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Most people think Thoreau to be in the shadow of Wordsworth. Thoreau strongly

seeks to evade Emerson wherever he cannot revise him directly. Only

"Walden" was exempt from censure. Thoreau was a kind of American

Mahatma Ghandhi, a Tolstoyan hermit practicing native arts and crafts out in the

woods. He was not really an oppositional or dialectical thinker, like Emerson,

though certainly an oppositional personality, as the sacred Emerson was not.

Being also something of an elitist, again and unlike Emerson, Thoreau could not

always manage Emerson’s building up a kind of Longinian discourse by quoting

without citation. "Walden," for its incessant power, is frequently

uneasy because of an unspoken presence, or a perpetual absence that might as

well be a presence, and that stated in Thoreau’s journal: Emerson does not

consider things in respect to their essential utility, but an important partial

and relative one, as works of art perhaps. His probes pass one side of their

center of gravity. His exaggeration is of a part, not of the whole. This is only

a weak misreading of Emerson. However, it attributes to Emerson what is actually

Thoreau’s revision of Emerson. Thoreau was also a kind of Gnostic, but the rebel

Thoreau remained a Wordsworthian, reading nature for evidences of a continuity

in the ontological self that nature simply could not provide. "Walden"

is considered as both a simple and a difficult text, simple in that readers feel

a sense of unity. It is difficult in that they have been persistently perplexed

and occasionally exhorted in form. The primary question is to seek what Walden

means. There is also the concern with Walden’s style. Walden’s meaning can be

explained in two different ways. The first is by introducing a distinction

between form and content which simultaneously focuses attention on the question

of form and reduces content to little more than banning. From the first move

follows the more interesting and more pervasive second meaning. The

preoccupation with Walden’s formal qualities turns Walden’s meaning in a simple

sense. The assertion is to examine the form of any literary artifact, which is

to identify its essential unity, thus the concern with Walden’s structural

wholeness is integrated well in the book. In other words, one can say that the

common moral of "Walden" is the virtue of simplicity. Thoreau

substituted words like poverty, a word which set him apart from his

materialistic neighbors. "By poverty," he said, "simplicity of

life and fewness of incidents, I am solidified and crystallized, as a vapor or

liquid by cold. It is a singular concentration of strength and energy and

flavor. Chastity is perpetual acquaintance with the All. My diffuse and vaporous

life becomes as frost leaves and spiculae radiant as gems on the weeds and

stubble an a winter morning." Such poverty or purity was a necessity of

Thoreau’s economy. By simplicity, which Thoreau called poverty, his life becomes

concentrated and organized. "Walden" filled Thoreau’s immediate need

of self-therapy. In this perspective, "Walden" is the resolution

Thoreau was able to fulfill through art. He had effected his own resolution

through cautious endeavor and mature serenity. However, this serenity of

Thoreau, is a victory of discipline. He says it is the highest aim in life,

which requires the highest and finest discipline. To become one with Nature is

to become a soul reflecting the fullness of a being. His desire to perceive

things truly and simply resulted in his belief that fatal coarseness is the

result of mixing trivial affairs of men. In order to justify his devotion to

purity he wrote "Walden." He believed that when men is able to find

his natural center, a promise of the higher society man is possible. Like other

works of his time, it has the unique effort of American romanticism. It has

impressive individualism and the desire for experience. In the end, Thoreau

stated that if a man’s writings are interpreted more than one version, it is

considered a ground for complaint. He wanted "Walden" to be a fact

truly and absolutely stated, otherwise he would have considered it a failure if

is served only to communicate an eccentric’s refusal to go along with society,

if taken literally. "Walden" is an experience of the cosmic travels of

the self. At Walden pond, he wrote that the imagination of oneself is the best

symbol of our life. He went to Walden pond because he wanted to find a place

where you can walk and think with the least obstruction. He wanted a road where

he could travel and to recover the lost child that he is without any ringing of

a bell. The nature of the occupation of primitive concerns with essentials like

building a hut, planting, harvesting beans, fishing and naturalizing, gives each

its spiritual quality. "Walden" was Thoreau’s voyage for a reality he

had lost, and it was a quest for purity. Purity to Thoreau was a return to the

spring of life, to the golden age of his youth and senses. Warden follows the

cycle of developing consciousness, a cycle that parallels the change of the

seasons. It was a matter of purification because Thoreau had reached the winter

of decay at the time "Walden" was being revised for the press. Thoreau

was not a naturalist but a natural historian of the intellect using natural

facts as symbols for his quest for inspiration. He said that the natural world

reflects ourselves. In this sense, the Walden pond was the symbol. His purpose

was not to return to nature, but to combine the hardiness of savages with the

intellectualness of the civilized man. The civilized man to Thoreau, is a more

experienced and wiser savage; Life is most rewarding when chaneled by

intellectual principles.


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