JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Winter 2014) investigation into Thoreau's shift toward science remains valuable, particularly as his interest in geology has been underappreciated by critics. Walden's Shore should thus aid readers in forming not a single ``scientific'' perspective on Thoreau's magnum opus but rather a regard for the author's dual roles of mystical guru and sensible scientist. Recognition of this duality allows us to understand his expressions simultaneously as factual observations and metaphors, a property of the witty style that has drawn so many readers to Thoreau's work for so long. The final pages of Walden's Shore introduce the term ``descendentalism'' (322), which Thorson coins to describe Thoreau's departure from transcendentalism. The emphasis on descent gestures to Thoreau's desire literally to get down to the facts--to discover the bedrock of his country. Framed a little differently, the term descendentalism could describe that scientific aspect of Thoreau's writing that was not so much a rejection of his early, lofty philosophical interests as it was a necessary corollary to his spiritual wanderings and wonderings. Thoreau seems to have discovered, apart from his transcendentalist neighbors, that natural knowledge was the foundation that would provide the greatest intellectual revelations. Walden's Shore
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 24, 2014
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