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Making Walden and Its Sandbank

Making Walden and Its Sandbank: An expanded  digital version featuring manuscript pages from the Journal”

by William Rossi

Close and contextual analysis of Thoreau’s early expansion of Walden’s famous sandbank passage provides considerable insight into his shift toward greater literary and scientific naturalism. Together with its subsequent revisions, this passage, drafted in the spring 1848 Journal six or seven months after he left the Pond, already comprises the core of the narrative’s universally celebrated climactic epiphany. Although scholars have long known of its existence, when its revisions are dated and examined in the contexts of the Walden manuscript’s development, Thoreau’s practice of using the Journal to compose Walden material, the contemporary evolution debate, and his engagement in what historians call “public science,” this remarkable event can be seen both to illuminate and to complicate Thoreau’s career-defining “turn to science” in the early 1850s.


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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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