Thoreau’s Botany: Thinking and Writing with Plants


Available for Pre-order. Due September 2023.
Thoreau’s Botany: Thinking and Writing with Plants Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: University of Virginia Press
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Pages: 228 Language: English ISBN: 9780813949475 Categories: , , , ,

Thoreau’s last years have been the subject of debate for decades, but only recently have scholars and critics begun to appreciate the posthumous publications, unfinished manuscripts, and Journal entries that occupied the writer after Walden (1854). Until now, no critical reader has delved deeply enough into botany to see how Thoreau’s plant studies impact his thinking and writing. Thoreau’s Botany moves beyond general literary appreciation for the botanical works to apply Thoreau’s extensive studies of botany–from 1850 to his death in 1862–to readings of his published and unpublished works in fresh, interdisciplinary ways. Bringing together critical plant studies, ecocriticism, and environmental humanities, James Perrin Warren argues that Thoreau’s botanical excursions establish a meeting ground of science and the humanities that is only now ready to be recognized by readers of American literature and environmental literature.

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“Thoreau's Botany has the potential to make a significant contribution to the scholarship on Thoreau and Transcendentalist studies, as well as the fields of environmental and ecological studies. It is well researched and offers a valuable portrayal of Thoreau’s gradual development into serious botanical research and efforts to develop a comprehensive understanding and treatment of plants as our true companions in nature and its life. Warren's extensive close reading of the essay "Autumnal Tints" represents a high point, and the author's disquisition on Walden’s Sand Foliage passage is particularly outstanding.” - David M. Robinson, Oregon State University, author of Natural Life: Thoreau’s Worldly Transcendentalism “When Covid forced Jim Warren into a long spell of isolation in New Mexico’s arid Jemez Mountains, he found himself on an unexpected journey into "plant thinking," with Thoreau as his botanical guide into a new mode of awareness, a new way of knowing. In this illuminating book, Warren tracks Thoreau’s own experimental journey into a dynamic natural world that is thinking all the time, where plants become words spoken by the soil, bespeaking the vital language of the Earth. In this new way of understanding "the limits and possibilities of language," Warren finds, with Thoreau, a reconnection to faith in the human ability to divine meaning, even in the hard-used, drought-stricken terrain of the Anthropocene.” - Laura Dassow Walls, University of Notre Dame, author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life