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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2017
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Book description

Well known for his contrarianism and solitude, Henry David Thoreau was nonetheless deeply responsive to the world around him. His writings bear the traces of his wide-ranging reading, travels, political interests, and social influences. Henry David Thoreau in Context brings together leading scholars of Thoreau and nineteenth-century American literature and culture and presents original research, valuable synthesis of historical and scholarly sources, and innovative readings of Thoreau's texts. Across thirty-four chapters, this collection reveals a Thoreau deeply concerned with and shaped by a diverse range of environments, intellectual traditions, social issues, and modes of scientific practice. Essays also illuminate important posthumous contexts and consider the specific challenges of contextualizing Thoreau today. This collection provides a rich understanding of Thoreau and nineteenth-century American literature, political activism, and environmentalist thinking that will be a vital resource for students, teachers, scholars, and general readers.


'The essays are consistently sharp, smart, evenhanded, jargon free, and accessible, their brevity (all are 10–11 pages length) lending each the quality of a tantalizing entrée into an aspect of Thoreau's writing and culture. … The collection demonstrates (in brief) the scores of fascinating ways that contemporary criticism sees and reads Thoreau. … Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.'

G. D. MacDonald Source: CHOICE

'The genre more or less demands that the contributor’s aim be to connect Thoreau with some extracted slice of the ambient culture, leading to a stackable set of conjoined or binary analyses: Thoreau and Religion, Thoreau and Technology, Thoreau and Native America, and so forth, an arrangement more exactly developed in the Finley collection.'

Albert J. Von Frank Source: Modern Intellectual History

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