05 October 2013

For the Student of American Literature

This from Sherman Paul's bio of Thoreau, The Shores of America:
That Thoreau meant what he said...His militancy was spiritual; one feels his attempt to rally his forces for the service of some high end, to surmount difficulties, to measure his faith by the ardor of striving--he sought the infinite.  Not yet the devoted student of nature, he was the seeker of another world....The otherworldly strain was prominent, always thereafter to give his utterance on actual life its unrelenting edge; for his universe, which soon took shape in terms of sound and silence and light and dark, had the absolute polarity of Hawthorne's temporal and spiritual of Melville's Chronometricals and Horologicals--and the youthful Thoreau was as much an artist of the beautiful as he was a Pierre.
This is almost dizzyingly delicious--imagining a Thoreau as much a fiction as Pierre and Hawthorne's Owen Warland.  Or, rather, that the fiction is a truth.

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