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Solid Seasons

The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson

List Price: $26.00

ON SALE: April 9, 2019 | Hardcover | 5.0 x 9.0, 368 pages | ISBN 9781640091313
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A thoughtfully researched, movingly presented dual-biography of two iconic American writers, each trying to find the ideal friend with whom they could share their journey through our imperfect world.

Any biography that concentrates on either Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson tends to diminish the other figure, but in Solid Seasons both men remain central and equal. Through several decades of writing, friendship remained a primary theme for them both.

Collecting extracts from the letters and journals of both men, as well as words written about them by their contemporaries, Jeffrey S. Cramer beautifully illustrates the full nature of their twenty-five-year dialogue. Biographers like to point at the crisis in their friendship, focusing particularly on Thoreau’s disappointment in Emerson—rarely on Emerson’s own disappointment in Thoreau—and leaving it there, a friendship ruptured. But the solid seasons remained, as is evident when, in 1878, Anne Burrows Gilchrist, the English writer and friend of Whitman, visited Emerson. She wrote that his memory was failing “as to recent names and topics but as is usual in such cases all the mental impressions that were made when he was in full vigour remain clear and strong.” As they chatted, Emerson called to his wife, Lidian, in the next room, “What was the name of my best friend?”

“Henry Thoreau,” she answered.
“Oh, yes,” Emerson repeated. “Henry Thoreau.”

About Jeffrey S. Cramer

JEFFREY S. CRAMER is the editor of Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition, winner of a 2004 National Outdoor Book Award, and The Quotable Thoreau, recipient of an Umhoefer Prize for Achievement in Humanities. In 2017, Cramer was the historical consultant for the Ken Burns–produced documentary Walden, created for the Walden Pond State Reservation during the Thoreau Bicentennial. Cramer is the curator of collections at the Walden Woods Project’s Thoreau Institute Library. He lives in Maynard, Massachusetts.

Praise

Praise for Solid Seasons

“Cramer’s lucid, spare writing and deep knowledge join one quotation to the next without seeming effort. The book’s two primary characters become familiars, each one easily approached, often via the observation of the other. Cramer has a knack for choosing and integrating his subjects’ words, and from that you get sentences and stories that are easy walking. That sums to a wonderful read, both for the general reader interested in Emerson and Thoreau, and for those who feel themselves academic family to these two famous 19th-century thinkers and writers.” —Sandy Stott, The Roost

“The abiding strength of the tie between the two writers emerges as an animating presence in both men’s journals and correspondence, which Cramer mines for quotations that allow each writer to give his own unmediated account of their friendship . . . An illuminating history of an exceptional friendship.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Cramer (The Quotable Thoreau) intelligently examines the bond between two famous authors in an admirable volume that mixes biography with selections of their writing . . . The words offer inquisitive readers encouragement to refresh their acquaintance with Emerson and Thoreau through this ‘new view of an old story.'” —Publishers Weekly

“Editor of many works by Emerson and Thoreau and curator of collections at the Walden Woods Project’s Thoreau Institute, Cramer brings both authority and sensitivity to his biographical overview and to a judicious selection of excerpts from the men’s prolific writings . . . A deeply sympathetic dual biography.” —Kirkus Reviews

Praise for I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

“The Journal, even more than Walden or the essays ‘Civil Disobedience’ and ‘A Life Without Principle,’ has come to look like [Thoreau’s] most significant contribution to American literature. Thanks to the judicious editing of Jeffrey S. Cramer, who has whittled down the 39 manuscript volumes to 500 pages, we now have the first broadly representative selection from the Journal to appear in 40 years.” —The Guardian

Praise for Essays by Henry D. Thoreau: A Fully Annotated Edition

“The cross-references that Cramer includes among his annotations are particularly valuable… For anyone who wants to trace Thoreau’s references to phenomena or the evolution of his ideas, these sorts of annotations are not only invaluable but relatively difficult to find in Thoreau studies. All readers of Thoreau are thus well served by Cramer.” —Review 19

Praise for Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition

“A handsome, ‘all-things-Walden‘ edition” —Boston Globe

“Cramer’s side notes are like short, illuminating conversations.” —USA Today

“Cramer’s notes are immensely useful. His edition of Walden will be a boon to ordinary readers and scholars alike.”—Denis Donoghue, author of Speaking of Beauty

“Thoreau’s masterpiece—here freshly refurbished by Jeffrey S. Cramer—speaks to our material and spiritual condition as powerfully as on the day it first appeared. Now, more than ever, Walden is our indispensable American book.”—Alan D. Hodder, Professor of Comparative Religion, Hampshire College

“Jeffrey Cramer’s Walden is the most accurate and readable text of Thoreau’s masterpiece. Cramer’s version now replaces all other available editions of Walden as the most attractive and reliable way to approach this great American book.”—Joel Porte, author of Consciousness and Culture: Emerson and Thoreau Reviewed

Praise for Robert Frost Among His Poems

“Indispensable for Frost studies.” —Choice

“In the past seven years—indeed in this decade—we have seen the appearance of major critical studies on Frost… ground-breaking studies by… Jeffrey Cramer.” —Earl J. Wilcox, The Robert Frost Review

“Cramer’s hugely helpful book meticulously describes the literary and biographical context in which individual poems were written.” —Diane Rehm Blog

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