The Thoreau Log: A Documentary Life of Henry David Thoreau (American Authors Log Series)

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9780816189854: The Thoreau Log: A Documentary Life of Henry David Thoreau (American Authors Log Series)
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Thoreau is often linked with his fellow New Englander Emily Dickinson as an example of the isolated, reclusive, antisocial genius devoted to literature. Though not the most gregarious of men, neither was Thoreau the "hermit of Walden" so many imagine him to have been. Compared with Dickinson, or even with many of his contemporaries, Thoreau was actually a widely traveled social being.
He attended Harvard College, and throughout his life returned frequently to Cambridge and Boston to borrow books from their libraries, visit with friends, and partake of cultural events. He lived for a time on Staten Island, and during this period became familiar with New York City. As a curious student of humanity and nature, he traveled to Cape Cod, New Hampshire, the Maine woods, and Canada. And when he was dying, he journeyed west as far as Minnesota in search of a climate that might restore his health.
Thoreau was an intimate of Emerson and Bronson Alcott, knew Margaret Fuller and Hawthorne, and had a circle of transcendentalist admirers he frequently visited. He corresponded regularly with Horace Greeley and the naturalist Louis Aggasiz and met Walt Whitman and the abolitionist John Brown. Indeed, his journal and correspondence reveal Thoreau as a man who knew and was known by an amazing number of the brightest, most creative people of his time.
Raymond Borst's The Thoreau Log should set to rest forever the notion that Thoreau lived an isolated life. Drawing from a wide array of contemporary sources, including public records, the Harvard College archives, the diaries, journals, and letters of his friends and acquaintances, newspaper reports, his publishers' records, legal documents, reviews of his works, and Thoreau's own Journal, Borst has reconstructed a detailed account of Thoreau's life that informs us of what Thoreau did, who he saw, who he corresponded with, what he was reading, and what he was thinking on a day-by-day basis.
The fruit of a lifetime's devotion to Thoreau study, The Thoreau Log will be an invaluable tool for Thoreau scholars and admirers. But the Log is no dry and dull chronology, a bare statement of facts. Rich with quotations not only from Thoreau but also from Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott, Fuller, and many others, it offers the curious reader a unique opportunity to enter into the concentric worlds of Concord, Massachusetts, New England, and the United States in the decades before the Civil War; to experience the transcendental community from the inside; to envision the still small, but growing world of American letters; and to understand many of the emotional, intellectual, and social currents that characterized Thoreau's America and that still exert influence today. But most of all, The Thoreau Log enables the interested reader to commune with one of the most remarkable and original minds the world has produced.
Complemented by a rich array of illustrations, brief biographies of significant people in Thoreau's life, useful cross-references, detailed source notes, and a comprehensive index, The Thoreau Log is destined to become the scholarly foundation upon which all future biographical and critical interpretations of Thoreau's life and writings will be based. Thoreau's admirers will celebrate Borst for his patient, careful, and intelligent effort to integrate everything known about Thoreau's life into a unified and comprehensive record.

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Thoreau, Henry David
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Henry David Thoreau; Compiler-Raymond R. Borst
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