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Author : Charles River Charles River Editors
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*Includes dozens of Thoreau's quotes. *Includes Emerson's article about Thoreau's life in the August 1862 edition of Atlantic Monthly. *Includes pictures of Thoreau and important people and places in his life. *Includes a Bibliography of Thoreau's works and works about him. "A living dog is better than a dead lion. Shall a man go and hang himself because he belongs to the race of pygmies, and not be the biggest pygmy that he can? Let every one mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made. Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." - Henry David Thoreau A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known. In the mid-19th century, Romantic literature was still in full bloom across the West, but some American authors began producing literature that, while still Romantic, was unique enough to be considered a different genre. This new genre, Transcendentalism, focused on the spirituality of the self and nature, not rejecting religion outright but concentrating on pragmatism and the importance of individuals as the spiritual center of the cosmos. In addition to drawing upon the Age of Enlightenment, Transcendentalist authors also utilized the philosophy of Plato, who taught that self-fulfillment through attaining knowledge should be an individual's ultimate goal. One of the most famous Transcendentalists, and possibly its most ardent practitioner, was Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). As a protégé of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau took the values of the movement to heart and was particularly interested in the interconnection between man and nature, writing in Walden, "Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." That famous work was Thoreau's account of his experience living for two years in a small cabin in a forest along the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1846, Thoreau was arrested for failing to pay taxes, which was based on his opposition to slavery and other ways the government spent taxpayers' money. After being freed, he gave a lecture about the roles of governments and individuals in society, which eventually became the famous essay "Civil Disobedience." In addition to rejecting any government "which is the slave's government also," Thoreau famously advocated "the majority of one," calling upon people to break unjust laws. As fate would have it, Thoreau's message of civil disobedience has resonated more than any of his other Transcendentalist values, and it had a profound influence on the philosophy and nonviolent protests of activists like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. American Legends: The Life of Henry David Thoreau looks at the life and work of Thoreau, and it examines his ideology and the Transcendentalist movement. Along with pictures of important people and places, you will learn about Thoreau like you never have before, in no time at all.