”I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself.”
Henry David Thoreau was not an instant success. The publisher of his first book returned just over 700 unsold volumes to Thoreau. Now on the other hand, Thoreau is an author, philosopher, and naturalist of international reclaim.
From reading Walden, probably Thoreau’s most popular book, I remember pondering how he made ends meet. He continued to work for his family’s pencil factory and was under the inspiring wing of Emerson with jobs as tutor for Emerson’s sons and gardener. In addition, Thoreau chose to live a simpler life spending two years in a self-built hut on the bank of Walden Pond.
I believe, that Thoreau, who lived from 1817 – 1862, in many ways was out of the ordinary. His yearning for a simpler living was not brought about by famine, economic ruin, or a lawman, close on his trail as many of the new comers in America, during the period. Thoreau in some ways existed in his own Concord bubble. In other ways, he was intellectual active on governmental and political issues, speaking against slave legislation, The Mexican War, and taxes – among other issues.
He was prolific in his writing, including his journals. His thoughts of simpler living are inspirational and here I find his classic features. Walden captures the zeit geist of today.
Thoreau died at an early age and on his deathbed, an aunt asked him if he had made his peace with God. Thoreau is reported to answer,
“I did not know we had ever quarreled.”