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Nancy Dasher Award - 2012
Explains how Thoreau's profession as a surveyor initally seemed to hamper but in the end inspired his spiritual and philosophical expression. Combines a spry writing style with meticulous research in this delightful book, which introduces readers to another side of Thoreau's life and thought.
Thoreau's eventual embrace of his status as a surveyor might not have been without struggle, but Chura ultimately sees surveying as central to Thoreau's art and vision. He sheds light on the technical question of how Thoreau measured woodlots and perambulated town borders for hire and mapped the shores and recorded the water levels of Walden Pond and the Concord River for pleasure. Ultimately, Patrick Chura argues that readers who want to understand the workings of Henry David Thoreau's mind need to consider all his intellectual pursuits, not just his literary ones.
--New England Quarterly
In this study, Chura combines background on the tools and methods of 19th-century surveying and Thoreau's day-to-day activities as a surveyor with a contextualized study of Thoreau's journals, letters, field notes, and published works for what they reveal about his use of land surveying as both a method of environmental inquiry and a primary source of income near the end of his life.
--Book News, Inc.
A provocative and productive enactment of Thoreau's own concluding sentiment in 'Life without Principle' that our lives are not as much a forgetting as a remembering...a refreshing reminder that theory and practice depend upon one another.
--Journal of the Early Republic
Well illustrated, this is an unusual, but interesting and stimulating book.
Patrick Chura’s Thoreau the Land Surveyor brings a new dimension of Thoreau’s life and writings into focus…Chura reconstructs Thoreau’s career with practical and historical as well as literary sensitivity.
--American Literary Scholarship
By synthesizing literary scholarship with his reconstruction of Thoreau’s work, Chura compellingly illuminates the various intersections between Thoreau’s practices as author and as surveyor, thereby demonstrating in fascinating ways how some of Thoreau’s most famous writings reflected his experience as a surveyor.
A unique book that treats Henry David Thoreau, often called America’s first environmentalist, as a man strongly influenced in his philosophy by his land surveying practice in Concord, Massachusetts. . . . Required reading for every practicing surveyor.