In 1913 outdoorsman Joseph Knowles pledged to spend two months in the woods of northern Maine, naked and alone, fending for himself “without the slightest communication or aid from the outside world.” In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Knowles’ adventures in the woods and the controversy that followed his return to civilization.
We’ll also consider the roots of nostalgia and puzzle over some busy brothers.
In 1972, a French physicist discovered a natural uranium reactor operating underground in Gabon.
In the 13th century the English royal menagerie included a polar bear.
Sources for our feature on Joseph Knowles:
Jim Motavalli, Naked in the Woods, 2007.
Joseph Knowles, Alone in the Wilderness, 1913.
Bill Donahue, “Naked Joe,” Boston Magazine, April 2013.
Richard O. Boyer, “The Nature Man,” New Yorker, June 18, 1938.
John Gould, “Tarzan of the Pines,” Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 1999.
Roderick Nash, “The American Cult of the Primitive,” American Quarterly 18:3 (Autumn 1966), 517-537.
Robert Moor, “The 1913 ‘Nature Man’ Whose Survivalist Stunts Were Not What They Seemed,” Atlas Obscura, July 7, 2016.
“Joe Knowles, Lived in Wilds Unarmed!”, New York Times, Oct. 23, 1942.
Joseph B. Frazier, “An Early Nature Buff: By Going Into the Woods Alone, Did Joe Knowles Remind America of Its Potential?”, Orlando Sentinel,…
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