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Thread: Introductions have too much detail?

  1. #1
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    Introductions have too much detail?

    So far all of the introductions I've read aren't simply introductions that introduces you to a book but rather a summary or general overview of the book. Sometimes I just want to skip it all but they give SO much information you can write on and on about it and contemplate over it. Just in case you're wondering, I'm reading Walden right now and it is so interesting despite what my other friends say. I love how he thinks about human life in general and some of his "unconventional" ideas (which I don't find that eccentric).

    Okay, I've got to stop ruminating about this. I just want to get to the actual writings of Thoreau. Should I always read the introduction though? or... should I read the piece first and see what evaluations and insights I come up with and then compare them with the piece? I don't know if doing that would hinder my reading and thinking in any way... What do you guys think?? Thanks.

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    veni vidi vixi Bakiryu's Avatar
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    Read the book first. Then you would understand the introduction better. Introductions are often, boorish, cumbersome things. .
    Shall these bones live?

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    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    The introduction to one book called Existentialism I found to be very enlightening, but usually I find them to be like you said summaries instead of introductions. I am in the habit of reading them now, just to do so I guess. I only read about 20 pages of Walden because I just got into other things, but I liked it and I have friend who love it, and it's a classic in general of course, but I would advise just reading it, because it's written to be read like that I think.

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    a dreamer waldenfairy's Avatar
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    If you already find Walden interesting then maybe you'll find the intro just as interesting! It sounds as if you already made up your mind. But, I say that reading the intro or just keep turning the pages on Walden's thoughts . . . it's all good.

    I like what Bakiyru suggested . . . dive into the dessert of Walden first - then eat up the appetizer if you still have room for filler. - Enjoy!

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    I've noticed that as well, particularly if 'ol Harold Bloom is involved.

    If you like Walden, you should also check out Ralph Waldo Emerson's poems and essays. He fathered the movement the Romantic movement, which Thoreau followed, and some could argue that he created American culture as we know it.

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    Audi et alteram partem. Dr Jekyll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KidTruth View Post
    I've noticed that as well
    Oh yes, so have I. Upon opening any classic, I have found a thoroughly written "introduction", which is actually an explanation of the contents of the book (it depends of what the edition of the book is, for example: Oxford University Press, Barnes & Noble, Wordsworth edition, ...). When opening the first page of Oxford World Classics edition of "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll [that'll be me ] and Mr Hyde", they warned the reader:
    Introduction

    [Readers who do not wish to learn the details of the plot may prefer to treat the Introduction as an Epilogue]

    And I have found out that they had a reason for warning us. The "introduction" explained in detail the plot of the story along with anything that might be unfamiliar or unclear to the reader
    "I should like to know what people fear the most: whatever is contrary to their usual habits, I imagine." -Fyodor Dostoevsky

    "A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul" -Franz Kafka

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    Quote Originally Posted by KidTruth View Post
    He fathered the movement the Romantic movement, which Thoreau followed, and some could argue that he created American culture as we know it.
    Perhaps it was merely a mistake in terminology, but was not the movement that Emerson helped to establish "American Transcendentalism" or simply "transcendentalism?" Such are the only terms that I have ever seen used in reference to it by either Thoreau or Emerson (and I have read most of the writings by both men).

    And, while there might (stressing the word might) be some parallels in thought between the European Romantic movement and that of American Transcendentalism as it existed in the late 1800's, to call the movement popularized by Emerson "Romantic" might cause some confusion between the two terms as well as unjustly place some limitations on his conception of "transcendentalism," which was incredibly complex by way of comparison.

    Also, while Thoreau was definitely influenced by some of Emerson's philosophy, I wouldn't exactly call him a follower of Emerson or think of him as some kind of disciple. He was as much a practitioner of Emerson's thought as he was of his own.

    Sorry if I'm being a bit nit-picky.

    To the OP: I agree with the recommendation by Kid Truth of reading Emerson if you find yourself to be intrigued by Thoreau; and would go further and recommend Aldo Leopold, Edward Abby, and John Muir as well.

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