Today I had the opportunity to read “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau. I also read the beginning portion of “Walden” titled “Economy”. This was the first I had read of Thoreau’s works and I must say that I am impressed. I had my expectations set extremely high for the author we have all heard such wonderful things about. He met my expectations with ease. The manner of his prose flows like a river with little turbulence. I was shocked at the level of free-spiritedness that he represents. For this reason I find it difficult not to compare him to Whitman, the ultimate free-spirit. I see much semblance between the two. The “less is more” ideology that both of them share. The egotism and lack of humility, worse in Whitman but still present in Thoreau. Thoreau was more formally educated and it reflects into his works. Whitman’s prose is a bit more loose but not the least bit less enjoyable. Whitman is more open about sexuality, while I haven’t seen Thoreau make mention of it yet. This in itself shows a difference in motives. Whitman is much more romantic. Every time I put down “Leaves of Grass” I’m nearly laughing or crying or both. “Walden” has a different effect. It makes me ask myself if I have been doing things all wrong thus far. If I should adopt his way of thinking. A mood of agreement and yet wonder. I understand that I’m comparing apples to oranges with “Walden” and “Leaves of Grass” but something about them seems so similar but both are so uniquely different. I can not say who I prefer more yet. I will continue reading Walden and update as I go.
“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” – Henry David Thoreau