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Walden, Revisited

I read Walden in high school for American literature class—and I didn’t know how to appreciate it. The teacher assigned Walden for Christmas break and I was not surprised that it became an object of my procrastination after perusing for a few days. When days of the break were numbered, I took to reading, no, actually skimming excerpts of Walden or individual quotations and thought them to be insightful and thought-provoking. When taken one sentence at a time, after, of course, carefully screening for only those which inspire deep thought and meditation, Thoreau is just fine. But the overall impression was underwhelming.

I started reading it the first weekend after school broke for Christmas, I realized I was so bored. Thoreau takes over three-hundred pages to talk about spending two years in the woods, and with the amount he rambled, I thought essay-length would be more readable. I was not as put off by the lack of human contact and dullness of life as his being self-righteous and pompous. In between the lines I could sense his condescension. Anyway, that was past tense.

Maybe certain books are meant for mature years of a reader. Walden is definitely such a book. It must have been 20 years since I read it and something compelled me to pick it up at the library store. The copy in question is Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau in a retro cover. This edition includes Civil Disobedience, The Journal, Maine Woods, and Life Without Principle. I know better this time to pace my reading so that I leave enough room for reflection and meditation. After all, this is a work of philosophical nature, something that, unlike fiction, is not meant to devour in huge portion. Maybe I should bring a chair to Muir Wood and read it for a day—to experience the serenity and harmony of nature.

6 Responses

  1. Walden is one of my favorite books, and I try to read it every spring. I never get tired of. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of it this time around.

  2. I have not read Walden, but I know what you mean by requiring a certain amount of maturity for some books. There are books that bored the life out of me when I tried to read them as a teen, but some of them now rank as my favorites. The Tin Drum is a classic example

  3. […] Walden, Revisited (mattviews.wordpress.com) […]

  4. One of my favourite books as you can revisit it time and time again and find more to explore and consider.

    I agree that some books require maturity. I read The Waves by Virgina Woolf when I was about 16 and thought it truely wonderful until she started talking about a period of life that I had not, at that time,experienced. I thought it suddenly went out of focus. I re read the whole book a couple of years back and understood why the exploration of people in their 30’s and 40’s would have confused my teenage self.

    Great blog by the way, really enjoying it.

  5. Reading his work in a place like Muir Wood would be a fantastic idea. I have read bits and pieces of his work and enjoy it and the ideals he espouses.

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