What a thoughtful reading of this interesting passage, Kira! The manuscript page below and the two that follow it show Thoreau’s draft in the A version:
These images are from HM 924, The Manuscript of Walden, in the Huntington Library Digital Collection.
And here are the relevant images from Versions E and F.
Reflecting on “Visitors” as Thoreau developed it between 1846 and 1854, there is a conscious effort to celebrate those individuals on the farthest vestiges of society– not unlike Thoreau himself– and to portray them in a favorable light. He suggests different types of genius in different ways of life, and doesn’t deign to place the value of one genius over another. Thoreau’s ear is impartial. He listens to everyone and everything with equal consideration. The only criticism he offers is of those whose opinions are most often trusted unequivocally by society: ministers, doctors, lawyers, and housewives. There is no reason their words should hold more weight than anyone else’s. In fact, we should doubt their opinions most of all.
Thoreau was a mite more critical of society in earlier versions of “Visitors”– he omits a dramatic passage from the original manuscript, wherein two young women fail to return the water dipper they borrowed from him, and he writes them off as “pariahs of the moral world.” The original ending of “Visitors” were the lines: “these are the folks that worry the man / that lives in the house that I built”, which is a rather pessimistic reaction to society. In later versions, he tailors this chapter around the surprising wisdom we stand to gain from genuine interactions with all people, especially those who are overlooked by society. At this time, Thoreau also helped harbor escaped slaves on their journey to freedom in Canada. Although this occurred for the most part at his parent’s house in Concord (because the house at Walden Pond was too small), he transposes this event to “Visitors”, commenting on the extent of his empathy almost ten years before the Civil War.
October 25, 2021 at 8:34 pm
Posted in: General Discussion
See in context
October 25, 2021 at 8:30 pm
[It is now many years that men have resorted to the forest for fuel and the materials of the arts;]
September 1, 2021 at 5:43 pm
[Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.]
I wonder if T may be suggesting a deeper sense of ‘reading,’ perhaps related to the concept of reading put forward by Simone Weil in her “Essay on the Notion of Reading.”
September 1, 2021 at 5:09 pm
Yes, Allison. For a time, we lived on the shores of Lake Champlain: Cumberland Head, north of Plattsburgh, NY. Once, as we returned home from a long trip on an extremely cold winter night (-15 F), we were stopped in our tracks by a loud, eerie, and most unsettling sound. The entire lake was groaning and wailing, evoking in us a sense of utter desolation—mournful and fearsome—as great cracks ripped through the ice, shooting out for miles; as if some impossibly great beast was suffering its last agony; a doleful, primeval utterance, quite beyond anything we had heard before. There is simply nothing like it.
August 30, 2021 at 12:17 pm
Posted in: Emerson-Thoreau SUNY Geneseo
Although one of the main reasons for Thoreau’s going to Walden Pond was to see the spring come in, he does not restrict himself to life in the spring only. Winter has its own virtues. New views from the surface of the firmly frozen ice are the souvenir of winter for Thoreau — and for us.
Ali (Thoreau’s friend in Iran)
August 30, 2021 at 11:30 am
Regarding “forms” and the difference between Rabbits and Hares, according to Wikipedia:
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares are classified in the same family as rabbits. They are similar in size to rabbits and have similar herbivorous diets, but generally have longer ears and live solitarily or in pairs. They do not dig burrows, but nest in slight depressions called forms, often in long grass. Also unlike rabbits, their young are able to fend for themselves shortly after birth rather than emerging blind and helpless. Most are fast runners.
February 20, 2021 at 1:15 pm
Posted in: SNHUmans
February 20, 2021 at 1:13 pm
Well said, Ainsley. Given that he had TB and financial constraints, he lived that advice.
February 18, 2021 at 8:52 pm
This paragraph also discusses, as I mentioned in one of my earlier comments, Thoreau’s philosophy and how it intertwines with nature. He states that no matter what your life is like, you do not give up and reject it and complain about it. Thoreau believes the way to live your best life with what you are given is to face your problems head on instead of ignoring them because they will only continue to develop and get worse. Thoreau states things don’t change; we do. While you may be stuck with things and situations, you yourself are not stuck if you change your thinking.
February 18, 2021 at 8:47 pm
This paragraph was super important in the sense that Thoreau’s safe place, his favorite location with his favorite sounds and scents of the trees and waters and animals, became a feeling of normalcy. When Thoreau first moved into the woods, he was in awe of everything around him, and took in everything he possibly could. However, after having the same surroundings and doing the same things day after day, Thoreau was no longer satisfied in this lifestyle he had created. He states that he thought he had more lives to live, and I think that by this he means he has very different experiences ahead of him. While the woods offered and taught Thoreau so much, he can only experience so much inside of the woods, and he realized that he had gained everything he could from this experience and it was time to move on.
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