Thoreau’s Spring

Henry David Thoreau springs eternal. His is a literary legacy that continues bright and strong, season after season. Reprints of his best work, editions of annotated essays, books of his quotes, biographies, even comics -- Thoreau remains a force of nature. So in commemoration of his death day, May 6, 1862, let’s consider three new books, published in just the last six months, that honor his life and work.

Walden Warming.jpgIn Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau’s Woods, author Richard B. Primack uses Thoreau’s Walden, as well as the nineteenth-century naturalist’s unpublished notes, to track the effects of a warming climate on Concord’s flora and fauna. In one example, Thoreau records the first open blueberry flowers on May 11, 1853; Primack finds that after the record-breaking warm season of 2012, blueberries in Concord began flowering on April 1. Thoreau biographer Robert J. Richardson Jr. writes, “Primack’s book is important in three ways: it is a report on what global warming has already done to a much-loved bit of American space--Walden Pond; it is a detailed warning about what we are now facing; and it is a stirring call to arms, especially to young Americans and students about how they can help.”

Walden Shore.jpgWalden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science by Robert M. Thorson depicts Thoreau as a man whose brain ‘toggled [between] poetic and scientific.’ The University of Connecticut professor takes a fresh approach by looking at him as a geologist--a rock collector who was able to interpret his landscape as both a poet and a field scientist. Jeffrey S. Cramer, editor of the Portable Thoreau and curator of collections at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods wrote, “Walden’s Shore has no predecessor in the field of Thoreau studies. It is a welcome addition and a needed reassessment of an iconic figure.”

Adventures.jpg
In his new biography, The Adventures of Henry Thoreau: A Young Man’s Unlikely Path to Walden Pond, Michael Sims recounts the author’s younger years --from Harvard to the excursion at Walden--and uncovers a “hidden” Thoreau,  rowdier perhaps than we would expect. Many critics have lauded Sims for his fresh take on Thoreau. Booklist called it a “
surpassingly vivid and vital chronicle of Thoreau’s formative years - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-adventures-of-henry-thoreau-9781620401958/#sthash.pNH6jEyi.dpuf
surpassingly vivid and vital chronicle of Thoreau’s formative years.” 
a previously hidden Thoreau--the rowdy boy reminiscent of Tom Sawyer, the sarcastic college iconoclast, the devoted son who kept imitating his beloved older brother’s choices in life - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-adventures-of-henry-thoreau-9781620401958/#sthash.pNH6jEyi.dpuf
a previously hidden Thoreau--the rowdy boy reminiscent of Tom Sawyer, the sarcastic college iconoclast, the devoted son who kept imitating his beloved older brother’s choices in life. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-adventures-of-henry-thoreau-9781620401958/#sthash.pNH6jEyi.dpuf
a previously hidden Thoreau--the rowdy boy reminiscent of Tom Sawyer, the sarcastic college iconoclast, the devoted son who kept imitating his beloved older brother’s choices in life. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-adventures-of-henry-thoreau-9781620401958/#sthash.pNH6jEyi.dpuf


Images via University of Chicago; Harvard University Press; Bloomsbury USA.

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