Monday, April 23, 2007

Significant Sentences: Walden.

Significant Sentences: Walden, or, Life in the Woods
Henry David Thoreau
New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.
1854 (1985).

Summary from Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia. 1987, p. 1041:
Convinced that ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,’ Thoreau lived alone in a cabin at Walden Pond, outside Concord, New Hampshire, from 1845 to 1847. His aim was to ‘front only the essential facts of life,’ to emancipate himself from slavery to material possessions. After giving these reasons for his experiment, Thoreau goes on to describe his observations and habits at Walden Pond, where he watched the seasons unfold. He does not encourage everyone to live in the woods, but rather, urges that life be simplified so that its meaning may become clear.

Writing. “I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life.” p. 325.

Humanity. “He has no time to be anything but a machine.” p. 327.

Slave Driver. “It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave driver of yourself.” p. 328.

Fate. “What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines…his fate.” p. 329.

“…unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.” p. 329.

Today’s Truth. “What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be a falsehood tomorrow.” p. 329.

“What old people say you cannot do you try and find that you can.” p. 329.

“…life is an experiment….” p. 330.

“But man’s capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what we can do by any precedents, so little has been tried.” p. 330.

Generations. “One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels.” p. 331.

True Knowledge. “Confucius said, ‘To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.’ ” p. 331.

“The necessaries of life for man in this climate may, accurately enough, be distributed under several heads of food, shelter, clothing and fuel, for not till we have secured these are we prepared to entertain the true problems of life with freedom and a prospect of success.” p. 332.

Luxuries. “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” p. 334.

Irony. “And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be for the house that has got him.” p. 349.

Spring. “They were pleasant spring days in which the winter of man’s discontent was thawing as well as the earth.” p. 355.

To be continued.

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