In the 1890s a group of admirers who had not known Thoreau personally but who had been affected by his writings began actively to promote him.
When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. (Walden, 3) With these words, Henry David Thoreau began the tale of his experiment of simple living at Walden Pond.
Over the course of the next three hundred-odd pages, Thoreau outlined his philosophy of life, politics, and nature, laying the foundation for a secure place in the canon of great American writers.
Thoreau's words expressed the concerns of many of his contemporaries as industrialization and war permanently altered the world around them, just as they struck a chord in a generation of young people in the 1960s and 1970s who opposed the modern military-industrial complex and sought peace and simplicity in their lives. In the years following Thoreau's death in 1862, his sister and his friends undertook the responsibility of editing his work. The site he picked was on land belonging to his close friend Ralph Waldo Emerson; he and Emerson had already discussed Thoreau's plan to live on the land which Emerson had recently purchased.
Posthumous editions of his previously unpublished or partially published works were produced by Ticknor & Fields and Houghton Mifflin, and articles about Thoreau and reviews of his writings appeared in newspapers and magazines. By July 4 of that same year, the house was substantially complete and Thoreau moved to the pond. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Although Walden enjoyed only moderate success in Thoreau's lifetime, his experiment at the pond would spark considerable interest in the years to come. None suffices to represent Thoreau by itself; all find support in Walden.
The book has inspired other young people to follow his example and retire to a lonely spot--even if only in imagination--to ponder the world and their place in it. In late March 1845 Thoreau went to Walden Pond, a sixty-two acre body of water a few miles from his parents' home in Concord, Massachusetts, and selected a spot to build a house.He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.Howarth (1973-1979), and Elizabeth Witherell (1980-present), the project, The Writings of Henry D.Thoreau, has published fourteen of its projected thirty-volume series with Princeton University Press.Thoreau's life and work have continued to provoke and inspire, and there are almost as many different opinions as there are readers. (Walden, 90) He also went to the pond to work on a book that was to be a memorial tribute to his older brother John, who had died three years earlier of lockjaw.Which view of Thoreau is most accurate: The dour hermit of Walden Woods? The narrative frame of the story is provided by a boat trip the brothers had taken in 1839, but there are many philosophical digressions. He began collecting material to write lectures for his curious townsmen, and he delivered two at the Concord Lyceum, on February 10 and 17, 1847.Beginning in the 1930s, interest in Thoreau began to rise markedly.Henry Seidel Canby's 1939 biography, Thoreau, reached the best-seller lists.During the same period, though, the town made it possible for some of the land around the pond to be developed.When the door to development opened, two projects were proposed: a large office building and a condominium complex.