Biographical Information Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts to a close-knit family.
His writings have been reprinted countless times, both in English and in translation into many foreign languages. His Walden is required reading in American literature courses at the college level. The author himself has been idolized, and his image and quotations from his writings have been employed for a variety of purposes, including commercial use.
In sharp contrast to his current popularity, during his lifetime there was only limited appreciation of Thoreau as a man and as a writer.
The way Thoreau was perceived by his contemporaries no doubt affected the reception of his work. Thoreau the man was easy to misunderstand. Even those who cared about him were conflicted in their feelings.
He was not interested in making a good impression on others and did not care to correct false impressions. He had no desire to meet external expectations if they varied from his own sense of how to live his life.
Emerson, in his eulogy of Thoreau printed in the August issue of Atlantic Monthlywrote: Had his genius been only contemplative, he had been fitted to his life, but with his energy and practical ability he seemed born for great enterprise and for command; and I so much regret the loss of his rare powers of action, that I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition.
Wanting this, instead of engineering for all America, he was the captain of a huckleberry-party. At the end of Walden he wrote, "Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? Not only did he dismiss their values, but he wrote about it, too. Moreover, Thoreau made no attempt to conciliate those who felt threatened by his disregard of community concerns.
And yet, Thoreau was pragmatic as well as idealistic.
His useful skills appealed to practical men. Emerson commented in his eulogy: He grew to be revered and admired by his townsmen, who had at first known him only as an oddity.
The farmers who employed him as a surveyor soon discovered his rare accuracy and skill, his knowledge of their lands, of trees, of birds, of Indian remains. Thoreau had better rights in his land than he. They felt, too, the superiority of character which addressed all men with a native authority.
And although he shunned superficial social connections he referred to a party that he had attended as "a bad place to go"he relished sympathetic companionship.
He wrote in his journal entry for November 14,for example: Joseph Hosmer and I ate our luncheon of cracker and cheese together in the woods. I heard all he said, though it was not much, to be sure, and he could hear me.
And then he talked out of such a glorious repose, taking a leisurely bite at the cracker and cheese between his words; and so some of him was communicated to me, and some of me to him Thoreau clearly shared the common human craving for understanding. Emerson wrote in his eulogy that "no equal companion stood in affectionate relations with one so pure and guileless," and went so far as to comment, "I think the severity of his ideal interfered to deprive him of a healthy sufficiency of human society.
The fact that he never married although he proposed once likely indicates some level of understanding that his idealism worked against long-term intimacy. There was somewhat military in his nature not to be subdued [the words "stubborn and implacable" are found in the journal entry]; always manly and able, but rarely tender, as if he did not feel himself except in opposition.
He wanted a fallacy to expose, a blunder to pillory. It cost him nothing to say No; indeed, he found it much easier than to say Yes. It seemed as if his first instinct on hearing a proposition was to controvert it, so impatient was he of the limitations of our daily thought.Henry David Thoreau, the son of a Concord pencil-maker, graduated from Harvard in He worked a short while as a schoolmaster, but then began writing poetry.
He soon joined a religious, philosophical, and literary movement called Transcendentalism. Henry David Thoreau was an exacting practitioner of the art of writing. Although he exulted in the intuitive, creative genius that he felt within himself, throughout his life he was a disciplined craftsman who worked hard to revise and refine his material.
From Walden, Henry Thoreau, transcendalism terms Walden and Civil Disobedience, Transcendental / from Walden, or Life in the Woods, walden and civil disobedience, From Walden, Henry Thoreau, Thoreau and Walden #1 - 4, Thoreau - Walden . How Henry David Thoreaus Influence Is Evident Today Philosophy Essay.
Henry David Thoreau preached the prospects of being non-violent and described the effects wars have had on . How Henry David Thoreaus Influence Is Evident Today Philosophy Essay Henry David Thoreau preached the prospects of being non-violent and described the effects wars have had on humans as a whole.
To give some background. With these words, Henry David Thoreau began the tale of his experiment of simple living at Walden Pond.
Over the course of the next three hundred-odd pages, Thoreau outlined his philosophy of life, politics, and nature, laying the foundation for a secure place in the canon of great American writers.