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 It was his Americanism which drove Thoreau to realize himself in his own way. In 1854, Thoreau published the book by which he will always be best known, Walden, or life in the woods. It is by far the deepest, richest, and most closely jointed of his books. It shows Thoreau at his best, and contains ail that he had to say to the world. In fact, he is a man of one book, and that book is Walden. In plan, it is open to the same objection as A Week, and might almost plead guilty to the charge of obtaining a hearing under false pretences. ‘Life in the woods’ suggests the atmosphere of As you like it and the Robin Hood ballads, but not moralizings on economy and the duty of being yourself. The reader who takes up the book with the idea that he is going to enjoy another Robinson Crusoe will not be pleased to find that every now and then he will have to listen to a lay sermon, or a lyceum lecture. Still it is the adventurous, Robinson Crusoe part that is imperishable. How a man resolved to live in a new way, how he borrowed an axe and began felling pines on the ground that sloped southward to a wonderful pond, how he trimmed his rafters, dug his cellar, bought an Irish labourer's shanty, transported the materials to a new site and raised the frame, appeal to the open-air instinct of every man. Even how he maintained the fire on the hearth, and grubbed out the fat pine roots to feed it, are matters of absorbing interest. His struggle with the weeds and poor soil of the two-acre patch on which he raised his beans and potatoes, every item of his various accounts, his food, his daily routine, his house-cleaning, have the fascination of a narrative by Defoe. The reader follows the solitary in his swim across the lake, or through the wood to the village, or about the hut, or along the rows of beans, with a zest he can hardly explain to himself. The reason is that Henry Thoreau in Walden wood is the same as the mariner of York on the Island of Desolation; he represents once more the struggle of primitive man to obtain food and shelter, in fact the epic of civilization. The interest of the theme is perennial. Walden is also the memorial of an American faun, of a wild man who lived in the woods, who carried an umbrella like Robinson Crusoe, to weatherfend his head, and used a microscope to study insects with. About the same time, just after
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