Sunday, July 15, 2012

Henry David Thoreau

Comments on and by Thoreau

 Henry David Thoreau, was born on July 12, 1817; Thoreau went to New York to collect the remains of the Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller, great-aunt to Buckminster, when she drowned off Fire Island .  The following comment is E. B. White's view of Walden:

If Thoreau has merely left us an account of a man's life in the woods, or if he had simply retreated to the woods and there recorded his complaints about society, or even if he had contrived to include both records in one essay, "Walden" would probably not have lived a hundred years.  As things turned out, Thoreau, very likely without knowing quite what he was up to, took man's relation to nature and man's dilemma in society and man's capacity for elevating his spirit and he beat these matters together, in wild free intervals of self-justification and delight, and produced an original omelet from which people can draw nourishment in a hungry day.  "Walden" is one of the first of the vitamin-enriched American dishes.  If it were a little less good than it is, or even a little less queer, it would be an abominable book. (E. B. White, "Walden--1954")

And, Thoreau himself on nature and his own self:

He is richest who has most use for nature as raw material of tropes and symbols with which to describe his life.  If these gates of golden willows affect me, the correspond to the beauty and promise of some experiences on which I am entering.  If I am overflowing with life, and rich in experience for which I lack the expression, then nature will be my language full of poetry,--all nature will fable [sic], and every natural phenomenon be a myth.  The man of science, who is not seeking for expression but for a fact to be expressed merely, studies nature as a dead language.  I pray for such inward experience as will make nature significant. (Thoreau, Journals, May 10, 1853) (I to Myself, p 186)

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