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11-02-2005, 05:43 PM
Transcendentalism: A Reader
By Ralph Waldo Emerson

Originally written as an oration at Henry David Thoreau’s funeral in the summer of 1862, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Thoreau”, shows his affection and admiration for his friend, as well as disappointment for those that didn’t understand the depth of Thoreau’s thinking. One reason why Thoreau was often misunderstood in his time was because of his uncompromising ideals and opinions, even if that meant being unpopular among his contemporaries. Emerson recalls, “Himself of a perfect probity, he required not less of others…such dangerous frankness was in his dealing, that his admirers called him ‘that terrible Thoreau’…I think the severity of his ideal interfered to deprive him of a healthy sufficiency of human society.” (666) He was called the “terrible Thoreau” not because those near him disrespected him or had a deep dislike for him, but because of his demanding nature. Just as Emerson was an admirer of Thoreau’s analytical insight, he also recognized “the severity of his ideal” as hindering him from more involved relationships.
Perhaps Thoreau’s unwavering opinions accounted for his often unrecognized or overshadowed position for the transcendentalist magazine, the Dial. Though Thoreau helped Emerson and Margaret Fuller in publishing the Dial, his efforts were mainly in editing and critiquing other’s work, not in contributing original pieces.