Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, civil disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.
Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore; while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and "Yankee" loves of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time imploring one to abandon waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the fugitive slave law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther king, Jr. Thoreau is sometimes cited as an individualist anarchist. though civil disobedience calls for improving rather than abolishing government – "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"– the direction of this improvement aims at anarchism: "'that government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."
Early life and education
He was born David Henry Thoreau in
Portrait of Thoreau from 1854amos Bronson Alcott and Thoreau's aunt each wrote that "Thoreau" is pronounced like the word "thorough", whose standard American pronunciation rhymes with "furrow". Edward Emerson wrote that the name should be pronounced "Thó-row, the h sounded, and accent on the first syllable." in appearance he was homely, with a nose that he called "my most prominent feature." of his face, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: "Thoreau is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty.” Thoreau also wore a neck-beard for many years, which he insisted many women found attractive. However, Louisa may Alcott mentioned to Ralph Waldo Emerson that Thoreau's facial hair "will most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man's virtue in perpetuity.” Thoreau studied at
Civil disobedience and the Walden years: 1845–1849
Thoreau embarked on a two-year experiment in simple living on July 4, 1845, when he moved to a small, self-built house on land owned by Emerson in a second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond. The house was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, 1.5 miles (
Thoreau revised the lecture into an essay entitled resistance to civil government (also known as civil disobedience). In May 1849 it was published by Elizabeth Peabody in the aesthetic papers. Thoreau had taken up a version of Percy Shelley’s principle in the political poem The Mask of Anarchy (1819) that Shelley begins with the powerful images of the unjust forms of authority of his time – and then imagines the stirrings of a radically new form of social action. At Walden Pond, he completed a first draft of a week on the concord and