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07-12   Print  E-mail
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Writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David... Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. Associated with the Concord-based literary movement called New England Transcendentalism, he embraced the Transcendentalist belief in the universality of creation, and the primacy of personal insight and experience. Thoreau's advocacy of simple, principled living remains compelling, while his writings on the relationship between people and the environment helped define the nature essay.

After graduating from Harvard in 1837, Thoreau held a series of odd jobs. Encouraged by Concord neighbor and friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, he started publishing essays, poems, and reviews in the transcendentalist magazine The Dial. "A Natural History of Massachusetts," (1842) revealed his talent for writing about nature.

From 1845 to 1847, Thoreau moved to a hut on the edge of Walden Pond, a small glacial lake near Concord. Guided by the maxim "Simplify, simplify," he strictly limited his expenditures, his possessions, and his contact with others. His goal: "To live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach."

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it.

Henry David Thoreau,
"Where I Lived, and What I Lived for,"
from Walden; or, Life in the Woods



 

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