The Major Essays of Henry David Thoreau

The Major Essays of Henry David Thoreau

The Major Essays of Henry David Thoreau

The Major Essays of Henry David Thoreau

Synopsis

This is the only current work where you'll find all of Thoreau's major essays in one volume. Includes Thoreau's "reform" essays, "walking" essays and his "natural history" essays.

Excerpt

Known to most readers as the author of Walden: Or Life in The Woods,Henry David Thoreau is also one of America's most important and influential essayists, a fact that is often obscured by the power and popularity of his masterpiece. During the period from 1843 to 1862, Thoreau often published his essays in important periodicals before they appeared in collections or before they were collected by his editors for posthumous publication. The Maine Woods, for example, began as a collection of narrative essays published partly in popular periodicals. Thoreau's essays and their ideas were often tested in nineteenth- century literary and political journals. Many of his essays began as journal entries written in his fourteen volume journal, and many of these entries were later expanded into lectures that were read on the lyceum circuit, at times in heated political and rhetorical situations. These lectures were often revised as essays or transformed into much longer works like Walden, a book that strikes many scholars as a collection of related essays. For example, several chapters of Walden, such as "Economy" or "Spring," are often anthologized as distinct literary essays. Scholarly attempts to comprehend the unity of Walden often fail because individual chapters often operate as essays on single topics or groups of related topics. Why can "Economy," for example, be read as a sharp critique of the nineteenth-century cult of progress? Why can "Spring," moreover, be easily read as a euphoric tribute to the power of seasonal change and the myth of renewal? These essay-like chapters often followed the journal to lecture to essay pattern of development.

Thoreau's reputation as a skilled writer of nonfiction prose in the essay form places him among the most influential essayists in the American literary tradition. His contributions equal or surpass those of Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson . . .

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