“Hyde's volume is a well-chosen, handsome collection of essays with a splendid introduction. Everyone will want to use itit's a real contribution.” Robert D. Richardson, author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
“This thoughtfully-edited gathering of Thoreau's essays will surely be of great interest both to Thoreauvians and to readers approaching his work for the first time.” Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture
“[This book is] much enhanced by Hyde's intelligent and entertaining introduction. He has collected thirteen of Thoreau's essays but has chosen to depart from the customary practice of separating 'nature' essays from 'political' essays, instead arranging them in the order of their composition. In so doing, Hyde reminds us that the two worlds were indivisible even in the mind of Thoreau. To separate what we call 'human nature' from what we call 'the natural world' has always been the work of sophistry, never a reflection of the truth.” The Newark Star Ledger
“The first fully annotated edition of Thoreau's major essays, here presented in the order Thoreau wrote them: 'Natural History of Massachusetts,' 'A Winter Walk,' 'Paradise (To Be) Regained,' 'Ktaadn,' 'Civil Disobedience,' 'Walking,' 'Slavery in Massachusetts,' 'Life without Principle,' 'Autumnal Tints,' 'The Succession of Forest Trees,' 'A Plea for Captain John Brown,' 'The Last Days of John Brown,' and 'Wild Apples.' Includes 'A Note on the Selection' of the essays, a bibliography, thirteen illustrations, a map to accompany 'Ktaadn,' and a detailed index. After the excellent, often fascinating annotations, which are presented in the back of the volume (the essays appear in clear-text form), the most valuable component of the volume is Hyde's insightful forty-three-page introduction, titled 'Prophetic Excursions.' By far the most useful, most informative single collection of Thoreau's short prose we have had.” Bradley Dean, The Thoreau Society Bulletin
After 150 years, Thoreau's elegant and sometimes eccentric writings continue to inspire environmentalists and political activists. According to Hyde (creative writing, Kenyon Coll.), most collections of Thoreau's prose tend to segregate his nature writings ("Walking") from his more political writings ("Civil Disobedience"). In this collection, Hyde arranges the essays in the chronological order in which Thoreau wrote them to demonstrate that Thoreau's political concerns were never far below the surface in his nature writings and that his concern with nature animated his political writings. In addition, Hyde provides extensive annotations to the essays, clarifying unfamiliar names and translating the Greek and Latin phrases that Thoreau was so fond of using. Hyde's edition contains all of Thoreau's well-known essays, e.g., "Walking," "Natural History of Massachusetts," and "A Plea for Captain John Brown," as well as some that are not as well known, e.g., "Autumnal Tints." Since all of these essays can be found in other collections, and since Hyde's annotations and arrangement are the only distinguishing features of this volume, only large public libraries and academic libraries need to buy it. Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The 13 essays gathered here are among Thoreau's best writing: crackingly sharp, like a bright winter morning after a snowfall. Such favorites as "Walking," "Civil Disobedience," and "Natural History of Massachusetts," as well as "Wild Apples" and "Autumnal Tints" distill his customary preoccupations with nature and how to live in the world. Given that these pieces are reprinted regularly, what makes this collection special is the thoughtful introduction from Hyde (Creative Writing/Kenyon Coll.; Trickster Makes the World, 1998, etc.). He offers access to the essays by way of Thoreau's prophetic voice speaking "of things that will be true in the future because they are true in all time." Hyde notes the declarative, redemptive, spontaneous, imaginative, and intuitive nature of Thoreau's words. "My genius makes distinctions which my understanding cannot," the naturalist once wrote. Yet he is no unworldly sage; two essays defending abolitionist John Brown show that Thoreau can get down in the political trenches as well. A century and a half after they were written, as Hyde notes, the power of these essays comes "quickly back to life for any reader with ears to hear the many registers of their author's voice."