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ERIC Number: ED089325
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1973-Nov
Pages: 7
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Thoreau, Sensuous Transcendentalist.
Harding, Walter
There are at least four reasons why the stereotype of Henry David Thoreau as an ascetic and a stoic have been perpetuated: (1) Emerson, in his eulogy of Thoreau, emphasized these qualities by saying, "Few lives contain so many renunciations...he ate no flesh, he drank no wine, he never knew the use of tobacco; and, though a naturalist, he used neither trap nor gun... He had no temptations to fight against--no appetites, no passions, no taste for elegant trifles.... He never had a vice in his life." (2) modern scholars approach Thoreau as a Transcendentalist, and although Thoreau was profoundly influenced by the philosophy, to think of him in only those terms is to conceive of him as one who abjured the physical world and dwelt in the world of ideas. (3) Thoreau was undoubtedly influenced by some of the Puritan ideas. (4) Thoreau lived in the heart of the Victorian age, and we are prone to see him as a Victorian. However, Thoreau, unlike Emerson, was sensuous, as evidenced by virtually all of his writings. He is constantly making use of all of the senses, not only in descriptive passages but also in his most theoretical passages. Since our age is more sensually oriented, Thoreau's writings are more appealing than Emerson's philosophical abstractions. (LL)
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