Thoreau's Late Career and The Dispersion of Seeds

Thoreau's Late Career and The Dispersion of Seeds

The Saunterer's Synoptic Vision

Michael Berger


Camden House



The first detailed study of a major but neglected work by Thoreau.
Until very recently, only a handful of Thoreau specialists knew of the existence of 'The Dispersion of Seeds', an ecological treatise written during the last years of Thoreau's life, which has been reconstructed and edited, and was published for the first time in 1993. Thoreau's Late Career and the Dispersion of Seeds, the first full-length study of this important late work by Thoreau, analyzes literary features of 'The Dispersion of Seeds' that make it an accomplished work of the imagination, and applies interdisciplinary scholarship in order to relate Thoreau's prescient ecology to scientific issues of his day and ours. Thus it demonstrates that in his late career Thoreau was working as scientist and poet simultaneously. Berger further explores how Thoreau managed the philosophical and rhetorical tensions involved in bridging the supposed gap between science and poetry, and how, in his later career, he embraced the empirical method of scientific discovery while challenging the reductive assumptions of scientific materialism. In these specific ways Berger's study advances new understandings of Thoreau's purposes and accomplishments during his post-Walden career.

Michael Berger, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English and Communications at The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Cincinnati. He is on the Board of Directors of The Thoreau Society.


June 2000
1 black and white, 2 line illustrations
170 pages
9x6 in
Studies in English and American Literature and Culture
ISBN: 9781571131683
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004020, BIO007000, NAT010000
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Table of Contents

From Walden Pond to Main Street
The Saunterer's Vision: Thoreau's Epiphany of Forest Dynamics in The Dispersion of Seeds
Seed Dispersal Ecology: Thoreau's Science in The Dispersion of Seeds
The Sign of the Scarlet Oak Leaf: Thoreau's Epistemological Meditations in the Late Writings
Works Cited


His is the first full-length study of (Thoreau's) little known work, The Dispersion of Seeds. INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES IN LITERATURE AND ENVIRONMENT

Berger has helped further our understanding of the ways in which Thoreau's turn to science gave him a renewed literary vitality. Moreover, he makes an especially important contribution in the precision with which he connects Thoreau's protoecological concepts to the science of ecology as it developed in the 140 years after Thoreau's death. ISIS

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