Your average English major of the past decade has decided to dismiss the body of Henry David Thoreau’s work with one scandalous factoid: Thoreau’s mother did his laundry. For some reason, even the well-read think that this is a relevant fact, as if his dependence on friends and family cancelled out his transcendental conclusions.
But you don’t have to be a die-hard Thoreauvian to see the problem with this mama’s-boy attack. Though my dog-eared Walden perpetually floats to the top of my bedside stack, it is not out of blind respect for the Father of Chill that I defend the guy. My only claim to allegiance is that I read his book.
One Richard Smith of the Thoreau Society has my back:
Richard Smith, a die-hard Thoreauvian.
It should be obvious to anyone who’s read Walden that Thoreau was not a hermit. Just the chapter called “Visitors” is…
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