Thoreau essay on friendship

Emerson and Thoreau

I am very distant from all actual persons — and yet my experience of friendship is so real and engrossing that I sometimes find myself speaking aloud to the ideal friend. Emerson was different, and one of the biggest surprises of Solid Seasons is to discover how much Emerson relied on the younger writer for inspiration.

But such admiration could turn sour, and by the mids it had begun to curdle; for Emerson, friendship was hierarchical, less a twinning of equals than a competition. That oaken strength which I noted whenever [Thoreau] walked or worked or surveyed wood-lots, the same unhesitating hand with which a field-laborer accosts a piece of work, which I should shun as a waste of strength, Henry shows in his literary task. He has muscle, and ventures on and performs feats which I am forced to decline.

Each of us has a friend like Thoreau, someone more likely to criticize than praise; and we all have a friend like Emerson, who needs others so that he may shine more brightly. When I finally finished Solid Seasons , when I closed its cover and laid it on my floor, I felt a remarkable presence, even though I was alone. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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Friendship by Henry D Thoreau, First Edition

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