Blog Henry David Thoreau: A Life book review

Henry David Thoreau: A Life book review

Posted Nov. 17, 2018, 9:32 a.m. by T

Advertisement
KFAI - Undead

Henry David Thoreau: A Life

Laura Dassow Walls

University of Chicago Press

 

Henry David Thoreau.

A luminary of American literature canon.

A Life is more than a mere biography – Dr Laura Dassow Walls integrates Thoreau's life with his writings and thereby highlights his naturalistic and scientific interests in historic context. As a result, Thoreau emerges very vividly as a personality with family, friends, business responsibilities, humour, a courage, and an insatiable curiosity.

A splendid life-affirming paen to the sage of Walden Pond fame that makes it obvious that the author Walls is a fan of Thoreau and his oeuvre. The depth of her research makes possible the kind of detail which matters in a biography.

Wall details Thoreau's intense interest in science, and some of his discoveries, notably about forest succession. For me A Life also unveiled that Thoreau wrote far more than what the mainstream is aware of, especially in his journals.  His "Walking" and "Slavery in Massachusetts" are outstanding examples. I had not known about the posthumous discovery and editing of his final book, Wild Fruits, which Walls mentions repeatedly, though I had to go to her notes to find that it was actually published.

In a world with many lengthy and plodding biographies that do not really advance the story of the subject in a meaningful way, this one is an exceedingly well written book that gives a thorough and well-paced accounting of Thoreau, his surroundings, circle of friends, family and influences. A first-rate piece of work and I would highly recommend it to anyone with even passing interest in its subject as Walls bringing together the facts of his life and times, the places he has been, his friends and acquaintances as well as his influences on those around him helps to see a fuller version of the complexity and development of this writer, prophet, sage.

An expertly written recount of Thoreau's manifold activities that carefully manages to not overwhelm the reader.

No matter if you are a Thoreau novice or even an expert, this is the biography you want to read. It is not only informative but pleasant to read as one encounters the author's numerous perceptive insights.

Leave a comment
Share this content

Other recent blogs

Spring Loaded Festival 2021

Posted by T
May 9, 2021, 9:07 a.m.

Spring Loaded Racecourse Randwick Sydney, Australia May 8, 2021 Australia continues to see 2021 bringing back a sense of normalcy, with live shows becoming more regular occurrences and bigger music ... read more

Water of Life – Ester Spirits

Posted by T
May 8, 2021, 2:33 p.m.

Water of Life – Ester Spirits The mushrooming of gin distilleries on terra australis has been thoroughly documented over the last couple of years and while quality as well as ... read more

The Formative Years – Blut + Eisen

Posted by T
May 4, 2021, 8:07 p.m.

The Formative Years – Blut + Eisen   It was in the second half of the seventeenth century that the President of Prussia, i.e. Otto von Bismarck, concluded a speech ... read more

Water of Life – Launceston Distillery

Posted by T
May 3, 2021, 8:52 p.m.

Water of Life – Launceston Distillery   Our coverage of the Tasmanian whiskey landscape have mainly been focussed on Hobart and its surroundings, which could be perceived as one of ... read more

High Adventures in the Great Outdoors – Lonely Pla

Posted by T
May 2, 2021, 11:30 a.m.

High Adventures in the Great Outdoors – Lonely Planet   It has been almost fifty years since Lonely Planet was incepted, following Maureen and Tony Wheeler’s trip across Europe, Asia ... read more

Advertisement
Spacecase Records - skyscraper
x

Logo

Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.