About the book

Thoreau and the Language of Trees

By Richard Higgins
Foreword by Robert D. Richardson, p
hotographs by Richard Higgins

University of California Press, 2017, 248 pp. $24.95

TREES WERE CENTRAL to Henry David Thoreau’s creativity as a writer, his work as a naturalist, his thought, and even his inner life. He admired their beauty, studied their growth and development, took them as spiritual companions and wrote about them as few have. When he wrote that the poet loves the pine tree as his own shadow in the air, he was speaking about himself. In short, he spoke their language.

 

In this original book, Richard Higgins explores Thoreau’s deep connections to trees: his keen perception of them, the joy they gave him, the poetry he saw in them, his philoso-phical view of them, and how they fed his soul. His ten lively essays show that trees were a thread connecting all parts of Thoreau’s being—heart, mind, and spirit. Each  essay is followed by excerpts from Thoreau’s writings about trees, accompanied by seventy black-and-white photographs of them by the author.

 

In 1890, an English naturalist observed that Thoreau  was unusually able as a writer “to preserve the flashing forest colors in unfading light.” His prose is no less vivid today. Thoreau and the Language of Trees also shows that Thoreau, with uncanny foresight, believed trees were essential to the preservation of the world.

 

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