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John Fowles (1926-2005) is widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the twentieth century-his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, been turned into beloved films, and been popularly voted among the 100 greatest novels of the century.To a smaller yet no less passionate audience, Fowles is also known for having written The Tree, one of his few works of nonfiction. First published a generation ago, it is a provocative meditation on the connection between the natural world and human creativity, and a powerful argument against taming the wild. In it, Fowles recounts his own childhood in England and describes how he rebelled against his Edwardian father's obsession with the quantifiable yield” of well-pruned fruit trees and came to prize instead the messy, purposeless beauty of nature left to its wildest.The Tree is an inspiring, even life-changing book, like Lewis Hyde's The Gift, one that reaffirms our connection to nature and reminds us of the pleasure of getting lost, the merits of having no plan, and the wisdom of following one's nose wherever it may lead-in life as much as in art.