Nineteenth-Century Prose

Articles from Vol. 31, No. 2, Fall

"And What Became of Your Philosophy Then?" Women Reading Walden
Examining the inclusion of Thoreau's words in three very different texts, this essay explores the distance Walden provides its readers. In the case of the virtually unknown Katharine Whited, her selections from Walden open a conversational space within...
Following Thoreau's Instincts
Thoreau's confession of two "instincts" at the beginning of "Higher Laws" exaggerates a tension already inherent in the favorite Transcendentalist metaphor of "instinct." On the one hand, the metaphor signifies idealist intuition, a mode of higher...
Introduction: Walden Sesquicentennial Essays
The essays collected here are implicit tributes to Walden's variety. Each approaches the book from a particular angle, although all point to and unpack versions of the dualism that scholars have identified as its thematic engine. In so doing, the essays...
Lakes of Light: Modes of Representation in Walden
"The Ponds" chapter of Walden, more than halfway through the book, presents our first extended and particularized view of the Walden landscape. In this essay, the author considers modes of representation in this pivotal chapter, which has traditionally...
Leaving Walden
In Walden, Thoreau claims that he "went to the woods" because he wanted "to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life." Yet he seems to have found it impossible to stay put at Walden Pond or to stay away from Concord for much longer...
The Cimeter's "Sweet" Edge: Thoreau, Contemplation, and Violence
This essay explores the tension between contemplation and heroic action that disquieted Thoreau throughout his career, especially when the slavery controversy intruded upon his thought. The Bhagavad Gita, because it focuses upon the dilemma of whether...
Thoreau and Idealism: "Face to Face to a Fact"
In light of the recent critical emphasis on Thoreau's engagement with empirical studies of plant and animal life, it is crucial to see his increasing attention to the detail of the material world as one part of a larger project of categorization and...
Thoreau, Homer, and Community
In Walden, Thoreau repeatedly alludes to Homer's Iliad. While many Thoreau scholars have commented on his firm grasp on the classics, there are still some new connections to be drawn between Walden and the specific passages of the Iliad to which Walden...
Thoreau's Divide: Rediscovering the Environmentalist/agriculturalist Debate in Walden's "Baker Farm"
A persistent worry in contemporary environmentalist circles concerns the reception of activists, who research and proclaim theoretical advice on sustainable agricultural practices, by agriculturalists--those who live upon and work the land and develop...
Thoreau's Materialism: From Walden to Wild Fruits
During the 1850s, Thoreau increasingly engaged in participatory observation of nature. At the same time, he became increasingly radical in his political beliefs. These concurrent developments were closely related manifestations of an underlying trend...
Walden and the Georgic Mode
Walden has strong ties to a formal and informal georgic tradition that stretches from classical antiquity through eighteenth-century England and antebellum America into the present day. Under the influence of agricultural works--Virgil's Georgies,...
Walden: Climbing the Canon
This essay traces the popular and critical reception of Walden from its publication in 1854 to the present. It attempts to distinguish the popularity of Walden from the stature of Thoreau as a cultural icon, and emphasizes the rise of Walden as a canonical...