Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Literary Surprise

Well, I finished Walden, and you know what? It actually turned out to be pretty good. Really good, in fact. I have to admit, those first 60 or 70 pages were tremendously hard to get through. Thoreau's language is pretty flowery, and he was just talking about his theories, which got pretty boring at times.

But, then I got to "How I Lived and What I Lived For", which is where he starts actually describing his life on the pond, and it got much more interesting. His appreciation for nature is remarkable, so simple descriptions of a battle between red ants and black ants, or the return of the geese in the spring really bring these events to life.

Plus, once I got past the beginning, his theories of life were a little more mixed in and palatable (although I still find him irritating at times. He believed philanthropy was a waste of time. How ironic when frequently throughout his life, he himself was the beneficiary.) He had some interesting comments on the destruction of the woods and vegetarianism, for example.

So, to my friends who have tried Walden and given up, I recommend trying again, but start with "Where I Lived and What I Lived For". If it hadn't been for the library giving me a due date, I don't know if I would have gotten past the first part. But it was actually worth it.

I leave you with a quote from Thoreau's conclusion:

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest...It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.


craftosaurus said...

Hmm, that's an interesting quote. Glad to hear that powering through proved to be a good decision!

Lynn said...

Well, I guess I will give it another shot. Reading it is also a part of my new 101 list (read all books on bookshelf).

It's always a struggle for me to keep reading a book when the start of it sucks!

L said...

Glad you like the quote, craftosaurus!

Lynn, like I said, you might want to start reading in the middle. I don't normally recommend that, but it's not like you need the beginning to set up the plot or anything. Then later you can go back and read Thoreau's theories from the start.

Michelle said...

Those first 60 or 70 pages just came off to me like poetic internet ranting, which irritated me enough to set the book down. Maybe I'll give it another shot.