"This wonderful book is both a practical and a philosophical field guide to the natural gifts of the American countryside."—AudubonThe final harvest of our great nature writer’s last years, Wild Fruits presents Thoreau’s distinctly American gospel—a sacramental vision of nature in which "the tension between Thoreau the naturalist and Thoreau the missionary for nature’s wonders invigorates nearly every page" (Time). In transcribing the 150-year-old manuscript’s cryptic handwriting and complex notations, Thoreau specialist Bradley Dean has performed a "heroic feat of decipherment" (Booklist) to bring this great work to light. Readers will discover "passages that reach for the transcendentalist ideal of writing new scriptures, yet grounding this Bible in a vision of practical ecology" (Boston). Beautifully illustrated throughout with line drawings of the natural life Thoreau considers on his walks, Wild Fruits is "well worth any nature lover’s attention" (Christian Science Monitor). Illustrated with line drawings
We scarcely know Thoreau better, writes archivist and scholar Bradley Dean: we still remember him today for having spent time in jail and spinning philosophy out of the New England woods. On the strength of this lost, and now published, final manuscript of Thoreau's, Dean would have us think of him as a protoecologist, and for very good reason. In the last years of his life, Thoreau resolved to learn better the science behind nature, and in Wild Fruits he collected the lore and facts surrounding the plants around his home, observing such things as the quantity of chestnuts that local trees were producing, the myriad shapes of pine cones as they unfold, the taste of "fever bush," and the smell of sweet gale.
The unfinished manuscript, cataloging dozens of species, affords a fascinating glimpse into Thoreau's method as an amateur student of nature--a method worthy of close study and imitation. Dean adds greatly to it with his intelligent commentary, which revisits Thoreau's sources, corrects a few of his errors, and emphasizes the writer's importance to natural history and belles-lettres alike. --Gregory McNamee