Scott Russell Sanders is a literary critic, fiction writer and essayist who taught at Indiana University from 1971 until his retirement in 2009. An environmentalist and peace activist, Sanders has often focused his essays on the geography—spiritual and political—of his native Midwest.
Of the essay and its nature, he has written, “You may speak without disguise of what moves and worries and excites you. In fact, you had better speak from a region pretty close to the heart, or the reader will detect the wind of phoniness whistling through your hollow phrases. In the essay you may be caught with your pants down, your ignorance and sentimentality showing, while you trot recklessly about on one of your hobbyhorses. You cannot stand back from the action, as Joyce instructed us to do, and pare your fingernails. You cannot palm off your cockamamie notions on some hapless character. If the words you put down are foolish, everyone knows precisely who the fool is.” // Ned Stuckey-French