I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. 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 in my next excursion.
By Elizabeth Witherell, with Elizabeth Dubrulle
When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. (Walden, 3)
With these words, Henry David Thoreau began the tale of his experiment of simple living at Walden Pond. Over the course of the next three hundred-odd pages, Thoreau outlined his philosophy of life, politics, and nature, laying the foundation for a secure place in the canon of great American writers. AlthoughWalden enjoyed only moderate success in Thoreau's lifetime, his experiment at the pond would spark considerable interest in the years to come. The book has inspired other young people to follow his example and retire to a lonely spot--even if only in imagination--to ponder the world and their place in it.
.......Thoreau's life and work have continued to provoke and inspire, and there are almost as many different opinions as there are readers. Which view of Thoreau is most accurate: The dour hermit of Walden Woods? The environmental guru? The antislavery crusader? The irresponsible layabout? The pacifist? The pantheist? The prophet? None suffices to represent Thoreau by itself; all find support inWalden.