Henry David Thoreau : A Life
by Laura Dassow Walls
Editor: The University of Chicago Press
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WaldenYesterday, I came here to liveThis entry in Henry David Thoreau’s diary, and the intellectual journey he began, by themselves gave Thoreau enough place in the American pantheonHis attempt to “deliberately live” in a small wood on the edge of his hometown of Concord has been a touchstone for individualists and researchers since Walden’s publication in 1854.But there was much more Thoreau than his brief life experience at Walden PondA member of the intellectual circle dynamics centered on his neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was also an ardent naturalist, a manual worker and inventor, a radical, a political activist, and more stillMany books took up the different aspects of Thoreau’s character and achievements, but, as Laura Dassow Murs writes,’Thoreau was never captured between the door; he was too dreamy, mischievous, on many sides”Two hundred years after his birth, and two generations after the last full scale of the biography, the Walls restores Henry David Thoreau to us in all his deep, complex inspirationThe walls of the traces of Thoreau’s full arc of life, from his early days in the intellectual greenhouse of Concord, when the American experience still felt fresh and precarious, and “America was a family affair, won by one generation and about to move on to the next”At the time of his death in 1862, at only forty-four years of age, Thoreau had witnessed the transformation of his world from a community of peasants and artisans into a vibrant, interconnected commercial city of the nation.This bodes well for the individual and abundant contemplative, wild nature, that Thoreau celebratedDrawing on Thoreau’s copious written, published and unpublished Walls presents a Thoreau vigorously alive in all his whims and contradictions: the young man shattered by the sudden death of his brother; the ambitious Harvard College student project; the visionary ecstasy that shut Walden down with a count of the regenerative capacity of the universeWe mee
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