Monday, 7 May 2018

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

Paperback:  Walking, or sometimes referred to as "The Wild", is a lecture by Henry David Thoreau first delivered at the Concord Lyceum on 23 April 23 1851.  It was written between 1851 and 1860, but parts were extracted from his earlier journals.  Thoreau read the piece a total of ten times, more than any other of his lectures.

Walking was first published as an essay in the Atlantic Monthly after his death in 1862.  He considered it one of his seminal works, so much so, that he once wrote of the lecture, "I regard this as a sort of introduction to all that I may write hereafter."

Walking is a Transcendental essay in which Thoreau talks about the importance of nature to mankind, and how people cannot survive without nature, physically, mentally, and spiritually, yet we seem to be spending more and more time entrenched by society.  For Thoreau, walking is a self-reflective spiritual act that occurs only when you are away from society, that allows you to learn about who you are, and find other aspects of yourself that have been chipped away by society.

Walking (1862, 2017) is an important canon in the transcendental movement that would lay the foundation for his best known work, Walden.  Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, and George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature, it has become one of the most important essays in the Transcendentalist movement. (Wikipedia)

About the author:  Henry David Thoreau was born (1817), died, and lived most of his life in Concord Massachusetts, where the American Revolution against British colonial rule began.  Educated at Harvard, Thoreau was an avid reader - in five languages - of everything from classical literature and Hindu and Chinese philosophy through narratives of travel and early American settlement, to works on the flora and fauna of his native region.  Taking an active part in current political and ethical debates, Thoreau became a courageous, outspoken opponent of federal government policies, such as the expansionist war against Mexico and the refusal of Congress to legislate against southern slavery. Though he loved books about discovery and travel, Thoreau wandered neither frequently nor over a great distance.   Thoreau kept a journal of his thoughts and observations exceeding two million words by the end of his life. He died, in Concord, in 1862.

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