Finally, in a more practical vein, nature as wilderness provides an extreme against which one may measure one’s own aliveness. Thoreau sees his time at Walden as a “border” life between the numbing overcivilization of the town and an untempered and unthoughtful existence in the wilderness. The border life, he suggests, is fruitful precisely because it allows one to grow, to participate in the recivilizing of one’s own life. As in his earlier essays, he focuses on championing human agency and creativity. This theme of the wilderness becomes even more explicit in later essays.
After completing Walden, Thoreau seemed to me neither fish nor fowl; he neither rejected civilization nor fully embraced the wild. Instead he strove for a middle ground, a kind of impracticable pastoral territory, in which both nature and culture are integrated. Nevertheless, Thoreau was a lifelong abolitionist and his philosophy of civil disobedience went on to influence the political thoughts and actions of such figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King stated the following of Resistance to civil government: "Fascinated by the idea of refusing to co-operate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times. This was my first intellectual contact with the theory of non-violent resistance." This alone entices me to discover his poetry and his essay on Civil Disobedience sometime in the not too distant future.
DJ Lee Mr. Dixon Block E 25 January 2011 Walden Essay A transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau put himself into the wild nature and poverty. Throughout his alienated life, Thoreau conceived transcendental lessons that valued individuality more than society and poverty more than materialism. One of his works, Walden, includes his best exemplifying teachings. In Walden, Thoreau lectures about the true essence of life: living with self-reliance and simplicity. Although his key ideas can be crucially helpful in some parts of our lives, I judge that Thoreau takes this concept to such
Comment [s1]: Italicize
While I had read much of Thoreau's work already before I discovered the Library of America collections, I am extremely pleased to see the majority of his body of work reunited in two volumes in this dignified series. For one thing, while there are innumerable compilations containing "Walden" and some of his other better-known works, it is still difficult to get a hold of Thoreau's lesser known essays and poems. Moreover, though, and more importantly, reading his works in the context provided by this collection makes for much greater insight into the man's personality, and his philosophy as a whole. While a biography certainly adds perspective, nothing surpasses the experience of reading Thoreau's works in context - and in the context of the works of other Transcendentalists, first and foremost Emerson. This is a true literary treasure: to behold, cherish and read again and again.
SparkNotes: Walden: Study Questions & Essay Topics
This collection, one of two Library of America volumes dedicated to Thoreau's works and edited by renowned Thoreau scholar Elizabeth Hall Witherell, presents the majority of his essays and poems, from well-known works such as "Civil Disobedience," "Life Without Principle" and "Walking" to a large body of lesser known (but just as quotable!) writings and loving observations of nature ("Autumnal Tints," "Wild Apples," "Huckleberries"). A companion volume, edited by Robert F. Sayre, contains Thoreau's four longest publications ("A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers," "The Maine Woods," "Cape Cod" and, of course, "Walden") - thus omitting from the Library of America series only his extensive journals and the posthumously published "Faith in a Seed," a collection of four manuscripts left partially unfinished at Thoreau's death in 1862 and published for the first time in the late 1990s, to much fanfare among Thoreauvians the world over.
Major essays by Henry David Thoreau
Spanning his entire career, the 27 essays gathered here vary in style from the ambling rhythm of "Natural History of Massachusetts" and "A Winter Walk"to the concentrated moral outrage of "Slavery in Massachusetts" and "A Plea for Captain John Brown." Included are "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau's great exploration of the conflict between individual conscience and state power that continues to influence political thinkers and activists; "Walking," a meditation on wildness and civilization; and "Life Without Principle,"a passionate critique of American materialism and conformity. Also here are literary essays, including pieces on Homer, Chaucer, and Carlyle; the travel essay "A Yankee in Canada"; the three speeches in defense of John Brown; and essays such as "Autumnal Tints," "Wild Fruits," and "Huckleberries" that explore natural phenomena around Concord.
....When beginning to read this anthology, I was already familiar with most of his essays but had had only limited exposure to his poems which comprise about a third of this volume's contents. Thoreau was a man of great intellectual courage while possessing at the same time an uncommon sensitivity to the natural world in which he seemed to be most comfortable. Within the context of American society during the mid-19th century, it is interesting to observe his development of concepts such as civil disobedience which later had such a profound influence on the thinking of public leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. I have always admired the rigor of Thoreau's intellect which is evident in abundance throughout his published works. While proceeding through this single volume in which most of his essays and his poems are arranged in sequence, I developed a much greater appreciation of (for lack of a better term) his "humanity." Those who desire a wider and deeper context for consideration of these works are urged to read Walter Harding's The Days of Henry Thoreau as well as Robert D. Richardson's two biographies, Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire.
Civil Disobedience (Thoreau) - Wikipedia
This essay was written in 1995 for an exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of Thoreau's move to Walden Pond and his writing of the American classic, ; it has been updated for inclusion here. All references are to , ed. J. Lyndon Shanley (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971).