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301 Reading Questions on Thorau's Walden, Textbook Excerpts

Be able to define the following vocabulary terms and apply them to the literature we read in class:

Vocabulary allusion, environmental writings, symbol, transcendentalism

Lecture Questions:
(1) What's the difference and what are the similarities between Transcendentalism and Romanticism?

Reading Questions:

  • Where is Walden Pond located?
  • How long did Thoreau live there?
  • What are some questions people asked Thoreau when he returned to civilization.
  • What was his goal in living alone in the wilderness?

Be able to identify the source of the following quotations and explain their significance:

(A) I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in.

(B) The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

(C) I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.

(D) I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life. . . .

(F) Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.

(G) If you would learn to speak all tongues and conform to the customs of all nations, if you would travel farther than all travelers, be naturalized in all climes, and cause the Sphinx to dash her bead against a stone, even obey the precept of the old philosopher, and Explore thyself. . . . Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.


Is American Transcendentalism really part of the same movement as Romanticism in Britain? Why?



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