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The Daily Henry David Thoreau: A Year of Quotes from the Man Who Lived in Season

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posted on 2022-05-20, 00:00 authored by Laura Dassow Walls
Modernity rules our lives by clock and calendar, dividing the stream of time into units and coordinating every passing moment with the universal globe. Henry David Thoreau subverted both clock and calendar, using them not to regulate time’s passing but to open up and explore its presence. This little volume thus embodies, in small compass, Thoreau’s own ambition to “live in season”—to turn with the living sundial of the world, and, by attuning ourselves to nature, to heal our modern sense of discontinuity with our surroundings. Ralph Waldo Emerson noted with awe that from flowers alone, Thoreau could tell the calendar date within two days; children remembered long into adulthood how Thoreau showed them white waterlilies awakening not by the face of a clock but at the first touch of the sun. As Thoreau wrote in *Walden*, “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.” Drawn from the full range of Thoreau’s journals and published writings, and arranged according to season, *The Daily Henry David Thoreau* allows us to discover the endless variation and surprise to be found in the repetitions of mundane cycles. Thoreau saw in the kernel of each day an earth enchanted, one he honed into sentences tuned with an artist’s eye and a musician’s ear. Thoreau’s world lives on in his writing so that we, too, may discover, even in a fallen world, a beauty worth defending.


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University of Chicago Press

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