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The Many Facets of Henry David Thoreau

While Henry David Thoreau may be viewed as a poster-child of transcendentalism and revered for his environmental consciousness, ecology and evolutionary biology professor Robert Thorson explores many other facets of this extraordinary man and his surroundings in his latest book, Walden’s Shore (Harvard University Press, 2014).

Thorson, a geologist by training and himself something of a poet, champions Thoreau’s refusal to be categorized as either ‘just’ a humanist or ‘just’ a scientist. In fact, he writes that in systems theory, Thoreau’s mind could be classified as an ‘intransitive’ system because, “It had two equally viable equilibrium states: the poetic and the scientific. During the summer of 1852 he was tottering on the threshold between these two states when he wrote his widely quoted statement that ‘every poet has trembled on the verge of science.’ The backdrop for this statement was not Thoreau the poet being seduced by science, but Thoreau the scientist being pushed to the brink of poetry.”

 

In his new book, Walden’s Shore, ecology and evolutionary biology professor Robert Thorson presents a reassessment of one of America’s leading men of letters.

In his new book, Walden’s Shore, ecology and evolutionary biology professor Robert Thorson presents a reassessment of one of America’s leading men of letters.

Robert Thorson reads passages of Thomas Cole and Henry David Thoreau to a group of students during a field trip, part of an honors course on Walden and the American Landscape.

Robert Thorson reads passages of Thomas Cole and Henry David Thoreau to a group of students during a field trip, part of an honors course on Walden and the American Landscape.

 

Read the full article at UConn Today


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