Talk:Henry David Thoreau

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Thoreau family and the Sewall family[edit]

On June 17, 1839, according to The log of 1839:

Edmund Sewall arrives in Concord with his mother to visit his grandmother, the Thoreaus’ boarder, Mrs. Joseph Ward. Over the next several days, Thoreau takes him sailing on the Concord River, hiking to the Cliffs, and to Walden Pond (The Days of Henry David Thoreau, 77).

It is weird synth for the article to describe the five days eleven-year-old Edmund Sewall stayed with Thoreau's family as five days of hiking for Sewall with HDT. In fact, young Sewall wrote his own extended account of his five days of exploring Concord with John Thoreau as well as with HDT--and his journal of those days can be read online.

The "Sexuality" section of this article should say more about Thoreau's relationships with women. Until I fixed it myself, it did not even mention his proposal of marriage to Edmund's sister. It still doesn't mention his proposal from Sophia Ford. Louisa May Alcott who took walks in the woods with Thoreau when she was a teenager, modeled romantic heroes in several of her books on Thoreau, although there's no evidence he returned her feelings at all. Here's to an NPOV and accurate-as-we-can-make it "Sexuality" section. HouseOfChange (talk) 19:11, 22 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Influence section needs a rewrite[edit]

Better organization could make it clearer. It makes little sense to include the current laundry list of "influencees," most with no RS supporting their inclusion.

Let's also break down the "influence," separating Thoreau's contemporaries from later generations. That seems more clear-cut than separating it into transcendentalism, nature writing, and political thought. What do others think? HouseOfChange (talk) 00:31, 27 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Call for discussion of "anarchist" claims about Thoreau[edit]

Its embarrassing that the intro paragraphs includes a witless and ignorant misreading of Thoreaus government is best that governs least... when I see that as "evidence" that he is an anarchist, I know without a doubt that anyone that believes that has NEVER READ A SINGLE BOOK OR ARTICLE BY THOREAU. And they have no right to edit his wiki page.

Thoreau's writing uses a lot of poetical devices like irony and provocation. He isn't writing a dry science book where he creates an equation of "zero government=best government" which is frankly an embarrassing and pathetic interpertation. It is a provocative way of saying that he doesn't believe in an invasive government that tries to run your life, that comes into your home and regulates how much water you use, etc. He believed in individuality and people coming to ethical decisions upon themselves, he was against group think, churches, and so on, telling people in an ideological sense of what to believe. That by no means he believes in a radical and really untenable position of literally no government.

When people mock wikipedia as an unreliable source, THIS is what they are talking about. Whoever keeps editing in he was an anarchist is an ideologically minded fool who is trying to appropriate popular historical figures to be on their side, and they cherry pick quotes that out of context can be intreated as such. That isn't how you read literature nor is it his meaning.

I'm deleting it. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask me. I studied Thoreau at university under one of the internationally leading experts on Thoreau. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:52, 28 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You clearly have a strong opinion about this, but that's not sufficient to justify deleting this material. Do you have any reliable citations to back up your claim that Thoreau was not trying to express genuine anarchist opinions, but was merely concerned about "an invasive government... that comes into your home and regulates how much water you use" when he wrote the following to lead off his most famous essay?:
I heart­ily accept the motto, — “That gov­ern­ment is best which gov­erns least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rap­idly and sys­tem­at­i­cally. Car­ried out, it fi­nally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That gov­ern­ment is best which gov­erns not at all;” and when men are pre­pared for it, that will be the kind of gov­ern­ment which they will have. Gov­ern­ment is at best but an ex­pe­di­ent; but most gov­ern­ments are usu­ally, and all gov­ern­ments are some­times, in­ex­pe­di­ent. The ob­jec­tions which have been brought against a stand­ing army, and they are many and weighty, and de­serve to pre­vail, may also at last be brought against a stand­ing gov­ern­ment.
Also, please sign your comments here so we know whose opinions we're reading. —Moorlock (talk) 04:10, 28 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with the IP (who is not me) that the lead gives too great an emphasis to Thoreau's "anarchism." Thoreau's nature writing, his literary influence, his abolitionism, the political influence of his civil disobedience -- the lead treats all these briefly, in summary form, but his possible "anarchism" gets a whole paragraph, in final position to boot. Per MOS:LEAD "The lead should identify the topic and summarize the body of the article with appropriate weight." That lengthy quote, including Thoreau's disclaimer, should perhaps be in the body of the article, but not in the lead. I also question the appropriateness of the obtrusive "Libertarian" sidewalls near the top of the article. HouseOfChange (talk) 04:38, 28 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]