The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau

The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau: Volume 1: 1834 - 1848

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau
    Book Description:

    This is the inaugural volume in the first full-scale scholarly edition of Thoreau's correspondence in more than half a century. When completed, the edition's three volumes will include every extant letter written or received by Thoreau--in all, almost 650 letters, roughly 150 more than in any previous edition, including dozens that have never before been published.

    Correspondence 1contains 163 letters, ninety-six written by Thoreau and sixty-seven to him. Twenty-five are collected here for the first time; of those, fourteen have never before been published. These letters provide an intimate view of Thoreau's path from college student to published author. At the beginning of the volume, Thoreau is a Harvard sophomore; by the end, some of his essays and poems have appeared in periodicals and he is at work onA Week on the Concord and Merrimack RiversandWalden. The early part of the volume documents Thoreau's friendships with college classmates and his search for work after graduation, while letters to his brother and sisters reveal warm, playful relationships among the siblings. In May 1843, Thoreau moves to Staten Island for eight months to tutor a nephew of Emerson's. This move results in the richest period of letters in the volume: thirty-two by Thoreau and nineteen to him. From 1846 through 1848, letters about publishing and lecturing provide details about Thoreau's first years as a professional author. As the volume closes, the most ruminative and philosophical of Thoreau's epistolary relationships begins, that with Harrison Gray Otis Blake. Thoreau's longer letters to Blake amount to informal lectures, and in fact Blake invited a small group of friends to readings when these arrived.

    Following every letter, annotations identify correspondents, individuals mentioned, and books quoted, cited, or alluded to, and describe events to which the letters refer. A historical introduction characterizes the letters and connects them with the events of Thoreau's life, a textual introduction lays out the editorial principles and procedures followed, and a general introduction discusses the significance of letter-writing in the mid-nineteenth century and the history of the publication of Thoreau's letters. Finally, a thorough index provides comprehensive access to the letters and annotations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5104-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. The Correspondence 1834-1848
    (pp. 1-392)
    • Notes on Illustrations
      (pp. 395-397)
    • Acknowledgments
      (pp. 398-400)
    • Editorial Contributions
      (pp. 401-401)
    • General Introduction
      (pp. 402-437)

      Thoreau’s activity as a letter-writer spans almost three decades, from an 1834 request to have his Harvard dormitory room “painted and whitewashed” to an April 2, 1862, letter to his publisher, Ticknor and Fields, dictated to his sister Sophia and sent with the manuscript of “Wild Apples.” The first letters that he received, in 1836 and 1837, came from Harvard classmates; the last came from Ticknor and Fields, and from readers and friends who knew he was dying. Almost six hundred and fifty letters survive from the intervening twenty-eight years; letters by Thoreau outnumber those to him by a small...

    • Historical Introduction
      (pp. 438-459)

      The first volume ofThe Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreaucomprises 163 letters and takes Thoreau from 1834, during his first year at Harvard, through December 1848, when he was on the threshold of publishing his first book. Thoreau graduated from Harvard in 1837; during the period covered by this volume he pursued a career as a writer while supporting himself in various ways. In 1847 he responded to a questionnaire from the class secretary with this wry catalog of the jobs he had held: “I am a Schoolmaster–a Private Tutor, a Surveyor–a Gardener, a Farmer–a Painter,...

    • Textual Introduction
      (pp. 460-475)

      Correspondence 1contains 163 letters written from 1834 through 1848. Thoreau wrote ninety-six of them to thirty-four recipients; sixty-seven were sent to him by twenty-six correspondents. None of these letters was originally written for publication.¹ They are conservatively emended and are printed in a modified form of clear text.²

      Of the 163 letters in this volume, 139 are based on surviving manuscript or printed recipients’ copies³ or on facsimiles of manuscript recipients’ copies.⁴ In addition, two letters are based on drafts,⁵ two are based on composites two are based on composites of surviving manuscript portions and published sources,⁶ sixteen are...

    • Library Symbols
      (pp. 476-478)
    • Short Titles
      (pp. 479-484)
    • Bibliography
      (pp. 485-494)
    • Index
      (pp. 495-520)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)