Henry David Thoreau's Walden part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self reliance. It covers his experiences over the course of two years living in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, in a woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts.
While Thoreau did receive visitors regularly, and returned their visits he hoped to isolate himself to gain a more objective understanding of society. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau's goals, and the project was inspired by his transcendentalist philosophy beliefs. As Thoreau made clear in his book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, about two miles from his family home.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."
- Henry David Thoreau
Henry David was an author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.