which brings the narrator to come to terms with the ambivalence of his own stance. And so, to establish safeguards resisting the potential invader lurking inside him. For in the intricate tangle of relations that bring together the environmentalist, the hunter, the logger, the trapper, nothing is ever clear-cut in terms of human intentions: respect and abuse, love and destruction are often strangely mingled.

Narrative and rhetorical distance

13The writer’s desire to expose this double-stance, to play out, if not work out his ambivalent intentions translates into an ambiguous, ironic, unreadable narrative persona. It impels the writer’s choice of rhetorical figures feeding the two-voicedness of a discourse marked by lucid, ironic self-reflexivity. Thus, in the passage relating the narrator’s progress towards non-revelation, what is also laid bare is the obvious overcoding of the experience. The whole scene fits the pattern of the shamanistic quest neatly, so neatly, with its symbolic topography: the mountain, the lake, the light, the shore, the vision of the infinite and the holistic, that it appears blatantly overdone, as if the writer meant to divert our attention away from nature, back to art, tradition, and their glaring artifice. The coded process of description covers up the object of attention—better still, it becomes the object of attention.

14Humour certainly is Bass’s trademark mode of critical distancing. His narrators consistently poke fun at their posturing as rugged outdoors men—a posture held up and derided as the cultural cliché which it is. Let us look for instance at this description of his venturing into the wilderness on a small motor boat to hunt for caribou: "our progress is slow, seeming like one of those little puttering jungle-boat rides in amusement parks, the ones that pass through tiny groves of bamboo and into papier-mâché tunnels in which mechanical hippos lurk, rising occasionally to belch and spray water; but it’s just the right speed for me" (80). The Disney-world imagery ludicrously undercuts any romantic fantasy. The description is not only hilarious. It skillfully conflates seemingly incompatible semantic fields and places the narrator in a regressive, mechanical, make-believe tin can world of infantile adventures. At the same time, the self-deprecating stance implies a dual narrator, laughing at himself and thus rising above the delusion. This is not a narrator capable of achieving an authentic experience. But this is a narrator capable of identifying the trappings which necessarily stop him from living "the real thing" and so, to that extent and to that extent only, capable of freeing himself from those trappings.

15The narrator’s plaintive requests for "life-vests", his ceaseless fretting about the danger of the boat’s engine exploding, his self-portrait as the citified, "sissified" wimp (82), his surprised description of a sudden encounter with a stray party of hunters—"I likewise am shocked, for they look exactly like the gunboat crew in Apocalypse Now" (93), in addition to contributing a comic touch, destroy the delusion of romantic harmony. The cultural distance between the Hollywood film industry and the world of the Gwinch-’in is as vast as the geographical distance between the sultry tropics and the frozen Arctic. Or is it? Should one look at the Viet Nam war and the plundering of the Arctic again as motivated by the same sort of criminal motivation to destroy whatever stands in the way of U.S. world supremacy? Should one look at the narrator as unable to see the world except through the lens of movie-screen culture? Is the narrator turning, implicitly, into a cultural critic? Uncertainty sets in. Symptomatic, and just as seemingly ironically worded is the narrator’s concern, as his guide, Charlie, takes apart the defective boat’s carburator to try and repair it. While the boat keeps drifting, the narrator worries that "if we bump into even one slight rock [...], these little parts will go skidding everywhere, sprinkling into the cold dark rushing night-river like rice thrown by guests at a wedding" (149). Perhaps rice recalls Viet Nam. Certainly, there is nothing accidental about the facetious incongruity of the image. Rick Bass could easily have used an image congruous with the natural setting, as he does in other instances—"like a fish slipping back into the river" (149), for instance. The comparison sticks out like a warning signal, or a "reality check". It abruptly unsettles the narration, drawing the reader’s attention to the technical work of assembling, taking apart and putting together the engine parts—an obvious metatextual metaphor for narrative engineering.

16So the narrative turns back to the writer’s world, apart from a world of nature it can only dream of and try to reconstruct with uncertain expertise. Narrator and reader alike are taken down the mountain, back to the narrative workshop. One last wink involves the narrator’s asking his hosts the names of two mountains he can see in the distance: "—the two significant peaks resting in a saddle between the larger mountains" (102). When the Gwich-’in decline to answer, he insists: "‘those two dots,’ I say, ‘the ones standing out there all by themselves.’ ‘Oh, those,’ Mike says. ‘I guess we call those the two dots hills.’" (102) With this masterful humoristic stroke, and with the help of his native "informers", Bass sends his narrator straight back to himself. Back to his crafty work of putting dots on the right place on the page. But there are two dots. One, two. As, for instance, in the word "ambiguity", or in the phrase "the thick of things". For the world where sentences are crafted by the nature writer has a way of engaging the world of nature, even though the engagement also implies a stepping back, back into the fray, back down the mountain, into the thick of things.

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ASHE, Diana. L.. "The Space between Text and Action"? The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass; O. Alan Weltzien ed. Salt Laker City: University of Utah Press, 2001, 122-147.

BASS, Rick. Platte River. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

BASS, Rick. The Lost Grizzlies. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995

BASS, Rick. The Book of Yaak. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

BASS, Rick. The Hermit’s Story. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

BASS, Rick. Caribou Rising. San Francisco: Sierra club Books, 2004.

GRANDJEAT, Yves-Charles. "Blurring the Tracks: How to Write about grizzlies in Rick Bass’s Winter and The Lost Grizzlies", Sources n° 17, Université d’Orléans, automne 2004, 42-57.

LOPEZ, Barry. Resistance. New York: Random House, 2005.

MARSHALL, Robert. Alaska Wilderness, Exploring the Central Brooks Range. 1956. Berkeley, Ca.: University of California Press, 2005 (3rd ed.).

PAYNE, Daniel G. Voices in the Wilderness: American Nature Writing and Environmental Politics. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1996.

WELTZIEN O. Alan, ed. The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2001.

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1 For instance in "Blurring the Tracks: How to Write about grizzlies in Rick Bass’s Winter and The Lost Grizzlies", Sources n° 17, Université d’Orléans, automne 2004, 42-57.

2 Slovic was circulating copies of poetry chapbook printed as part of a Wilderness Testimony project.

3 Barry Lopez’s recent collection of stories Resistance outlines what the steps towards establishing such non-violent relation might be.

4 Drilling was authorized by a Senate vote in March 2005.

5 In a conversation we had at the Toulouse Mountain conference some of whose proceeding are published in this volume.

6 My emphasis.

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Bibliographical reference

Yves-Charles Grandjeat, « Coming Down the Mountain: Text and Counter-text in Rick Bass’s Caribou Rising », Caliban, 23 | 2008, 281-288.

Electronic reference

Yves-Charles Grandjeat, « Coming Down the Mountain: Text and Counter-text in Rick Bass’s Caribou Rising », Caliban [Online], 23 | 2008, Online since 13 December 2016, connection on 25 February 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Yves-Charles Grandjeat

Université Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3

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Caliban – French Journal of English Studies est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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