This classic novel, first published in 1906 and based on Mary Austin's own experiences, captures the way of life of shepherds in the Sierra. Austin blends natural history, politics, and allegory in a genre-blurring narrative, championing local shepherds in their losing battle against the quickly developing tourist business in the Western Sierra during the nineteenth century. Austin had met many shepherds while visiting the Tejon ranches of Edward Beale and Henry Miller, and cultivated relationships with men others often thought of as ignorant, unambitious, and dirty, listening closely to their stories. Her neighbors were scandalized, but Austin respected the shepherds’ ways of thinking. Rather than portray these shepherds’ lives as part of a romantic bygone era, in this novel, she instead positions them as exemplifying potentially radical ways of living in and thinking about the world. Afterword by Barney Nelson.
“The Flock is not about Austin, and yet we have such a strong sense of personal presence, in her voice and style, that we are made to think about the way a mind comes to understand and be changed by listening to the stories of ‘others’ and retelling them. The reader is jolted from a position of passive reception of information into an awareness of the ambiguous creation of meaning.” -Melody Graulich, editor of Exploring Lost Borders: Critical Essays on Mary Austin