Study Guide

Henry David Thoreau Writing Walden

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Writing Walden

Emerson's invitation gave Thoreau a chance to act on some ideas he had been mulling over. He was mystified by the modern world's urgent rush to consume and industrialize. Why did people insist on buying new clothes every year when the old ones were perfectly good? Why were people so eager for new roads and trains, when they didn't even need to get anywhere? "Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things," he wrote. "We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine to Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate."

Thoreau also wrote prolifically while he was living on the pond. He had started a book called A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, an account of a boating trip he and his late brother took in 1839. He also began penning the memoir of his experiment on the pond. In 1847 Thoreau moved out of the cabin and into Emerson's house, where he took up handyman duties. The cabin was later dismantled and its boards carted away to be used for a shed.

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