U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Summers on Thoreau

John Summers, author of the excellent Every Fury on Earth, reviews a new edited collection of Thoreau at The New Republic. I thought it might be of interest to several of our readers. I love Summers’s concluding paragraph:

“But anyone reading these lines should check the impulse to feel superior. If Thoreau paid for his industrial exemption with disorientation, then the regularity and benignity of nature, the turn of the seasons, saved his equilibrum in the end, and warded off the self-estrangement so prominent in modern confessional writing. Today, private life is history, and day and night a distinction without a difference. For ages, the act of writing has seemed to authors like the experience of dreaming. But we are not likely to read anything like Thoreau’s journal again.”