Jay Parini

‘Taller Than the Trees’

The Adventures of Henry Thoreau: A Young Man’s Unlikely Path to Walden Pond

By

Bloomsbury 372pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

One hesitates before any new book on Henry David Thoreau. He is, of course, the equal of Emerson, Dickinson and Whitman as a major writer of the mid-19th century, that magical period once called the American Renaissance. Writers in that period understood that ‘nature is the symbol of spirit’, as Emerson put it, and that ‘every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact’. These classic statements come from ‘Nature’ (1836), Emerson’s seminal essay behind the movement known as Transcendentalism. Emerson believed in ‘correspondences’ – that nature and spirit were deeply connected. Yet whereas he put forward the theory, his younger friend Thoreau found the bright particulars, writing perhaps the finest memoir of the 19th century in Walden (1854).

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,