Notes from introduction to Walden
Reaped from the land both physically and mentally
Pursued truth in the quiet of nature
Separate yourself from the world of men to awaken your sleeping self
To truly exist:
- Separate yourself from society.
- Be with nature.
- Reenter society as an enlightened being.
Individualism + Love of Nature
Perform an experiment in essential living
- Focus on quiet and undivided time to write books
Walden is a story with a central character and a quest. The character and events are partly fictitious. It has the elementa of the ff.: journal, memoir, essay, rumination, and sermon
Walden is a prophetic book.
Walden was more a matter of imagination than fact, which characterizes retreats.
Write from the vantage of being there.
Considered a nobody by fellow citizens.
His social awkwardness was bound up with his seeking.
Thoreau’s loneliness became his guide
Thoreau’s project couldve been pursued anywhere. His choice of place was temperamental.
Essentials = bare physical necessities + awareness of living moment
In the course of his own century, and then in ours, the impulse for such retreats from the assumptions and traffic of society has become something of a commonplace. It has been blurred and cheapened sometimes in the process. The essentials have been accorded the status of cliches, and the retreat itself, in one form or another, has been commodified. Thoreau’s own attitude toward the essentials, toward the nature which he shares with all that is mortal and, perhaps, immortal, remains as rare as it always was, the root of his language and the mark of his originality.
- not aggressive intellectual extension and dominion
- attitude: Lucid, singular acceptance
- Similar to: Traherne’s “Centuries of Meditations”, Sir Thomas Browne, Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Darwin
“A slight sound at evening lifts me up by the ears, and makes life seem inexpressibly serene and grand. It may be in Uranus, or it may be in the shutter.”
Thoreau’s ambition was “to speak somewhere without bounds; like a man in a waking moment, to men in their waking moments.”
Merwin, W. S. (2012). Introduction. In H. D. Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (pp. vii–xv). Signet Classics.