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Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion Of Seeds And Other Late Natural History Writings [Paperback]

By Henry David Thoreau (Author), David Henry (Author) & Bradley P. Dean (Editor)
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Item description for Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion Of Seeds And Other Late Natural History Writings by Henry David Thoreau, David Henry & Bradley P. Dean...

This major literary event contains a hitherto unpublished work--The Dispersion of Seeds--one of Thoreau's last important research and writing projects, and places him among the first American scientists to understand the significance of Darwin's theory of Natural Selection.

Publishers Description
Faith in a Seed contains the hitherto unpublished work The Dispersion of Seeds, one of Henry D. Thoreau's last important research and writing projects, and now his first new book to appear in 125 years.With the remarkable clarity and grace that characterize all of his writings, Thoreau describes the ecological succession of plant species through seed dispersal. "The Dispersion of Seeds," which draws on Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, refutes the then widely accepted theory that some plants spring spontaneously to life, independent of roots, cuttings, or seeds. As Thoreau wrote: "Though I do not believe a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." Henry D. Thoreau's "Faith in a Seed," was first published in hardcover in 1993 by Island Press under the Shearwater Books imprint, which unifies scientific views of nature with humanistic ones. This important work, the first publication of Thoreau's last manuscript, is now available in paperback. "Faith in a Seed" contains Thoreau's last important research and writing project, "The Dispersion of Seeds," along with other natural history writings from late in his life. Edited by Bradley P. Dean, professor of English at East Carolina University and editor of the Thoreau Society Bulletin, these writings demonstrate how a major American author at the height of his career succeeded in making science and literature mutually enriching.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion Of Seeds And Other Late Natural History Writings by Henry David Thoreau, David Henry & Bradley P. Dean has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 03/25/1996

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Island Press
Pages   301
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 7" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1996
Publisher   Island Press
ISBN  1559631821  
ISBN13  9781559631822  

Availability  0 units.

More About Henry David Thoreau, David Henry & Bradley P. Dean

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. His father worked successively as a farmer, a grocer, and a manufacturer of pencils, and the family was frequently in difficult financial straits. After studying locally, Thoreau won admission to Harvard. When Ralph Waldo Emerson moved to Concord in 1835, Thoreau formed a close relationship with him (although the friendship would later give way to mutual criticism) and with others associated with the Transcendentalist group, including Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, Bronson Alcott, Jones Very, and Theodore Parker. He worked in his father's pencil business while keeping the journals that would become his life's work, running to millions of words.

Thoreau took over the Concord Academy for several years, where he taught foreign languages and science, before closing the school in 1841. By now he was regularly publishing poems and essays in The Dial. For a time he worked in Emerson's household as a handyman, and in 1845 he built a cabin on some property of Emerson's at Walden Pond, staying for a little over two years: 'My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some private business with the fewest obstacles.' (During this time he maintained an active social life in Concord.) He spent a night in jail in 1846 as a protest against slavery, and later explained his motives in the essay 'Civil Disobedience' (1849). His first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), most of which had been written at Walden Pond, was based on a boat trip he took some years earlier with his brother. The book made little impact and sold only a few hundred copies.

Thoreau--who at this time was supporting himself as a surveyor--became increasingly involved in the Abolitionist movement and began to work for the Underground Railroad, sheltering escaped slaves en route to Canada.

Walden, on which he had been working ever since his residence at the pond, went through multiple revisions before he considered it ready for publication. This was intended as the fullest expression of his philosophy: 'Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice.' It was published in 1854 and proved unexpectedly successful.

Thoreau met John Brown in 1857, and following Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry delivered 'A Plea for Captain John Brown' in his defense: 'I know that the mass of my countrymen think that the only righteous use that can be made of Sharpe's rifles and revolvers is to fight duels with them, when we are insulted by other nations, or to hunt Indians, or shoot fugitive slaves with them, or the like. I think that for once the Sharpe's rifles and the revolvers were employed in a righteous cause.' For many years Thoreau had been at work on a projected study of American Indians, compiling thousands of pages of notes and extracts, and in 1861 he traveled to Minnesota, where he visited the Lower Sioux Agency at Redwood. By this time, however, he had contracted tuberculosis and it became clear that he would not live long; he died on May 6, 1862. His later travel writings, The Maine Woods (1864) and Cape Cod (1865), were published posthumously.

Henry David Thoreau lived in the state of Massachusetts. Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 and died in 1862.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Conservation > General
2Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Environment > Conservation
3Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Essays
4Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Reference
5Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Plants > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion Of Seeds And Other Late Natural History Writings?

Remarkable Volume  Jul 26, 2007
This book contains the manuscript of one of Thoreau's last works, The Dispersion of Seeds. Through his daily walks in the woods, Thoreau became fascinated with the question of how the plants he was seeing became established. A puzzling riddle of the time that local townsmen constantly asked was why when they cut pine forests, oak forests seemed to grow up, and when they cut oak forests, pine forests would take their place. Thoreau was uniquely able to answer such questions, since he had spent years wandering through the forests, taking notes on everything he saw. In this volume, he not only provides answers to the pine-oak riddle, but he also lays to rest the idea of spontaneous generation of plants, which was still accepted in many circles at the time he wrote this book.

This book represents perhaps some of Thoreau's greatest works in ecology. In it, he lays out his own theory of forest succession based on ecological observation and experimentation. He was one of the first to understand forest succession on the American continent, working almost entirely alone, with little previous research in the literature to draw on. Not only is the book a magnificent ecological study, but the text itself is sheer pleasure to read, being a prime example of Thoreau's well-crafted prose.
A wonderful addition to any Thoreauvian's library  Sep 14, 1998
Faith in a Seed, a collection of Henry David Thoreau's late nature writings, deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the plant sciences or Thoreau's life and work. This volume consists of four previously-unpublished manuscripts, which the author left uncompleted when he died in 1862. Although compiled of rough drafts, Faith in a Seed is still very readable and enjoyable. Thoreau's last major project, The Dispersion of Seeds, fills most of this book. In it, he describes the seeds of various New England plants, as well as how they are disseminated by way of animals and the elements. The philosopher of Walden Pond roams the woods, fields, and swamps of "a world that is already planted, but is also still being planted as at first." Although this is a scientific work, Thoreau's wonderful voice and way with metaphor permeates every page, making for a very pleasurable read. Of historical interest, Thoreau was one of the first American scientists to embrace Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The idea of an ever-changing earth coincided with Thoreau's own beliefs. He felt that "the development theory implies a greater vital force in Nature, because it is more flexible and accommodating, and equivalent to a sort of constant new creation." In addition to the cornerstone of this book, The Dispersion of Seeds, three shorter selections are included. In Wild Fruits, Thoreau writes about the joys of hunting for wild berries, and teaches that "the value of any experience is measured, not by the amount of money, but the amount of development we get out of it." Weeds and Grasses and Forest Trees elaborate on the ideas of plant propagation and forest succession illustrated in The Dispersion of Seeds. On the whole, I found this book to be a welcome addition to my Thoreau collection. Even in his late years, as he became more and more interested in the technicalities of nature, he still dearly loved the wild; and this comes through in Faith in a Seed. Come, saunter with Henry through dark pitch-pine groves, the huckleberry fields of Fair Haven Hill, and the seedling-lined banks of the Concord River. Discover that "the very earth itself is a granary and a seminary."

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