Books, classics, Non-Fiction, philosophy, Reviews

Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau

My Rating: 4/5

 

Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

This is a call for self-honesty and harmony with nature in the writings of Henry David Thoreau.

Walden was published in 1854 written during the reign of transcendentalists of which Thoreau was a central figure. Transcendental was a philosophical movement that was influenced by romanticism, Platonism and Kantian philosophy in which one must examine and analyse the reasoning process which governs the nature of experience. German philosopher Immanuel Kant developed the base idea for this movement.

The first chapters of Walden are the most interesting and need your attention as in these chapters Thoreau talks about simplicity. He rads against the frivolity of new clothes, meaty diets and other expenses. One of Thoreau’s major arguments in Walden is that men wouldn’t have to work for a living if they lived more simply. To which Thoreau built a house for under thirty dollars during a time when the average house and his records are shown in the book. By work, I think he meant that the kind of work that one does not wants to do.  For instance, reading book is a work to the mind. I can’t imagine a life with sitting with nothingness and not doing something I enjoy to do.

For two years Thoreau lived in that house. He spend time cultivating his beans and other crops, making bread, and fishing. With his house paid for and his food in good supply, he swam in Walden Pond, walked in the adjoining woods, wrote, daydreamed, reflected, and – rarely – visited the town.

What Thoreau points calls society constraints, I call them “society constraints” too. He thoroughly believed that most of life’s expenses were unnecessary and for one occasion was imprisoned for not paying taxes that he disagreed with. But there is a major difference between those constraints and your own constraints. You might get sense of freeing up from the society constraints while reading this book and you must do but do take care of not fleeing your own conscious mind as it holds all the self-constraints. These self-constraints differ for everyone but majority of them are same and we fail to recognise them since we are all entangled with society’s constraints which are a major reason for the complexity around us which we tend to inject in our work, our relationships and our expenses. This remind me of Eddie Vedder’s songSociety”. Do check it out.

To conclude this review, I would say you should read this book and along with Thoreau, start thinking about simplicity and “what” and “how” you can simplify various things around you.


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10 thoughts on “Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau”

  1. I read this book a number of years ago and yes it is worth reading at some point in a person’s life, but what interested me most is that it was written so long ago and yet it is still relevant today. Also, it is said that most people who follow a strict minimalist way of life, do so for about 2 years, as Thoreau did, before rejoining the human race, in some form or other, usually modern technology.

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    1. I agree, it had same effect on me when I read it. It seems so relevant. I see, an individual can learn a lot from minimalistic life and I like your idea of rejoining the social world. I see it as a pause in one way and a chance to refresh our soul.

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  2. Walden is a book I repair to again and again – simplify, simplify, simplify! It can surprise how little one actually needs. And the practice of considering what it it is one really wants generally leads me to decide I have enough!

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  3. I’m pleased to meet you. Thanks for visiting Under Western Skies (in January … I’m catching up). I’m glad to see Mr. Thoreau still garnering attention. It’s been decades since I read it. Perhaps time to read again. If I do, I’m going to pair it with reading more of Emerson, who I’ve scarcely skimmed, despite the fact that an American literature major should have done it ages ago. Keep reading.

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