The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau: Selected and Edited by Lewis Hyde

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9780865475854: The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau: Selected and Edited by Lewis Hyde

Thoreau's major essays annotated and introduced by one of our most vital intellectuals.

With The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau, Lewis Hyde gathers thirteen of Thoreau's finest short prose works and, for the first time in 150 years, presents them fully annotated and arranged in the order of their composition. This definitive edition includes Thoreau's most famous essays, "Civil Disobedience" and "Walking," along with lesser-known masterpieces such as "Wild Apples," "The Last Days of John Brown," and an account of his 1846 journey into the Maine wilderness to climb Mount Katahdin, an essay that ends on a unique note of sublimity and terror.

Hyde diverges from the long-standing and dubious editorial custom of separating Thoreau's politics from his interest in nature, a division that has always obscured the ways in which the two are constantly entwined. "Natural History of Massachusetts" begins not with fish and birds but with a dismissal of the political world, and "Slavery in Massachusetts" ends with a meditation on the water lilies blooming on the Concord River.

Thoreau's ideal reader was expected to be well versed in Greek and Latin, poetry and travel narrative, and politically engaged in current affairs. Hyde's detailed annotations clarify many of Thoreau's references and re-create the contemporary context wherein the nation's westward expansion was bringing to a head the racial tensions that would result in the Civil War.

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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.

From Library Journal:

After 150 years, Thoreau's elegant and sometimes eccentric writings continue to inspire environmentalists and political activists. According to Hyde (creative writing, Kenyon Coll.), most collections of Thoreau's prose tend to segregate his nature writings ("Walking") from his more political writings ("Civil Disobedience"). In this collection, Hyde arranges the essays in the chronological order in which Thoreau wrote them to demonstrate that Thoreau's political concerns were never far below the surface in his nature writings and that his concern with nature animated his political writings. In addition, Hyde provides extensive annotations to the essays, clarifying unfamiliar names and translating the Greek and Latin phrases that Thoreau was so fond of using. Hyde's edition contains all of Thoreau's well-known essays, e.g., "Walking," "Natural History of Massachusetts," and "A Plea for Captain John Brown," as well as some that are not as well known, e.g., "Autumnal Tints." Since all of these essays can be found in other collections, and since Hyde's annotations and arrangement are the only distinguishing features of this volume, only large public libraries and academic libraries need to buy it. Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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