Henry David Thoreau 1817 1862
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Henry David Thoreau 1817---1862 Why is Thoreau different from others? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. --- Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau, The Great 1. Dismissed as an idler, and a drifter and a minor writer and a wasted Harvard graduate, and almost forgotten in his day, and yet in our day, he is one of few writers who deserve the appellation “ great”. 2. He put into practice of principles of plain living and high thinking. 3. His journal of nearly 7000 pages transcribed his daily thoughts, observations, readings and encounters with nature and men. 14 years younger than RWE Friendship bloomed in late 1830s, after T’s graduation from Harvard Throughout the 1840s, E encouraged T as a writer, particularly praising his poetry and getting him started on the topic of Nature Relationship with Emerson Shared political attitudes about slavery Friendship cooled some in the 1850s, with T resenting E’s patronage & E critical of what he saw as T’s lack of ambition RWE delivered the eulogy at T’s funeral: “No truer American existed than Thoreau His life 1. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, July 12, 1817 2. In Harvard College in 1833, and graduated in 1837 as one of the honor students 3. Opened a school, where he taught with his brother John 4. 1839, made a trip on Concord and Merrimack rivers with John 5. Helped Emerson edit The Dial and tutored Emerson’s children 6. In March 1845 ( when 28)began to work on a cabin at Walden Pond, and on July 4, moved into the Walden cabin 7. 1846, arrested for nonpayment of poll tax 8. Published Walden on August 9, 1856 9. Met Walt Whitman in Brooklyn 1856 10. In 1860, contracted the cold that led to his fatal illness, and died in Concord on May 6, 1862 11.In 1906, 20 volumes of Thoreau’s writings were published, including 14 volumes of his journal Walden lake, where Thoreau found the real meaning of life. A reproduction of the cabin where Thoreau lived for two years and two months The nameless and timeless Henry Beauty originates from simplicity. His major works 1. Walden , known for its modern style, simplicity of diction and figures of speech, has 200 different editions and been translated into every major modern language. 2. Walden was revised 8 times, and is read as the 19th century Adventures of Robinson Crusoe 3. Civil Disobedience is the result of his jailed experience in 1846, embodying the pioneering spirit of the American frontiersman and a development of the philosophy in the Declaration of Independence, having a great impact on Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. “By working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.” Growing his own food and building his own shelter gave him freedom to work productively as a writer and thinker Profound connection between self reliance, meaningful labor, and thought An age of social experimentation Like the 1960s, the 1840s saw a number of experiments with communes. Hawthorne lived for a time at Brook Farm, the Alcotts at Fruitlands. T’s stay at Walden Pond is a more solitary response to this same impulse towards social experimentation. I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.” While living at Walden Pond, T was arrested and briefly jailed for not paying his poll tax. His essay on the experience, “Civil Disobedience,” explores the question of what a person should do when he or she feels that his government is acting immorally. Crosspollination Like RWE, T avidly studied the Hindu scriptures of India. Mahatma Gandhi studied T’s writings on civil disobedience as he led India’s struggle for independence. MLK based many of his ideas on nonviolent action on the work of Gandhi. Thoreau and Emerson A frog was made to live in a swamp, but a man was not made to live in a swamp. I had tenderly cherished the flower of our friendship till one day my friend treated it as a weed. Emerson refused to recognize Thoreau as a writer, but a hermit. The American literary tradition 1. Natty Bumpo---Civilized city and savaged woods. Character – Last of the Mohicans 2.Ahab ---Civilized ship and savaged sea- 3. Hester---Civilized village and savaged forest 4. Huckleberry Finn---Civilized village and savaged river Thoreau---Civilized Concord and the wild Walden lake The American Cultural Tradition Puritans Civilized England The New World 1. Freedom 2. Human rights 3. Democracy 4. Wealth The main character The unknown world The frontiers The American Dream The West
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