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Wild Apples and Other Natural History Essays

Henry D. Thoreau Edited by William Rossi

Publication Year: 2002

This volume of seven essays and a late lecture by Henry David Thoreau makes available important material written both before and after Walden. First appearing in the 1840s through the 1860s, the essays were written during a time of great change in Thoreau's environs, as the Massachusetts of his childhood became increasingly urbanized and industrialized.

William Rossi's introduction puts the essays in the context of Thoreau's other major works, both chronologically and intellectually. Rossi also shows how these writings relate to Thoreau's life and career as both writer and naturalist: his readings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Darwin; his failed bid for commercial acceptance of his work; and his pivotal encounter with the utter wildness of the Maine woods. In the essays themselves, readers will see how Thoreau melded conventions of natural history writing with elements of two popular literary forms--travel writing and landscape writing--to explore concerns ranging from America's westward expansion to the figural dimensions of scientific facts and phenomena.

Thoreau the thinker, observer, wanderer, and inquiring naturalist--all emerge in this distinctive composite picture of the economic, natural, and spiritual communities that left their marks on one of our most important early environmentalists.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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p. 6-6

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pp. vi-

This collection was begun with the generous assistance of Bob Sattlemeyer, who had the foresight twenty years ago to reprint these essays. I am also grateful to Cristina Calhoon, whose knowledge of Virgil, and John Lysaker, whose knowledge of the history ...

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pp. vii- xxiv

Born on his maternal grandmother’s farm two miles outside the agricultural village of Concord, Massachusetts, on July 12, 1817, Henry Thoreau grew up in a family that participated actively in the popular nineteenth-century passion for natural history. Local legend...

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A Note on Texts

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pp. xxv- xxvii

Except for “Huckleberries,” the essays collected here were originally gathered in a posthumous volume, Excursions, edited by Sophia Thoreau and William Ellery Channing and published by Ticknor and Fields in 1863. Of these, “The Succession of Forest Trees” had first been published in the New...

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Natural History of Massachusetts

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pp. 1- 24

Books of natural history make the most cheerful winter reading. I read in Audubon with a thrill of delight, when the snow covers the ground, of the magnolia, and the Florida keys, and their warm sea-breezes; of the fence-rail, and the cotton-tree, and the migrations...

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A Walk to Wachusett

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pp. 25- 41

Summer and winter our eyes had rested on the dim outline of the mountains in our horizon, to which distance and indistinctness lent a grandeur not their own, so that they served equally to interpret all the allusions of poets and travelers; whether with Homer,...

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A Winter Walk

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pp. 42- 58

The wind has gently murmured through the blinds, or puffed with feathery softness against the windows, and occasionally sighed like a summer zephyr lifting the leaves along, the livelong night. The meadow mouse has slept in his snug gallery in the sod, the owl has...

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pp. 59- 92

wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,— to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement...

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The Succession of Forest Trees

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pp. 93- 108

Every man is entitled to come to Cattle-Show, even a transcendentalist; and for my part I am more interested in the men than in the cattle. I wish to see once more those old familiar faces, whose names I do not know, which for me represent the Middlesex...

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Autumnal Tints

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pp. 109- 139

Europeans coming to America are surprised by the brilliancy of our autumnal foliage. There is no account of such a phenomenon in English poetry, because the trees acquire but few bright colors there. The most that Thomson says on this subject in his “Autumn"...

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Wild Apples

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pp. 140- 165

t is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man. The geologist tells us that the order of the Rosaceae, which includes the apple, also the true grasses, and the Labiatae, or mints, were introduced only a short time previous...

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pp. 166- 202

Many public speakers are accustomed, as I think foolishly, to talk about what they call little things in a patronising way sometimes, advising, perhaps, that they be not wholly neglected; but in making this distinction they really use no juster measure than...

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pp. 203- 220

In addition to textual explanations for items asterisked in the list of emendations, these annotations include literary, biblical, and topical allusions, obscure references, and (when possible) quoted sources not identified by Thoreau. Short titles are provided for Thoreau’s sources; and, unless otherwise...

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 221- 226


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pp. 227- 236

E-ISBN-13: 9780820326368
E-ISBN-10: 0820326364
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820324128
Print-ISBN-10: 0820324124

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2002