View Full Version : Thoreau and Deliberate Living

10-21-2005, 04:28 PM
Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
Edited by Bill McKibben

Published over a century and a half ago, Henry David Thoreau’s, Walden, remains a masterpiece in American literature. One of the many ways Walden succeeds as a text is due to Thoreau’s optimistic outlook concerning one’s quest for self-fulfillment and a comfortable recognition of personal place in the world. The reason Thoreau chose to live at Walden Pond, just outside of Concord, Massachusetts, was because he wanted to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” (85) Along with his own process of self-discovery, Thoreau simultaneously urges the reader to be more self-aware and live more consciously. “Be it life or death, we crave only reality”, but he questions if we are really living in reality or are only mere observers of life.

Thoreau claims we’re not completely immersed in reality and to get there, to our own personal reality, we need to figure out our purpose. He writes, “In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here…And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us…whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us.” (91) Similar to the eastern philosophy of Buddhism which values the present moment as a way towards deeper understanding, Thoreau believes that truths are not only found in eternity, but in the “now and here.” It is our duty to recognize meaning in each moment, if we are to come to a better understanding of our self and the “track” that “is laid for us.”

12-03-2006, 12:05 PM
Walden is one of those books that change a person's outlook on life. Thoreau has truly become a hero to me, because I have learned from him about myself. I have learned my deepest desires and feelings. After reading this, my best friend also took the honor of discovering Walden as well. In the end, we both decided on the sort of life that we wished to lead. We both have similar plans for the future, and we will guide each other and push one another just so that we never forget our desires.

Life is spoiled on busy ways, but I say "simplicity, simplicity, simplicity".

01-07-2007, 10:14 PM
I'm from Boston, and when I went through my heavy Thoreau/Emerson/Alcott phase, it was cool to actually go to Walden Pond and read exerts of Walden. :idea:

Also going to Emerson's house and looking at his desk is indeed a very profound experience! Thanks to Don Henley and Company, there still are no condos built on Walden Pond! :thumbs_up Walden Pond is really nice in the fall to take a walk around the whole pond, stopping by the foundation of Thoreau's cabin! :D

Walden Pond (http://www.nanosft.com/walden/)

The Alcott house is very cool too! I used to take my Japanese students there as, of course, Little Women is well known in Japan, so for them to visit this red, American style house that Louisa wrote her book in was very special!

Fruitlands is interesting too. It was a farm established by the Transcendental leaders ( Mr. Alcott, et al) to be communal based on their philosophy. I believe it was short lived, like 8 months....

FruitLands.org (http://www.fruitlands.org/overview.php)

I'm really fortunate to have this stuff right in my own back yard! :D

03-11-2007, 05:52 PM
I live about 15-20 minutes from Fruitlands and I agree - the Alcott's experiment was fascinating as is the Quaker home there. I am currently reading March by Geraldine Brooks. It is about the experiences of the father in Little Women, same time period but what HE was going through in the army. It's great but it's really got me wondering where the history stops and the fiction starts. I guess you could call it "historical fiction". But what I've been wondering is, the March family in Little Women is modeled after the Alcott family. Are Laurie and Mr Laurence modeled after any real people? I know the Alcotts hung out with "big names". Do you suppose it's the Thoreaus - father and son?

What I did learn (good old google) is that Amy/May met a wealthy European and married him. And Jo/Louisa never married. So is Laurie completely made up? A fictional character?