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Walden

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Lynn Wang

on 18 January 2013

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Transcript of Walden

Presented by Matt Sena and Lynn Wang Context In the early 19th century, America was undergoing a drastic change that transformed its economy forever and elevated its status to rival the most prosperous nations of the world. However, this growth and wealth came at a price. The Panic of 1837 was one of many economic and financial meltdowns that ruined lives and reminded Americans how frighteningly dependent they were on the ebb and flow of the new market economy. Thousands lost their homes and thousands more lost their jobs in panics like these. The Industrial Revolution drove more people into poverty than it did to riches. Slavery had always been a part of the South, but in the North emerged two new classes of men: urban wage earners and the urban poor. These men lived lives of quiet desperation, completely dependent on the menial wages they earned for survival. Author: Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Like many Americans, Henry David Thoreau was dissatisfied with the brutally impersonal society created by urbanization. Transcendentalism was a reaction to the perceived human rat race. In 1845, depressed by his brother's death and hoping to explore transcendentalism, Henry David Thoreau built a cabin near Walden Pond in Concord, MA and lived there for two years, where he wrote the first drafts of Walden. Character: Henry David Thoreau At its core, Walden questions the validity of our values and whether or not the lives we are told we should lead are the ones that we truly want to lead.

"So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our old life, and denying the possibility of change." Walden, or Life In the Woods
Genre: autobiography, philosophy
Length: 261 pages
Reading Level: Advanced The bulk of the book takes place in this cabin by Walden Pond, a few miles away from Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau's isolation is often exaggerated: he was never so far from civilization, and Concord was easily within walking distance. Individualistic
Opinionated
Skeptic of Consumer Culture
Liberal/Conservative Matt Reviews Walden "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...

"When a man is warmed by the several modes which I have described, what does he want next? Surely not more warmth of the same kind, as more and richer food, larger and more splendid houses, finer and more abundant clothing, more numerous, incessant, and hotter fires, and the like. When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, his vacation from humbler toil having commenced. The soil, it appears, is suited to the seed, for it has sent its radicle downward, and it may now send its shoot upward also with confidence. Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above? — for the nobler plants are valued for the fruit they bear at last in the air and light, far from the ground, and are not treated like the humbler esculents (vegetables), which, though they may be biennials, are cultivated only till they have perfected their root, and often cut down at top for this purpose, so that most would not know them in their flowering season." 1. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. N.p.: Barnes & Noble Classics, 1992. Print.
2."Thoreau's Walden - an Annotated Edition." Thoreau's Walden - an Annotated Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2013. Works Cited Rating: 10 for the thought stimulation and 5 for the entertainment
Good:
-Grand statements on life and our human nature are so frequent that it made me think about some pretty fascinating and tough concepts.
-First Person Narration
-His unique writing voice

Bad:
-It's pretty dense:)
-He comes across as full of himself in some cases.
-He takes a stance on everything and doesn't pose many questions without answers. I respect a good question more than a good answer.

I would recommend it! If you have time to read it... Lynn Reviews Walden Walden and Slavery "I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery...." "Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone...." When confronted with difficult questions, often one must remove himself from his environment to ponder the answer. Henry David Thoreau did exactly that. In Walden, Thoreau details his two-year sojourn to Walden Pond, Massachusetts, where he sought to "front only the essential facts of life". In his search for meaning in his own life, Thoreau has inevitably provided some tentative answers to the meanings of our own with vivid, forceful prose that forces us to question not only the world in which we live, but the manner in which we do so. Rating: 10 for relevance, 4 for entertainment value
Good:
-Very thought-provoking, and a must-read for all of you self-proclaimed "career-driven" types
-Vivid descriptions of Walden Pond
-Articulates ideas I have long failed to find words for

Bad:
-Not for people seeking to read for pleasure
-Ideas feel narcissistic in outlook at times
-Leaves questions regarding civic responsibility and the like unanswered
Full transcript