Books: Unregarded Berries

Wild Fruits, Thoreau's new work, is as fresh as when he wrote it more than 130 years ago

During the last decade of his life, Henry David Thoreau (1817-62) began a systematic survey of the Massachusetts vegetation surrounding Concord, where he lived in the third-floor attic of his parents' house. His mission, as he told his journal, was "to find God in nature," the Transcendental imperative he absorbed from his mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. True, the 26 months Thoreau had spent living alone in a cabin by Walden Pond, memorialized in Walden (1854), involved a similar quest for some "trace of the Ineffable," but now he wanted to remove himself from the center of his observations and let the...

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