- Paperback: 212 pages
- Publisher: Univ Pr of Florida (Oct. 15 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0813041473
- ISBN-13: 978-0813041476
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.5 x 22.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,223,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Thoreau the Land Surveyor Paperback – Oct 10 2010
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About the Author
Patrick Chura is associate professor of English at the University of Akron and author of Vital Contact: Downclassing Journeys in American Literature from Herman Melville to Richard Wright.
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Professor Chura (University of Akron) is an English teacher who happens to have a surveying background. Thus like Thoreau, he can address both the literary and the scientific sides of the subject. His interpretations are indeed eye-opening, as we see Henry's once-familiar life newly revealed through the lens of his tramps across the countryside, making calculations and marking property lines for insistent owners. We can now understand the surveying influence in passages in the books "Walden" and "Cape Cod," and in the essays "Life Without Principle" and "Walking." After being reminded that abolitionist John Brown was also a surveyor -- who used that ability to his own special advantage out in Kansas -- we can more fully understand Thoreau's admiration and connection to the man. We can also see how Thoreau was led to study tree succession and the dispersion of seeds. And we come to realize that while he initially attempted to compartmentalize his writing and surveying interests, he was able to successfully merge them into a unified approach later in life. These are pieces of information and modes of interpretation that are not covered by any previous biography.
Chura has offered us not only a bright new perspective on Mr. Thoreau, he has also served to correct historical record for future researchers. He used his knowledge to question and then confirm the misidentification of equipment presumed to belong to Thoreau, currently housed within the collections of the Concord Museum. That which was long thought to be a part of Thoreau's accoutrements is now known not to be, with valid reasoning and documentation. Kudos to Chura!
Back in 1857, Henry remarked, "I have a surveyor's eyes." Thanks to Prof. Chura, we can now scrutinize Thoreau's life and work in a similar fashion. "Thoreau the Land Surveyor" is essential reading for any fan, follower, or scholar of Thoreau. It is also an important addition to any collection focusing on Transcendentalism, on Massachusetts history, on 19th-century life / literature, or on civil engineering. Besides: it's also a darn good and fascinating read.