With the rise of ecocriticism, many recent studies of Thoreau’s writings have favorably reconsidered the author’s strong relationship with science; this trend received much of its impetus from Laura Dassow Walls’s Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century NaturalScience (Madison, WI, 1995). Similarly subtitled, Walden’s Shore begins by explaining that such scholarship still lacks an engagement with hard science and that a solid understanding of Thoreau’s work, and especially of Walden (1854), requires more intimate knowledge of geological phenomena. Robert Thorson is a professor of geology at the University of Connecticut whose last book, Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America’s Kettle Lakes and Ponds (New York, 2009), was a general account of small lakes in the Midwest and Northeast; he now restricts his view to Walden’s immediate environs in order to establish Thoreau’s reputation as a ‘‘pioneering geoscientist’’ (16). While countless books and articles have promoted Thoreau’s love of nature, this ‘‘nature’’ is often characterized as organic: flowers, trees, birds, fish, etc. Many overlook the fact that Thoreau, as Thorson insists, was just as strongly attuned to the inorganic: minerals, mountains, rivers, and lakes.
English Language and Literature | Literature in English, North America
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Review of Walden's Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science, by Robert M. Thorson.
Journal of the Early Republic, 34(4),