80. HENRY DAVID THOREAU: On happiness
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American writer, poet, philosopher and one of the leading figures of the transcendentalism movement. Besides writing Civil Disobedience, which inspired such revolutionaries as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr, Thoreau is most well-known for his book Walden, in which he recounts the two years he lived in a small cabin in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau used the time to immerse himself in his writing and to live a more simple and self-sufficient life. As he put it:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
Have any of you actually read Walden? Do you recommend it?
- Nathanial Hawthorne has a very similar quote attributed to him. Can anyone confirm this is a Thoreau quote? (UPDATE: Thanks to reader Kyle for confirming Thoreau as the author)
– Thanks to Michael for submitting this.
– I’ve mentioned my love for Calvin and Hobbes before. I had Bill Watterson’s watercolour paintings beside me while I was colouring this comic.