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Laura Dassow Walls Publishes New Biography of Thoreau

July 06, 2017 Rebecca Corrente

Happy 200th Henry David Thoreau: New bio reframes naturalist, activist and philosopher

By Tom Montgomery Fate
Chicago Tribune
July 5, 2017

July 12 marks the bicentennial of the birth of writer-philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who is best known for his nature memoir, "Walden: Or, Life in the Woods," which stems from the two years (1845-47) he lived in a 10-by-15-foot cabin on the banks of Walden Pond near Concord, Mass. Over the years many biographers have tried to capture the life of Thoreau, each through a different lens of understanding: Thoreau as the transcendentalist, who, with Ralph Waldo Emerson and others, introduced a new philosophical movement. Or Thoreau as the naturalist, who carefully studied and recorded the ecology of the Concord area. Or Thoreau as the political activist, who spent a night in jail rather than pay his poll tax, and who fervently defended abolitionist John Brown. Or Thoreau as the low-tech poet-monk who sought to live a less material and more deliberate life amid the fevered industrialization of the mid-19th century. Read More >