Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind

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9780520054950: Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind

The two years Thoreau spent at Walden Pond and the night he spent in the Concord jail are among the most familiar features of the American intellectual landcscape. In this new biography, based on a rexamination of Thoreau's manuscripts and on a retracing of his trips, Robert Richardson offers a view of Thoreau's life and achievement in their full ninteeth-century context.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Emerson described his friend Thoreau as "the bachelor of thought and nature," and in this absorbing and sparklingly fresh biography, which examines and relates the private and public contexts of Thoreau's life from 1837, when he was 20, to his death in 1862, Richardson shows him to have been as much a reader and thinker as a saunterer in the woods. We see him entering and emerging from the shadow of Emerson; delving into the Greek and Roman Stoics, ancient Hindu philosophy and contemporary German literature (particularly Goethe); siding with Darwin in the famous Agassiz-Darwin controversy over evolution; forging his philosophy of personal integrity based on his concept of nature as law. Richardson closely scrutinizes not only Walden but Thoreau's other writings, and the result of his composite portrait is that we see Thoreau perhaps more vividly than ever before, as traveler of the mind, significant thinker and likable man. Richardson teaches at the University of Denver. Reader's Subscription Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Thoreau would have appreciated the fact that here, "mind" is not limited to abstractions but includes the web of personal relations and political contexts, the physical textures of seasonal life. Further, Richardson, like Thoreau, writes on the level of most significant detail; his account of Thoreau's development from his return to Concord from Harvard in 1837 to his death in 1862 is neither diffusively tedious nor glibly generalizing. He is particularly original in delineating the major foreign influences on Thoreau, especially the German (Goethe), the classical (Cato), and the British (Gilpin, Darwin, and Ruskin). The style is graceful and clear, and the author's admiration for his subject does not lapse into adulation or preachiness. Both a fine introduction and a major scholarly contribution. Martin Bickman, English Dept., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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