WILD FRUITS by Henry David Thoreau

WILD FRUITS

Thoreau's Rediscovered Last Manuscript
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A work that has escaped publication since Thoreau wrote it, Wild Fruits will only strengthen the author’s renown for his unique voice. A keeper of the Thoreau flame and Thoreau scholar, Bradley Dean (editor of a similar Thoreau work, Faith in a Seed, 1993, prematurely described in these pages as “no doubt [the] final Thoreau book of the century”), has now transcribed and brought to life still another of the Concord naturalist and philosopher’s manuscripts that was never published in his lifetime. It is, as Dean wisely characterizes it, both a sacramental and scriptural work. The product of years of naturalistic observation, these lovely essays’some extended, some as short as a sentence—about flowers, bushes, and trees were originally culled by their author for lectures he delivered. They reveal his characteristic Transcendentalist views, his never-ending search “to find God in nature.” A mix of empirical science, philosophical speculation, and occasionally tart wit, they are wonderfully pleasing for the knowledge they evince and for their calm, melodious cadences. Fortunately, too, Thoreau the keen and distinctive thinker is ever-present. Indignant, for example, at his contemporaries’ failure to appreciate the huckleberry, he likens their obtuseness to the loss of “natural rights,” thus giving fresh meaning to an ancient term. While never intruding on—in fact, scarcely explaining—Thoreau’s prose, Dean artfully provides notes glossing terms, names, and references that might be obscure to a modern reader. He thus makes this 150-year-old work fully accessible to everyone. A work of often incandescent prose likely to find many readers among historians, naturalists, literary scholars, and, most of all, those who have long loved and learned from the author of Walden and other beloved texts. (Line drawings throughout; 3 facsimile manuscript pages.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-393-04751-2
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999




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