His standing earned him a chance to speak at commencement exercises, and on the last Wednesday in August, before an assembly that included faculty, students, and the governor of Massachusetts, the twenty-year-old Thoreau
took the podium to denounce the "blind and unmanly love of wealth" that characterized America's commercial spirit, urging in its place a cultivation of the "moral affections" requisite for independence.
's deep investment in the personal came to mind when I was asked, as part of a roundtable at the 2018 meeting of the Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (C19), to consider how we might adapt certain nineteenth-century practices and attitudes in order to improve the social and political climate in our country.
The Quotable Thoreau
, the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Thoreau
quotations ever assembled, gathers more than 2,000 memorable passages from this iconoclastic American author, social reformer, environmentalist, and self-reliant thinker.
Achilles, though, and neither he nor I would want
When the time came for discussion, I was amazed that all the other students who spoke up were sure they knew what Thoreau
was up to--and they didn't like it one bit.
I was reminded of this during a recent trip to New England, where I explore the trail of transcendentalists (beginning in Concord, Massachusetts at the intersection of Walden and Thoreau
Streets), connecting with the natural world both inside and outside in celebration of Henry David Thoreau
's bicentennial birthday.
was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard.
Abolitionists eventually buy his freedom; in the meantime, Long builds a shack in Walden woods, where he becomes acquainted with Thoreau
. From Long's escape from slavery to his Maine woods pilgrimage with Thoreau
, the narrative is a testament to self-reliance and compassion.
Alma Natura, Ars Severa: Expanses & Limits of Craft in Henry David Thoreau
, is the published doctoral dissertation of Swedish scholar Henrik Otterberg (formerly Gustafsson), comprising a notable introduction and six previously published, peer-vetted essays: four articles from the Thoreau
Society journal The Concord Saunterer, one from SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, and a chapter from the 2013 collection Thoreauvian Modernities: Transatlantic Conversations on an American Icon (University of Georgia Press).
Dangerous or not, a little learning can be a stimulating thing, and I was just about to sit down and flame Stevenson for flaming Thoreau
, or at least for singeing him in many tender places, when I discovered that someone had long ago made the flaming unnecessary.
American philosopher and author Thoreau
is one of the most profound voices I have heard.
Initially a modest success, the book sold 2,000 copies within 5 years but then went out of print until 1862, the year Thoreau