LIFE IN THE WOODS
Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that reflects upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, and manual for self-reliance. First published in 1854, it details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond in Massachusetts, where here he lived a border life between civilization of town life to his east and the primitivism of the frontier to the west. Feeling that the civilization had erected barriers between man and nature which can lead only to alienation and unhappiness, he believed to experience the most vivid and profound experiences in the woods: “The land, with its tranquilizing, sanative influences, is to repair the errors of a scholastic and traditional education, and brings us into just relation with men and things. Dissatisfied with the word poverty as a descriptor for his own condition, Thoreau preferred simplicity, which he felt conveyed a consciously chosen material situation: “Man is rich in proportion of the number of things, he can do without”
“Trade is also but for a time, and must give way to somewhat broader and better, whose signs are already dawning in the sky”
Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Young American
The Transcendentalists were a group of American anti materialists from the late 1820s and 1830s, who sought an alternative to the industrial economy amidst nature, in the simple life. Transcendentalism developed as a reaction against 18th century rationalism among a group of mostly New England thinkers and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
The Transcendentalists believed in living simply and wisely and experienced their most vivid and profound experiences in nature. Their aesthetic was more naturalistic than artistic with the goal was to transcend materialism and rationalism and so penetrate their inner spirituality that was at the core of each person. “There is something greater within than the whole material creation, than in all the worlds which press on the eye and ear; and that inward improvements have a worth and dignity in themselves.”
Words by Sidsel Solmer Eriksen Read More