"This slender volume is filled with an amazing range of topics, and it gives us great insight into the world of Thoreau as well as into life in America in the nineteenth century."
—Barbara G. Mahany, Current Books on Gardening & Botany
William Rossi's introduction puts the essays in the context of Thoreau's other major works, both chronologically and intellectually. Rossi also shows how these writings relate to Thoreau's life and career as both writer and naturalist: his readings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Darwin; his failed bid for commercial acceptance of his work; and his pivotal encounter with the utter wildness of the Maine woods. In the essays themselves, readers will see how Thoreau melded conventions of natural history writing with elements of two popular literary forms—travel writing and landscape writing—to explore concerns ranging from America's westward expansion to the figural dimensions of scientific facts and phenomena.
Thoreau the thinker, observer, wanderer, and inquiring naturalist—all emerge in this distinctive composite picture of the economic, natural, and spiritual communities that left their marks on one of our most important early environmentalists.
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