Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry D. Thoreau

"...for my greatest skill has been to want but little."


Henry David Thoreau, the famous American philosopher and naturalist, used to say, “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Walden; or, Life in the Woods is a book which proves and further develops author’s thought. However, is it true? There’s only one way to learn.

Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry D. Thoreau

Walden; or, Life in the Woods is a memoir describing two years and two months of Henry D. Thoreau’s living in a forest lodge built by himself. During these years author sustained his living by himself, growing vegetables in the garden. As it was said before, Henry D. Thoreau once decided to try to isolate himself from society being under the influence of transcendentalist ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson and developed this forest experiment.

Henry D. Thoreau
Henry D. Thoreau. Source image via en.wikipedia.org

Within this experiment, Henry D. Thoreau tried to show his contemporaries with their cult of material prosperity that man can be happy even isolated from society, maintaining his life by his labour. The industrial revolution and consumer society are opposing with freedom from material worries, isolation, self-sufficiency and living with Nature.

The Plot

Walden; or, Life in the Woods has several chapters which describe us general moments of Mr Thoreau’s living in the forest: how he built his house and created a garden, what he read and so on. Chapter division is a little bit unwise as it develops strong feeling that Henry D. Thoreau lived in the forest for only one year.

Author’s reflections on current events in American society as well as his ideas of simple living are wordy and hard understandable. Not only because of the fantastic and very complicated style of writing, but also because of the significant dose of distraction. It is hard to follow author’s thoughts and keep patience wading through Mr Thoreau’s ideas and beliefs. The language of the book is its primary advantage and disadvantage at the same time.

Walden Quote
Source image via Artur Rutkowski @ unsplash.com

Henry D. Thoreau wrote Walden; or, Life in the Woods in 1854, and it was not accepted well in first years. Nevertheless, in XX century the book took the genuinely earned place in rows of greatest American literature creations.