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Thoreau and the Language of Trees Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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“This beautiful book brings us face to face with one of Thoreau’s true passions—his love for trees, leaf by leaf and in the whole. Richard Higgins interweaves a generous selection of Thoreau’s writings and drawings, classic Herbert Wendell Gleason photographs of trees long gone, and his own extraordinary photographs of trees in our time. To round off the feast, each chapter opens with one of Higgins’s graceful and deeply informed essays. Few books satisfy the eye, the mind, and the heart so fully as this one: one part elegy, two parts celebration, deep-rooted in the earth, and brimful with sheer joy.”—Laura Dassow Walls, author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life
“In Thoreau’s era, unbroken forest stretched from New England to the Mississippi. Trees were always his best companions. He studied them with love and care, and from that knowledge built noble lessons for us all on how to live. As a writer and photographer, Richard Higgins has made of that material a brilliant, evocative book about the precious natural heritage of North America.”—William Howarth, author of The Book of Concord and Walking with Thoreau
“Thoreau wrote that ‘trees indeed have hearts.’ In compiling this expressive compilation of Thoreau’s writings on trees, Richard Higgins has indeed found the heart and the soul of the tree. We have much to learn about ourselves from the tree: from its strength as well as its pliancy; from its life stages from seedling to sapling to eventual death; and from its place in the community. Higgins helps us to see the forest for the trees.”—Jeffrey S. Cramer, editor of The Portable Thoreau
“Thoreau and the Language of Trees provides an unusually patient and devoted reading and interrogation of Thoreau’s primary works. The world as reported here is both Thoreau’s and Higgins’s; a capable and objective reporter in his own right, Higgins traverses the century and a half that nominally separates him from Thoreau with an ease that enables him to convey his subject’s lifelong interest in trees and their language to modern readers.”—Ronald A. Bosco, Distinguished Research Professor of American Literature, University at Albany, SUNY
“Thoreau and the Language of Trees elegantly fills a significant, previously unoccupied niche. The perceptive introduction and thematic chapter essays combine with quotations and sketches by Thoreau and with new and vintage photographs to form a masterfully guided tour—a tour whose visionary sylvan revelations speak to the imagination and the intellect.”—Ronald Wesley Hoag, East Carolina University
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Drawing primarily from the Journal but also “Autumnal Tints,” A Week, The Maine Woods, and the posthumous work Faith in a Seed, Higgins organizes Thoreau’s thoughts on trees thematically, into chapters with titles like “A Mind for Trees,” “A Heart for Trees,” and “A Poet’s Trees.”
For each one, Higgins begins with an essay that examines the theme through sensitive commentary, often benefiting from local knowledge, and deft arrangement of brief quotations.