Cape Cod

Overview

Some 150 years ago, the curiosity of Henry David Thoreau was piqued by a map he had seen of Cape Cod. As a surveyor and naturalist who had made countless excursions among the ponds not far from his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, Thoreau was intrigued by this peninsula, because it seemed to offer him his best view of the Atlantic. To those who now either live on the Cape, or who might come to visit, the simple desire to see the ocean might not seem worth all the time, the effort, and the discomfort that a ...
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Overview

Some 150 years ago, the curiosity of Henry David Thoreau was piqued by a map he had seen of Cape Cod. As a surveyor and naturalist who had made countless excursions among the ponds not far from his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, Thoreau was intrigued by this peninsula, because it seemed to offer him his best view of the Atlantic. To those who now either live on the Cape, or who might come to visit, the simple desire to see the ocean might not seem worth all the time, the effort, and the discomfort that a 19th-century excursion required. But Thoreau saw things differently than most folks, whether he was compared to people now or to his townsfolk back then. After all, he once remarked, more than two-thirds of the globe is covered with water, and yet many people who lived just a few miles inland stood about as much chance of seeing the ocean as they did of seeing a whole other world. And so, Thoreau began to plan his journey.

"On studying the map, I saw that there must be an uninterrupted beach on the east or outside of the forearm of the Cape, more than thirty miles from the general line of the coast," he would later write, "which would afford a good sea view." Henry David believed that he could walk this Great Outer Beach for some twenty-eight miles without any obstruction. By the autumn of 1849 he was ready to make the first of four trips to Cape Cod to encounter the ocean and to witness whatever influences the Atlantic must have had on the land, as well as the people who live upon it.

For the most part, these places which Thoreau visited are among the 45,000 acres designated as the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961. And though his footprints have long since vanished, his thoughts still run through the minds of all who come to this peninsula and witness the ocean for themselves. Whether you choose to pack this volume and walk with Thoreau, or sit still and savor its significance, you will find elsewhere no better companion than the author and no better authority than this work.

Thoreau's classic account of his meditative, beach-combing walking trips to Cape Cod in the early 1850s, reflecting on the elemental forces of the sea. With an introduction by Paul Theroux. This is one of the first titles in Penguin's new Nature Library series.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781163210420
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/10/2010
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Chapter I The Shipwreck 13
Chapter II Stage-Coach Views 25
Chapter III The Plains of Nauset 35
Chapter IV The Beach 54
Chapter V The Wellfleet Oysterman 71
Chapter VI The Beach Again 89
Chapter VII Across the Cape 109
Chapter VIII The Highland Light 125
Chapter IX The Sea and the Desert 145
Chapter X Provincetown 171
Epilogue: Thoreau's Final Visit 217
Index 246
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