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Utopias of One$
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Joshua Kotin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196541

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196541.001.0001

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Learning from Walden

Learning from Walden

(p.17) Chapter One Learning from Walden
Utopias of One

Joshua Kotin

Princeton University Press

This chapter concerns the pedagogy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854). When Thoreau moved to Walden Pond on July 4, 1845, his goal was to maximize his independence. America, from his perspective, had failed. To maximize his independence, Thoreau radically reduced the size of his world. He minimized his social and financial obligations, and chose to live in an artificially circumscribed environment. He also developed a practice of writing and rewriting that refined his perception of his environment. Writing became an instrument of attentiveness and suppression—a way to improve his vision and restrict its range. At Walden and in Walden there was little or no conflict between receptivity and sovereignty. Thoreau could be open to his surroundings and in control—vulnerable and secure. This was the beginning of Thoreau's utopia of one: a world small enough to be received in its entirety.

Keywords:   Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Walden Pond, independence, self-culture

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