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Henry David Thoreau
Why was Henry David Thoreau such a wonderful writer? He had many great qualities, but the most important were his devotion to nature and writing, his desire for independence, and his experiences he encountered throughout his life. Henry David Thoreau looked to nature as the basis of life and writing. He believed that nature is the reflection of inner spiritual reality. He spent his life in search of the essentials of reality and of experiences that would bring him close to these essentials.
He lived in a hut for two years at Walden Pond to rid his body of inessential things. During Thoreau's stay, he completed his first book titled, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers(1849). Here, he also filled his journals with materials for his most famous piece, Walden. After he left the hut, and after college, he became a literary apprentice by writing essays and poems and by helping edit the transcendentalist journal, The Dial. When success did not come, Thoreau remained dedicated to his program of "education" through intimacy with nature, and also through writing that would express this experience. It was his life in nature that was his great theme.
In order for Thoreau to write so much on nature he had to be familiar with it. His knowledge of the woods and fields, of the rivers, the ponds, and swamps, of every plant and animal was outstanding. Emerson even stated, "His power of observation seemed to indicate additional senses." Thoureau wrote a book titled Walden(1854) in which the theme of it was the relationship to the order and beauty of nature in the human mind. This book consists of records of Thoreau's stay at Walden Pond. Thoreau's love and devotion to nature and his writing was a key to his excellence in writing. Henry David Thoreau also felt that individualism was a great necessity to his writing style. In his piece of literature titled "Civil Disobedience", he expressed his belief in the power and the obligation of the individual to determine right from wrong, independent of the dictates of society. Thoreau's friends agreed with his views, but few practiced it in their own lives as consistently as he.
Thoreau demonstrated his idea of independence in many ways. He worked for pay intermittently, he made relationships with many of the towns outcasts, he never married, he signed off from the First Parish Church rather than be taxed automatically to support it every year, and he lived alone in the woods for two years, in seclusion. His nearest neighbor was at least a mile away. While he was living independently in the woods, he thought of many new ideas for his literature. Thoreau even tried to encourage others to assert their individuality, each in his or her own way. He also believed that independent, well-considered actions arose naturally from a questing attitude of mind.
He was first and foremost an explorer, of both the world around him and the world within him. In his most popular piece ever, Walden, he stated this: "Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought,"(Walden, p. 321). Also, Thoreau's celebration of solitude was a natural outgrowth of his commitment to the idea of individual action. This following idea also brought up a point in Walden. "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready,"(Walden, pg.72) Many of Thoreau's ideas of individualism can be found as major statements in his writing. Thoreau came to much of his great literature due to the amount of experiences he had throughout his life.
His major experience was living at Walden Pond for two years and learning about his own life and about the wonders of nature. Thoreau even stated himself, "I learned this, at least, from experience." Here, he was talking about how he got all the information for his book Walden totally from experiences. Although Walden was only moderately successful in Thoreau's lifetime, his experiment in the wilderness did spark interest in young people. The book inspired people to follow his example and go to a lonely spot and wonder the world and find their place in it. For many, Walden served as a touchstone. Thoreau said that he went to the pond to write a book in
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Civil disobedience, Nonviolence, Ecological succession, Henry David Thoreau, Lecturers, Walden, Nature, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, M, Thoreau Society, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, walden pond thoreau, henry david thoreau, merrimack rivers, power of observation, essays and poems, spiritual reality, transcendentalist, writing essays, civil disobedience, individualism, writing style, swamps, intimacy, devotion, apprentice, ponds, senses, concord, reflection, emerson
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