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Download Thoreau's Ecstatic Witness by Alan D. Hodder PDF

By Alan D. Hodder

Whilst Henry David Thoreau died in 1862, neighbors and admirers remembered him as an eccentric guy whose outer lifestyles used to be continually fed via deeper religious currents. yet students have in view that centred virtually completely on Thoreau's literary, political, and clinical contributions. This booklet deals the 1st in-depth research of Thoreau's spiritual proposal and adventure. In it Alan D. Hodder recovers the misplaced religious size of the writer's lifestyles, revealing a deeply non secular guy who, regardless of his rejection of organised faith, possessed a wealthy internal existence, characterized via a type of private, experiential, nature-centered, and eclectic spirituality that unearths wider expression in the USA at the present time. on the middle of Thoreau's existence have been episodes of pleasure in nature that he normally often called his ecstasies. Hodder explores those representations of ecstasy all through Thoreau's writings, from the riverside reflections of his first e-book via Walden and the later journals, whilst he conceived of his magazine writing as a religious self-discipline in itself and one of those discussion board during which to domesticate reports of contemplative non-attachment. In doing so, Hodder restores to our knowing the deeper religious size of Thoreau's lifestyles to which his writings all over endure witness.

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This was a religion to him; to us, mythical. He spoke from a deeper conviction than ordinary, which enforced on him that sphere and rule of life he kept. ’’22 In view of the withering attacks on organized religion to which Emer- 16 INTRODUCTION son referred in his eulogy, it is not surprising that reviewers who knew nothing of Thoreau personally were less alert to this dimension of his life. And, needless to say, some found his pantheism, his evident paganism, and especially his admiration for Asian religious ideas revolting and blasphemous alike.

20 Such characterizations as this evidently provoked little protest among Emerson’s auditors in Concord’s Second Church on the day of Thoreau’s funeral. Only a few weeks before, Bronson Alcott, another Concord neighbor and one of Thoreau’s closest friends, had eulogized Thoreau in substantially the same terms in the Atlantic Monthly. ’’21 Another such contemporary presentation comes to us from Ellery Channing, another Concord neighbor and one of Thoreau’s regular walking companions, who in 1873 produced the first book-length biography of his friend.

Blake and Sanborn, in particular, often used the school as a vehicle to champion Thoreau as a kind of New England pastoral saint. One of the bestattended presentations of the first session, repeated several times in sub- INTRODUCTION 19 sequent years, was Blake’s ceremonial reading from Thoreau’s journals. 29 By the turn of the century, most of Thoreau’s closest friends and the members of his inner circle were dead. Only Frank Sanborn remained to propagate the religious image of Thoreau, and his treatments were often marred by an egregious tendency toward distortion and misrepresentation.

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