Here is the first history of the Massachusetts pond Thoreau made famous 150 years ago. W. Barksdale Maynard offers a lively and comprehensive account of Walden Pond from the early nineteenth century to the present. From Thoreau's first visit at age 4 in 1821--"That woodland vision for a long time made the drapery of my dreams"--to present day efforts both to conserve the pond and allow public access, Maynard captures Walden Pond's history and the role it has played in social, cultural, literary, and environmental movements in America. Along the way Maynard details the geography of the pond; Thoreau's and Emerson's experiences of Walden over their lifetimes; the development of the cult of Thoreau and the growth of the pond as a site of literary and spiritual pilgrimages; rock star Don Henley's Walden Woods Project and the much publicized battle to protect the pond from developers in the 1980s; and the vitally important ecological symbol Walden Pond has become today.
Exhaustively researched, vividly written, and illustrated with historical photographs and the most detailed maps of Thoreau country yet created, Walden Pond: A History reveals the many ways an ordinary pond has come to be such an extraordinarily inspiring symbol.
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Home of a different drummer
Walden Pond is a sacred place in American literature, a symbol of one man's effort to savor and preserve the natural world. Now, on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau's Walden comes a fitting tribute to the man, the book and the location that inspired this seminal experiment in simple living.
In Walden Pond: A History, author W. Barksdale Maynard not only offers a wonderfully detailed portrait of the place itself but also explains the cultural context for Thoreau's decision to build a home in the woods. A professor of architecture at Johns Hopkins University and a consultant for the Walden Woods Project, Maynard weaves together a history of the land, the Transcendental movement and the all-important relationship between Thoreau and his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It was Emerson, the father of Transcendentalism, who owned the land on the shores of Walden Pond where Thoreau and a group of his friends raised a 10- by 15-foot house in 1845. Emerson supported Thoreau's endeavor but wasn't interested in year-round rustic living himself, preferring "a comfortable study in town."
Using old photographs, maps and illustrations, Maynard creates a vivid picture of the house and its environs that will enrich any reader's appreciation of Walden. Also included is a comprehensive look at Thoreau's influence on figures from Yeats to Kerouac and a description of recent efforts to save Walden Pond from environmental threats that would undoubtedly trouble the man who made it famous.