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Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion of Seeds & Other Late Natural History Writings

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  91 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
This major literary event contains a hitherto unpublished work--The Dispersion of Seeds--one of Thoreau's last important research and writing projects, and places him among the first American scientists to understand the significance of Darwin's theory of Natural Selection.
paper, 301 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Island Press (first published 1993)
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Toby Brennen
Nov 26, 2012 Toby Brennen rated it it was ok
As the son of a forester, even though my own path went in a different direction, I developed an interest in 'the woods' and having enjoyed 'Walden' many, many years ago, I was looking forward to reading "Faith in a Seed." Wow! What mind-numbing rambling. I have decided that Thoreau had some variation of OCD. What he chose to observe, and the detailed recording of these observations, was fascinating only from the stand point that someone would spend so much time on so many details to reveal so li ...more
Oct 16, 2008 Claire rated it liked it
Still enjoying this one--Thoreau really knows how to make worms and cotyledons entertaining.
Feb 27, 2009 Keith rated it really liked it
good stuff. i got sidetracked halfway through, as happens sometimes, but it brought me back, which is a good sign. This is a collection of some later writings Thoreau did on natural history, particularly, as stated in the subtitle, on the dispersion of seeds - those of the trees around concord are the major focus of that manuscript, including the role of squirrels and birds, about which Thoreau writes very charmingly and admiringly. The poetry of the title of the collection belies the somewhat d ...more
Sep 08, 2014 Tucker rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
In these manuscripts, Thoreau is fascinated by his discovery that squirrels spread seeds that cause the forests to grow. That trees grow from seeds is indisputable: "No such forest has ever been known to spring from anything else. If anyone asserts that it sprang from something else, or from nothing, the burden of proof lies with him." That squirrels spread the seeds he believes to be a novel and controversial claim, which he proceeds to demonstrate through his observations.
Has occasional quotable quotes and memorable, unique ways of seeing and describing nature but also long tedious passages with too much detail. Will not be a classic like On Walden Pond.

It was surprising and reassuring, to see the many references and quotes from Darwin's Origin of Species which had only been published about a year before Faith in a Seed had been written.
Feb 13, 2012 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've opened this book in efforts to take a closer look into H.D.T. interest the life cycles of the natural invironment, the local natural resources - the woods that he admired. I am hoping to learn from his ability to observe, truely see and record truthfully.

Currently I am 85 pages in. Henry David Thoreau describes the local seeds of the Concord area. H.D. addresses the shape and functions of seeds and will track their dispersal and growth. He is amazing and truly sees all of the beauty of the
Feb 21, 2012 Phillip rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This book is different than Thoreau's other pieces. It is a Darwinian argument of the ways that plants disperse their seeds for their organism's to survive. It is not as poetic or philosophical as the things he published during his life time. I don't know if that is because he didn't have the opportunity to polish it more or if it is because it was intended to be a volume of a natural encyclopedia that he was writing. As I understand it this is the only volume that was completed. The rest was no ...more
Andrea  Greene Myers
Being a diehard fan of Thoreau, I loved it, but even for me it was tedious at times. This was written in Thoreau's later years when he pretty much turned to nature scientist, so unless you're really into Thoreau and/or nature study, you may want to avoid it. Thoreau's personal anecdotes and, as always, quotable words of wisdom, make it special and are probably its saving grace. It's very educational - you learn a lot about trees especially.
Aug 01, 2009 Kalani rated it liked it
I am giving this book 3 stars and setting it aside for now, having gotten almost 1/3 of the way through it. This is a great work of literature, as is all Thoreau that I have read, however it is heavy on the technical and there is too much going on in my life right now for me to focus enough in order to get the most out of this book. It has definitely earned a permanent place in my home library and I know I will return to it someday.
Aaron Armstrong
Oct 09, 2008 Aaron Armstrong rated it really liked it
So far it is a great Thoreau read. Seemingly with out point he babbles on about the trees of his region and their habits of reproduction. His attention to detail and dedication to his notes over a decade are remarkable and fun to read. Inspirational both in terms of his dedication and in regards to the steady pace of reproduction of life in general, not just human, or rather, especially not human.
Robert Isenberg
Apr 27, 2010 Robert Isenberg rated it it was ok
As much as I admire Thoreau, this is not what you'd call a readable book. It does prove that "creative nonfiction" is an old medium, but Thoreau wrote far more engaging prose. For historical reasons, biologists may relish Thoreau's early naturalism (it's astonishing how much he absorbed by walking in the woods and observing), but it's not exactly designed for my demographic.
Dec 14, 2012 Xaiver rated it it was amazing
Nov 04, 2009 Ambermahler is currently reading it
This is really more a meditation to read his accounts of watching squirrels gather pine cones and then gnaw them.
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Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau)was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, philosopher, and abolitionist who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

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“When you right or extricate a ducking businessman (take him out of chancery) and set him before the wind again, it is worth the while to look and see if he has any seed of success under him. Such a one you may know afar. He floats more slowly and steadily, carrying weight--and of his enterprise, expect results.” 3 likes
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