Henry David Thoreau Knew that Freedom Is Love

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• fee.org by Jeffrey A. Tucker

he great classic of naturalist philosophy, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, is a fascinating book in so many ways: tremendously beautiful, personal, insightful, and moving.

Thoreau was born 1817 and died 1862. He was an author, poet, anarchist, and abolitionist who wrote more than 20 volumes of essays. He made his home in Massachusetts and attended Harvard. He came to Walden to live after working in his parent’s pencil factory, to which he returned after leaving Walden. He made several patented improvements in the pencil.

It is easy to understand why Walden has become part of the modern canon and why so many generations have benefited from it. But in order to comprehend its meaning, it is best to think of it as a work of aesthetics not policy, a personal reflection and not a political program, one that teaches about the merit of work, patience, close observation, and the loveliness of the order around us that we neither design nor finally control.