Thoreau, Henry David. (1817 - 1862).
L i f e
- received uniersity education (Harvard) x but: most appreciated self-education
- acquainted with R. W. Emerson, shortly lived with his family as a handyman
- claimed he never needed to leave the little village of Concord (Massachusetts) x but: saw all worth seeing in the world
- claimed that on the miniature scale of the place where one happens to be one may read all worth knowing in life
- isolated himself from the outside world, spent 2 years as a hermit on the shores of Walden Pond
W o r k
- preoccupied with the life of the spirit
- also concerned with the political and social controversies of the time: the utopian plans for communal living, socialistic societies, the Fugitive Slave Act, John Brown (celebrated him), etc.
- developed public addresses against the materialist society x but: included also wit and nature lore
- retained his indifference to style: often crabbed and inartistic
- insisted on the strongest thought, sought to express himself unreservedly and spontaneously x but: brought his bookishness into his narrative (learned allusions)
- wrote especially journals and essays (“Resistance to Civil Government”)
- over his grave R. W. Emerson praised his exceptional character x but: lamented he had failed to be all he should have been
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849):
- an account of a canoe excursion with his brother
- nature observations, histories of the region, and observations on the clash of nature x human inhabitants
Walden: or, Life in the Woods (1854):
- set out for Walden Pond on the Independence Day = symbolical for his 1st major undertaking as a writer
- mingles common fact x personal experience, the world without x the world within
- resists on the development of the individual in the place where one happens to be, and on the avoidance of all influences except the common ones of nature
- his philosophy is often shrewd, strained, and arbitrary x but: the greatest value in his disclosure of the common facts of the world about one
> “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”, one of the opening explanatory chapters
The Maine Woods (1864), Cape Cod (1865), and A Yankee in Canada (1866):
- accounts of his next trips
(Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorHenry David Thoreau. (1817 - 1862). American.
WorkPhilosopher. Essayist. Author of Walden (1854).
GenresRomanticism. Transcendentalism. Essay. Autobiography. Travel writing.
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"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived".
From Walden (1854).