American Contradictions and Pastoral Visions: An Appraisal of Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden

  • Cannavò P
  • 9


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 7


    Citations of this article.


Leo Marx's 1964 The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America was a foundational work in environmental studies. This article discusses the volume's significance and how Marx's ideas have evolved in later essays. Especially noteworthy is Marx's insight into the contradictory relationship with nature embodied in American pastoralism. Americans celebrate nature and rural values and yet embrace industry and commercialism as means to a pastoral utopia, even though these are ultimately destructive of the natural environment. Given these contradictions and the ascendancy of industrial and commercial values, Marx argues that American pastoralism ultimately fails as a viable cultural and political ideal. This article is critical of such pessimism but also shows how, in later essays, Marx revises his prognosis. Marx comes to see the pastoral ideal, particularly as manifested in environmentalism, as offering a key political alternative to contemporary industrial society and its social and ecological pathologies.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Peter F. Cannavò

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free