Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Author for October: Henry David Thoreau

I have a room all to myself: it is nature. Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau is our author for October 2010. The collection of essays entitled Walden is the primary selection but members can read any of his writings that have to do with nature. Reading excerpts is a good way to get a taste of his ideas, personality, and philosophy in easily digested bits. Opening Walden to any page and reading one paragraph each day can work too. The book does not have to be read in order. Good chapters to start with are "The Pond in Winter" and "Spring."

For the ultimate in-depth experience, see if you can get your hands on the acclaimed annotated version of Walden, edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer, who is curator of collections at the Henley Library of the Thoreau Institute. (Click on book cover at left to link for more information.)

Encouraged by mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau became a dedicated journal -keeper. Works he intended for publication were inspired by and fashioned from his in-the-moment journal entries. Portions of Thoreau's voluminous journals (7000 pages)have been published in recent years and these are a illuminating window into his way of experiencing the world and capturing his thoughts. (Look for A Year in Thoreau's Journal:1851 or I to Myself, annotated journal excerpts edited by the same Mr. Cramer mentioned above.)

Thoreau's perception of the relationships within nature is often called the foundation of ecology. He is considered one of the most powerful voices for environmental preservation. He was also one of the first naturalists in North America to apply the principles in the controversial Origin of the Species by his contemporary Charles Darwin.

Many devotees of today's simplicity movement pay homage to Thoreau. He was prescient--he saw where unrestrained "progress," technology and materialism would lead and what devastating toll these trends had already taken on the natural world in his lifetime.

Perhaps Thoreau's work will inspire you to look at nature in a different way, or even do more nature journaling. Please jot down your thoughts and responses to share at our next meeting in late October. Members will be notifed of the time and place by email. Prospective new members should email pvnaturewriters@gmail.com for details.

Read Thoreau's writings online (Including Walden)

The Walden Woods and Thoreau Institute:

Thoreau nature quotes:

Scientists use Thoreau's journals to study climate change: