Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2014


In lieu of an abstract, here is the article's first paragraph:

Henry David Thoreau’s claim to be “a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher” took an unexpected turn for me. Spending much time with A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (my dissertation addresses the idea of religion found between its covers), I encountered a “liberation thinker” resisting the limitations of American culture while honoring the natural world and indigenous peoples. Thoreau’s epigraph reveals how he wants the muse of his dead brother to inspire him, but the book also discloses how he wants the muse of indigenous peoples to inspirit and improve American culture. Impressively, he esteems nature as more than a symbol pointing to a distant divinity as he experiences its inherent sacredness. Natural creation is at once our house and being; we are immersed in and part of its continuous regenerative processes, which suggests familial bonds of sacredness uniting humans and nonhumans. Thoreau offers an alternative to social structures and outlooks that devalue human and nonhuman existence.


This article was originally published in the Thoreau Society Bulletin, Number 284, Winter 2014, p. 5.

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