am 27. April 2000
Anyone who prefers Emerson above Thoreau surely does so with a view to increasing his own popularity. Thoreau is too outspoken to be liked by everyone--indeed, to identify more with him is a kind of social suicide. But then, Thoreau was ever convinced that he was not here to please anybody, but rather to be authentically what he was.
To find a modern western man who so thoroughly embodies the wisdom of antiquity is as rare as "the tooth of a dragon, or the hair of a phoenix." Henry David Thoreau is such a man. More than a mere combination of past, present and future, he joins together the most mundane, prosaic and ordinary considerations of daily life with the loftiest and noble thoughts of mankind. Furthermore, he perceives the spiritual aspirations and practices of east and west as one coherent whole. He was well acquainted with the classics of both hemispheres--The Tao de Ching, The Bhagavad-gita, Vedic writings, The Iliad and more--and here, distilled for us common folk, is that wisdom as seen from the his viewpoint. Bertrand Russell has given what would seem the crown laurel to Thoreau calling him "a pure romantic"-in contrast to the weak romanticism of Victor Hugo, or the rather soft variety found in Emerson.
During his lifetime, 700 or so of the 1,000 copies he had printed of "Walden" wound up in his parents' attic, ostensibly making him a failure as a writer. Since then he has become a literary god, and without doubt one of the most influential writers of the past 200 years. It was Thoreau's tract entitled Civil Disobedience, written because of his objection to paying tax to the American government--a so-called democracy involved in slave trade, westward expansion, displacement of indigenous population and imperialistic annexation of Mexico--that gave fuel to human rights movements in the 20th Century. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. based their efforts on this small but amazingly powerful essay, which only goes to show that Confucius--one of Thoreau's favorite sage authors--was right; the thought of an intelligent man sitting in his room can kill a king and destroy his country. And so it was that slavery was abolished in the United States, India attained home rule and racial integration in the U.S. progressed.
Since the industrial revolution in the 18th Century, the central goal of western technological society has been economic growth. And to achieve an economic growth that is endless, corporations in the latter half of the 20th century have encouraged consumption that is mindless. But by the dawn of the 21st century, this central project has proven to be obsolete, for nature cannot sustain endless economic growth, and neither can the people in general. Nature has rebelled by refusing to absorb the transgressions against her dignity (pollution), and humanity has expressed insurgence through psychological and physical disease. Dr. Willis Harman has discussed the matter in detail in his book, "Global Mind Change" but, though more than a decade has passed since its publication, the important and timely points that it makes have yet to be assimilated by the public. Thoreau, however, was already tuned in to this problem way back in the 1840's. Astrologers attribute an overlap of a little more than 200 years between astrological ages, and this puts Thoreau in with the new Aquarians.
His observations--on economy, simplicity, learning, human nature, participation mystique when close to nature and the close proximity of God--are unpresuming, candid and at times downright hilarious. I say Henry David Thoreau is a philosopher sage amongst the American transcendentalists, and a man who was not unconcerned about his less educated or enlightened fellows. He took tremendous pains to share himself with us through his writings, and there are many innovations of his that are already being practiced by posterity. Not the least of these is the growing awareness that ADULT EDUCATION for men and women can be a lifelong pursuit. I agree with Dr. Harman that this is on its way to becoming the new central project of western society, known as it is presently by the name, The Personal Growth Movement.
In Walden the seeker will find lucid clues as to what the Aquarian Age is all about, its characteristics and even the means of cultivating the new consciousness. But this is not a book for people who like easy reading. Henry would demand of you that you read it with the same diligence and deliberation as it was written. It took him five years of refinement before he was satisfied with the manuscript. Walden will provide you and your descendants with many more years of pleasure and enlightenment than that.
am 23. Juni 1999
Henry David Thoreau is, was and will always be one of the "deepest" authors, who has ever published his works. Partly boring, due to his explanations of nature and its'surroundings, Thoreau is nevertheless able to write gripping stories in his explanations. Some particular passages will be worth to remember: I went to the woods, to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Everybody who was attracted by these lines should read Robert Frost as well!!
am 19. Mai 2005
This work of Thoreau is one of the deepest writings I have ever read. Reading it once is definitly not enough, though it might at times seem boring. Reading secondary sources of criticism (there are enough) gives you even more insight. Thoreau as a disciple of Emerson can NEVER quite get away from the latter's influence. Therefore it is advisable to first read Emerson's _Nature_, "Self-Reliance" and "Uses of Great Men", before starting with _Walden_. Another helpful piece of advise is to take a look at a map of Massachussetts at that time, where everything was located, and of course getting as much information as possible on antebellum America. With all this information in the back of one's head it is impossible not to enjoy reading _Walden_.
am 27. April 2009
Ist zwar streckenweise etwas ermüdend, aber wenn man sich auf den langsamen Darstellungs-Fluss (und den dahinter liegenden Lebensstil) einlassen kann, dann ist das ein sehr wertvolles Buch. Die Themen, die hier behandelt werden, sind zeitlos und auch aktuell sehr wichtig: Was ist wirklich wichtig im (Zusammen-) Leben? Welche Rolle kann und soll ich in der Gesellschaft spielen? Was lasse ich mir vorschreiben und wann schalte ich besser meinen eigenen Kopf ein? Wieviel Konsum muss sein? Was bleibt mir,wenn ich den Konsum möglichst weit runterschraube? Welche BBedeutung hat / sollte die Natur in meinem Leben haben? etcetc.
am 14. März 2015
langatmig, umständlich, schwärmerisch, und zum Teil Jammern auf hohem Niveau. So habe ich das Buch empfunden, obwohl ich vorher schon viel gutes und interessantes darüber gelesen hatte und dachte, es ist ein MUSS, das Buch mal gelesen zu haben. Insbesondere, wenn man weiß, dass Thoreau jederzeit zu "seiner Mama" in die Zivilisation ist, wenn man er was brauchte, kommt es einem ein bisschen verlogen vor.
Ein paar gute Ideen, die einen zum Nachdenken bringen, sind natürlich schon dabei.