Walden as a Prototype for the Nonfiction Genre

Henry Thoreau’s Walden is often classified as a philosophical autobiography recounting his two-year experience living in a woodland outside Concord, Massachusetts. Residing in a tiny cabin overlooking Walden Pond, Thoreau spent his days observing nature, meeting travelers, baking bread and planting seeds. The importance of Walden lies in Thoreau’s unique philosophical perspective and connection to Nature . When Thoreau was not visiting, he was walking through the woods, dissecting what people called progress. At the time, the very young country was experiencing growing pains, expanding into a commercial empire that bothered Thoreau. He did not like seeing his fellow countrymen enslaving themselves through an illusive conquest of material gain. This type of industrial progress, Thoreau believed, led “a mass of men to lead lives of quiet desperation” (6). Thoreau wished to escape this scene and divest himself of material things and live a humble existence. For him, the acquisition of material objects acted as a corrupter, polluting humanity and acting as a barrier to the beauty of the natural world. He did not want to “live what was not life” (85). In his own words, Thoreau wrote that he went to the woods “to live deliberately,...

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