Barron's Simplified Approach to Thoreau's Walden

Barron's Simplified Approach to Thoreau's Walden

Barron's Simplified Approach to Thoreau's Walden

Barron's Simplified Approach to Thoreau's Walden

Excerpt

Henry David Thoreau, 1817-62, was the only one of the many New England writers associated with Concord, Massachusetts, who was born there. Later, for the benefit of those who wondered if he had traveled extensively, he wrote, "I have traveled a good deal in Concord." This characteristic comment shows his loyalty to the place of his birth and also his irrepressible fondness for punning, for wherever he went in nature, there was harmony.

Thoreau's forebears were French, Scotch, and English. His name, pronounced in his time as THAW-roe or perhaps THUR-roe, came from a French-speaking Isle of Guernsey ancestor. Thoreau's father, John, who had inherited a good deal of property from his successful Boston father but had lost it in unlucky business experiments, was a pencil maker during the future writer's youth. Thoreau sporadically helped out at this chore of pencil-making. His mother Cynthia was intelligent, energetic, nature-loving, and according to some a bit domineering. Thoreau had an older sister Helen, a beloved brother John (also older), and later a younger sister Sophia. His brother's death by lockjaw in 1842 was one of the most profound sorrows of Thoreau's life. Helen, a teacher who died of tuberculosis in 1849, helped pay Thoreau's way through Harvard College. Sophia survived her brother, whom she devotedly nursed during his fatal sickness; later she helped defend and augment his reputation.

Thoreau was a normal boy in a typically busy family. Early in life, however, he demonstrated an unusual love of . . .

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