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The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau Paperback – May 5, 2002
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“Hyde's volume is a well-chosen, handsome collection of essays with a splendid introduction. Everyone will want to use it--it's a real contribution.” ―Robert D. Richardson, author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
“This thoughtfully-edited gathering of Thoreau's essays will surely be of great interest both to Thoreauvians and to readers approaching his work for the first time.” ―Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture
“[This book is] much enhanced by Hyde's intelligent and entertaining introduction. He has collected thirteen of Thoreau's essays but has chosen to depart from the customary practice of separating 'nature' essays from 'political' essays, instead arranging them in the order of their composition. In so doing, Hyde reminds us that the two worlds were indivisible even in the mind of Thoreau. To separate what we call 'human nature' from what we call 'the natural world' has always been the work of sophistry, never a reflection of the truth.” ―The Newark Star Ledger
“The first fully annotated edition of Thoreau's major essays, here presented in the order Thoreau wrote them: 'Natural History of Massachusetts,' 'A Winter Walk,' 'Paradise (To Be) Regained,' 'Ktaadn,' 'Civil Disobedience,' 'Walking,' 'Slavery in Massachusetts,' 'Life without Principle,' 'Autumnal Tints,' 'The Succession of Forest Trees,' 'A Plea for Captain John Brown,' 'The Last Days of John Brown,' and 'Wild Apples.' Includes 'A Note on the Selection' of the essays, a bibliography, thirteen illustrations, a map to accompany 'Ktaadn,' and a detailed index. After the excellent, often fascinating annotations, which are presented in the back of the volume (the essays appear in clear-text form), the most valuable component of the volume is Hyde's insightful forty-three-page introduction, titled 'Prophetic Excursions.' By far the most useful, most informative single collection of Thoreau's short prose we have had.” ―Bradley Dean, The Thoreau Society Bulletin
About the Author
Lewis Hyde is the author of Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, and a book of poems, This Error Is the Sign of Love. He is Thomas Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College.
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Thoreau's work has always inspired me. With the popularity on Into the Wild, thank God we saw an increase in his works. I will forever continue to seek for truth, and find solace in nature. It helped me get through my sexual abuse and treatment.
is or perh
aps even something like this.
(Spacing for example)
Wouldn't mind having more notes within the text (much better than end notes).
However, the package Better World Books shipped this in was DECIMATED and almost ripped open in the mail. It was in a plastic sealed bag that was ripped open down the side. I think the post office put rubber bands around it, but it's lucky the books weren't damaged. I'm pleased with the book but disappointed with the shipping method.
Some of these titles are more familiar to us than others, because writings such as "Civil Disobedience" and "Walking" appear in dozens (if not hundreds) of compilation volumes. I found two gems in this book. The first is Hyde's own introductory essay, "Prophetic Excursions," which provides a personal and unique perspective for approaching the genre. The second is "Paradise (to be ) Regained," in which Thoreau reviews the 1842 book, "The Paradise within the Reach of all Men, without Labor, by Powers of Nature and Machinery. An Address to all Intelligent Men" by J.A. Etzler. Talk about FUNNY! Mr. Etzler evidently proposed to use the energy produced by the wind, the tide, the waves, and sunshine in order to power all the machinery needs of mankind. And Henry shoots him down at every turn! One wonders what either man would think of our current solar energy efforts and those proposals to put wind farms on Cape Cod. Of additional interest here are the annotations to the text, in which Hyde lets us in on many of Thoreau's inside jokes and references -- the kinds of remarks that would have been obvious to his contemporaries and to anyone with reading knowledge of classical literature.
Even the cover art was well-chosen for this volume. It's "Water Lily," a painting done by American John La Farge in the early 1860s. The inspiration was obviously taken from "Slavery in Massachusetts," when Thoreau stops in the midst of railing against the injustices of the Fugitive Slave Law to talk about the scent of a water lily:
"It bursts up so pure and fair to the eye, and so sweet to the scent, as if to show us what purity and sweetness reside in, and can be extracted from, the slime and muck of earth. ... It reminds me that Nature has been partner to no Missouri Compromise. ... The foul slime stands for the sloth and vice of man, the decay of humanity; the fragrant flower that springs from it, for the purity and courage which are immortal." (p. 193)
Even in his political essays, Thoreau couldn't avoid making analogies with the natural world. That's one of the points Lewis Hyde makes with this volume: you can't separate the natural from the political when you're dealing with Thoreau's writings. It's impossible to focus on just one or