NOV 2015 - PADDLING
Book Tells the Definitive Story of the Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond
Adirondack Sports & Fitness Online Posts “The Kayaker’s Annotated Guide to the Philosophers’ Camp”
October 26, 2015 – Schenectady, N.Y. – After more than 150 years, the complete story of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first encounter with raw nature in the Adirondack wilderness has finally been told through Cornell University Press’ release of A Not Too Greatly Changed Eden: The Story of the Philosophers’ Camp in the Adirondacks, by the award-winning journalist James Schlett. The book tells the definitive story of the historic Philosophers’ Camp, an August 1858 gathering at Follensby Pond of 19th century America’s leading intellectuals, including Emerson, the Harvard scientist Louis Agassiz, and the Cambridge poet James Russell Lowell. They were led into the Adirondack wilderness by William James Stillman, a painter originally from Schenectady who co-founded the nation’s first art journal, the Crayon. In following the political, cultural, economic, and scientific trends that brought them together in Boston and to the Adirondacks, A Not Too Greatly Changed Eden does more than show an age in a moment; it provides vistas of a young nation’s changing landscapes as it came of age in the latter half of the 19th century.
While the story of the Philosophers’ Camp has been told in brief in countless history books, A Not Too Greatly Changed Eden provides the most detailed account of Emerson’s Adirondack adventures. To mark the release of the book’s second printing this fall, Adirondack Sports & Fitness is featuring on its Web site “The Kayaker’s Annotated Guide to the Philosophers’ Camp,” which maps out the various places Emerson and his friends boated, such as the Saranac Lakes, Stony Creek Ponds, Raquette River, Follensby Pond, and Big Tupper Lake. The guide also pairs these destinations with passages from essential writings about the Philosophers’ Camp by Emerson, Stillman and the Concord lawyer Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar.
Since its release on June 30, A Not Too Greatly Changed Eden has attracted national attention, being featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and in Adirondack Life. The book has received positive reviews from prominent Adirondack and transcendentalism scholars, such as Philip Terrie, Paul Schneider and Philip Gura. “Schlett takes a fascinating and iconic event in New York State and American cultural history and explodes it into myriad details that not only enlighten us about what happened with the motley crew of artists, philosophers, and thinkers who visited the Adirondacks in 1858 but also holds to a compelling narrative,” said Gura.
Schlett’s upcoming book tour events include a presentation for SUNY Adirondack’s Writers Project series on Nov. 18 at 12:40 p.m. at the Dearlove Visual Arts Gallery in Queensbury; a reading for the Schenectady Community of Writers on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Schenectady County Public Library in Schenectady; and a presentation at the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson on Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.
- “All Things Considered” on NPR: “Retracing Ralph Waldo Emerson's Steps In A Now 'Unchanged Eden',” July 24, 2015
- Review by Philip Terrie in The Adirondack Explorer: “Philosophers at Follensby,” July/August
- Review by Richard Frost in The Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “A Deep Dive into the Philosophers' Camp,” June 17, 2015