Jeffrey S. Cramer
The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson
This event includes a book signing
April 16, 2019
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome award-winning author and editor JEFFREY S. CRAMER—curator of collections at the Walden Woods Project’s Thoreau Institute Library—for a discussion of his latest book, Solid Seasons: The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
About Solid Seasons
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."
"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
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
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