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"Although his writings would later receive widespread acclaim, Thoreau's ideas were not universally applauded by some of his contemporaries in literary circles. Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau's endorsement of living alone and apart from modern society in natural simplicity to be a mark of "unmanly" effeminacy and "womanish solitude", while deeming him a self-indulgent "skulker."[79] Nathaniel Hawthorne was also critical of Thoreau, writing that he "repudiated all regular modes of getting a living, and seems inclined to lead a sort of Indian life among civilized men."[80][81] In a similar vein, poet John Greenleaf Whittier detested what he deemed to be the "wicked" and "heathenish" message of Walden, decreeing that Thoreau wanted man to "lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs."[82]

"In response to such criticisms, English novelist George Eliot, writing for the Westminster Review, characterized such critics as uninspired and narrow-minded:

'People—very wise in their own eyes—who would have every man's life ordered according to a particular pattern, and who are intolerant of every existence the utility of which is not palpable to them, may pooh-pooh Mr. Thoreau and this episode in his history, as unpractical and dreamy.[83]'"

Henry David Thoreau - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
madman101
Apr. 29th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC)
i recall reading that wiki bio on thoreau

it may not be untrue, but thoreau and stevenson actually had tremendous respect and admiration for each other - they were friends of a distant sort

just like today, men in those days were blindly trying to figure things out, and there were disagreements every which way

many wiki articles have been edited by writers hired by cato institute, heritage foundation, etc., to favour certain political slants. this is fact. so, some rewriting of history may have occurred here, as well. thoreau has influenced every great "civil-disobedience" leader of succeeding times, and i can see how they would want to discredit him.

but, being fair to history, it was shelley, and others, who influenced thoreau. the frustrating thing about history is that people want to make it a single absolute view. that is in dscord with true diverse nature. study "history" honestly all one's life and one can never finally pin down what is true or such.

our own lives are already a handful. so, i hope this has been of relevance to you, faithful doubter.
cathy_edgett
Apr. 29th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC)
I love George Eliot and her ability to look at the whole. In my opinion, her book Middlemarch is a masterpiece.

Thoreau gave us inspirational writing. Does the fact that he took his laundry home to his mother take away from that? Not in my opinion.

We can each absorb his words in our own way. Many of us are given what we need, and I believe that is ultimately the point, to make a discovery for ourselves, and then offer it, with the understanding that another may or may not benefit, but we have shared what matters to and what changes us.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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