BN.com Gift Guide

Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau's Last Journey

Overview

While Henry David Thoreau’s travels to the Maine Woods and Cape Cod were well documented and have been followed by “Thoreauvians” for decades, his 1861 “journey west” with Horace Mann, Jr.—which took the duo from Massachusetts to Minnesota and back—was left to be veiled in mystery. This book details this, the last, longest, and least-known of Thoreau’s excursions. The story of two 19th-century men and the 21st-century woman who was determined to follow their 4,000-mile path, this account will intrigue history ...

See more details below
Paperback
$19.91
BN.com price
(Save 31%)$28.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $17.23   
  • New (6) from $17.23   
  • Used (4) from $17.40   
Sending request ...

Overview

While Henry David Thoreau’s travels to the Maine Woods and Cape Cod were well documented and have been followed by “Thoreauvians” for decades, his 1861 “journey west” with Horace Mann, Jr.—which took the duo from Massachusetts to Minnesota and back—was left to be veiled in mystery. This book details this, the last, longest, and least-known of Thoreau’s excursions. The story of two 19th-century men and the 21st-century woman who was determined to follow their 4,000-mile path, this account will intrigue history buffs as they follow in the footsteps of a popular American writer and naturalist.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In retracing Henry David Thoreau's little known final journey to Minnesota, undertaken in 1861 as he was dying of tuberculosis, librarian Smith mixes the personal and historical with varied success. For each leg of the trip the legendary transcendentalist undertook with a much younger companion, Horace Mann Jr., the author divides her presentation into three parts: documenting the duo's undertakings in that part of the country; updating readers on how the location has changed; and forging her own "Thoreauvian" connection. While the first two strategies are fairly productive, as the author skillfully reconstructs the journey from scraps of notebooks and other obscure sources (primarily Thoreau's Minnesota field notebook) and communicates the ways in which the country has changed in the last 150 years, the third approach is more problematic, with Smith inserting herself into the narrative, and in clichéd prose. Some of these side trips are useful (a discourse on Frank Lloyd Wright is illuminating), but including a poem she wrote for a local municipal event reads as indulgent. While Smith too often writes from the perspective of a fan, she succeeds, via enthusiasm and meticulous research, in bringing to life an underreported aspect of Thoreau's life, one that may inspire future studies. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

"Meticulously researched, brimming with energy and wit, it admirably fills an omission that previous biographies have been content to skip over."  —Jerry Dennis, author, The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas

"In her superbly written and researched book, she takes us to the places where Thoreau went and describes them, then and now. In addition, she enriches each segment of their trip with her own 'Thoreauvian adventure,' which reveals fascinating connections with Thoreau and others, from Frank Lloyd Wright in Wisconsin to lilacs on Michigan’s Mackinac Island."  —J. Parker Huber, author, The Wildest Country: Exploring Thoreau's Maine

"Corinne H. Smith has woven a complex tapestry of history, biography, and acute observation that would delight the sage of Walden Pond."  —David K. Leff, author, Deep Travel: In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack

"Smith succeeds, via enthusiasm and meticulous research, in bringing to life an underreported aspect of Thoreau's life, one that may inspire future studies." —Midwest Book Review (February 2013)

"Smith here presents a beautifully detailed account of their trip. . . . The story of Thoreau's last journey is a fascinating one that is still very much worth the read. Highly recommended for all Thoreau buffs, Thoreau collections, and travel memoir enthusiasts." —Library Journal Xpress Reviews (February 2013)

Library Journal
During the spring and summer of 1861, Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) went on a long journey west with the teenaged Horace Mann Jr. (1844–68) as his traveling companion. Smith here presents a beautifully detailed account of their trip, in which they went to Minnesota and back, returning by a different route, and using railroads and steamships in both directions, interspersing a narrative of her own journey re-creating theirs. It was to be the last journey that Thoreau made before succumbing to consumption the next year. (It was thought that the journey would improve his health.) Smith details the men’s route to and from Minnesota—including stops at Niagara Falls, NY; Redwing, MN; and Mackinac Island, MI; and travel through Ontario—as well as their botanical discoveries. Both men were avid observers of nature, but Smith’s emphasis is naturally on Thoreau, who filled 100 pages of a notebook with his observations.

Verdict Some Thoreau fans may find the current-day travel narrative distracting; it might have worked better as its own separate travel memoir. Nevertheless, the story of Thoreau’s last journey is a fascinating one that is still very much worth the read. Highly recommended for all Thoreau buffs, Thoreau collections, and travel memoir enthusiasts.—Sharon Britton, Bowling Green State Univ. Lib., Huron, OH

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781927043301
  • Publisher: Green Frigate Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Corinne Hosfeld Smith is a librarian with more than 30 years of experience who serves on the staff of the Mondor-Eagen Library at Anna Maria College. She lives in Athol, Massachusetts. Laura Dassow Walls is the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Emerson's Life in Science, The Passage to Cosmos, and Seeing New Worlds and the coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword Laura Dassow Wells xiii

Preface xxi

The Travelers and their Route 1

Chapter 1 Concord to Worcester 31

Chapter 2 In Worcester 41

Chapter 3 Worcester to Albany 59

Chapter 4 Albany to Suspension Bridge 79

Chapter 5 Niagara Falls, Goat Island, and Environs 93

Chapter 6 Niagara Falls to Detroit 117

Chapter 7 Detroit to Chicago 127

Chapter 8 In Chicago 147

Chapter 9 Chicago to Dunleith 171

Chapter 10 Dunleith to ST. Paul 191

Chapter 11 Around ST. Paul and Minneapolis 211

Chapter 12 The Lower Sioux Agency Excursion 251

Chapter 13 St. Paul to Prairie Du Chien 285

Chapter 14 Prairie Du Chien to Milwaukee 305

Chapter 15 Milwaukee to Mackinac Island 329

Chapter 16 Mackinac Island to Toronto 349

Chapter 17 Toronto to Ogdensburg 369

Chapter 18 Ogdensburg to Boston 381

Chapter 19 Boston to Concord 397

Great Circle Sailing 415

Acknowledgements 429

Index 431

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)