A Fresh Look At Thoreau’s Walden Pond

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For all of us who look to the woods, wilderness and open road for an escape or adventure of a lifetime, the word Thoreau means something. He was the guy who made tiny homes cool, cabins rad, and giving the middle finger to society sexy. Most of us have probably read his quotes peppered across media and mediums, from Instagram to Pinterest, text books to your summer reading list. The truth of the matter is this: for anyone whose actually read a Thoreau novel from cover to cover can attest to the dense and complex text as well as the struggle that comes along with a few hundred pages written in old English – it may  as well be another language!

If you’re asking yourself: What exactly is he (the guy writing) getting at: look no further. The New Yorker has published an article called Pond Scum by Kathryn Schulz that exposes the truth about Walden and the guy who called that tiny cabin in Emerson’s backyard (yes, it was in his backyard) home.

 


  • Doug Bell

    What a sad reading of Thoreau. The challenge is to find the sublime in his eloquent descriptions of nature and how man can live simply and happily *within* her dictatorship. Look around at the mess we’ve made of the planet, at the wars and horrible things we do to one another. Thoreau saw it clearly way back then and sought in nature instructions, if you will, on how to live. Is he always right? Of course not. Is anyone (other than Ms. Shultz)? But in my opinion you read him understanding that he was just a man, flawed as we all are, who saw evil in society and tried to deal with it the best way that he could. His works are journals really, not philosophical treatises—he isn’t telling you what you ought to do: he’s telling you what he did and why. Mincing it up and criticizing him by some modern standard is scholarly cowardice, just as worshipping him is adolescent fantasy. Read him and trip out on how turned on he was by just being in a contemplative state in nature. As surfers, we should all relate.