Henry David Thoreau's Statement on the Classics in Walden

Henry David Thoreau's Statement on the Classics in Walden

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Henry David Thoreau's Statement on the Classics in Walden

In the novel Walden, Henry David Thoreau states that the classics are the noblest recorded thoughts of man. He also believed that the written word is the work of art nearest to life itself. Walden fits this description through many elements in the novel including relevance, universality, and beauty. The novel is a collection of essays Thoreau wrote commenting on his experiment of living in the woods for two years. He lived in a hut off the shore of Walden Pond in Massachusetts between 1845 and 1847. The essays include his encounters with people, animals, and nature along with his philosophies on different subjects.
Though many people do not care for Thoreau's ideas, there is still significance in his work even for the twenty-first century. Escaping technology and moving into a hut is not a simple task for the average American today, however Thoreau's philosophies can still be applied to this century. He believes that you must love your life because that is the only way you will be happy. In his conclusion, Thoreau states, "Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor-house.(chapter 18, p217-218)" That applies to the people of today as much as the people of the 1800's and will apply to people in the future as well. Thoreau feels that everyone needs to find themselves and figure out what they want out of life.
Thoreau clearly expresses that not everyone should live in the woods as he had done. He attempts to reach everyone on his or her own level which gives the novel universal appeal. He encourages his readers to undertake experiments on their own. There are general comments on life throughout the novel, which can be interpreted by each individual in their own way. Many of his ideas are broad and are not meant to be taken literally. Thoreau states that, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. (chapter 18, p217)" Such an idea can relate to anyone, no matter their age, class, or race. Thoreau also uses the word "we" to put himself on the same level with his audience.

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"Truly we are deep thinkers, we are ambitious spirits! (chapter 18, p220)" His clear, articulate ideas relate closely to life and can be understood without complication even 150 years after being written.
As a naturalist, Thoreau takes time to describe the beauty around him while at Walden Pond. He uses many similes and metaphors for a natural effect including, "It is a vitreous greenish blue, as I remember it, like those patches of the winter sky seen through cloud vistas in the west before sundown(Chapter 9, p122)" when describing Walden Pond. The essay entitle "The Ponds" is used mostly to illustrate Walden Pond and other ponds surrounding the area. These vivid descriptions allow the reader to clearly visualize the magnificence of the natural world. Though many say a picture is worth a thousand words, words can be worth a thousand pictures. Thoreau takes an artistic approach to his writing with a certain flow to make his novel as beautiful as a painting.
Walden fits Thoreau's statement about the classics being the noblest recorded thoughts of man and the works of art nearest to life itself. He achieves this through his use of relevance, universality, and beauty. Many paintings can not explain the artists exact thoughts, however the written work can give an articulate explanation of how the author felt when he was writing. Thoreau's exact thoughts on life are captured in his words for people to read centuries later. These readers can be greatly inspired by such a classic, which serves Thoreau's statement on the classics perfectly.
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