Henry David Thoreau
1817: born in Concord, Massachusetts
1833: attends Harvard, majored in English literature
1838: begins lecturing in Concord
1842: Henry's brother John dies of lockjaw
1843: tutors at Emerson's brother's house on Staten Island
1845: moves to Walden Pond
1847: leaves Walden Pond
1849: writes A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers
1854: wrote Walden or Life in the Woods
1857: starts writing The Maine Woods
1859: Thoreau's father dies, and he carries on business
1860: writes A Plea for Captain John Brown
1862: dies in Concord of tuberculosis
1864: The Maine Woods published posthomously
1865: Cape Cod published posthomously
Though Thoreau was not really recognized in his own time, he is known today
as the most challenging major American author. He is also known as
a transcendentalist along with other great writers, such as Bronson
Alcott, Margaret Fuller, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Issues and Themes
His style of prose is exhibited in such works as The Maine Woods,
"Resistance to Civil Government," and Walden. These pieces
of literature focus on the importance of nature and individualism.
Thoreau tried to convey the idea to live life, not just walk through it.
He wanted people to reevaluate their lives and see what was really important.
Explain the statement: "It is not enough to be busy...the question
is: what are we busy about?"
What does Thoreau mean by living "deliberately"?
How is Emerson different from Thoreau? How are they similar?
What was Thoreau's purpose in going to Walden Pond?
The title "Economy" means something like "philosophy of living" (see
footnote p. 788). What is Thoreau's philosophy of living?
What does Thoreau mean by the following statement : "Do not stay to be
an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of
the world" (829).
David Thoreau." umsa.umd.edu/thoreau/history.htm
Myerson, Joel. Emerson and Thoreau: The Contemporary Reviews. American
Critical Archieves Series.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Norton Anthology of American
Literature. Shorter Fourth Edition. New York: W.W.
Norton, 1995. 788-829.
Written by Anna Hunt, Wendy Jernigan, Matt McNeill, and Tabitha Strickland,
students, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 1997
Edited by Mark Canada, Ph.D., professor of English, University of North
Carolina at Pembroke
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