By William E. Cain
As an essayist, thinker, ex-pencil producer, infamous hermit, tax protester, and all-around unique philosopher, Thoreau led so singular a existence that he's in many ways an ideal candidate for the old and biographical remedies made attainable via the historic publications to American Authors sequence structure. William E. Cain, the quantity editor, contains contributions on his courting with nineteenth century authority and ideas of the land, which can assist the volume's succeed in past those that learn Thoreau for illumination to these basic readers who love him for embodying the spirit of yank uprising.
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Extra resources for A Historical Guide to Henry David Thoreau (Historical Guides to American Authors)
He did research on pencil-making and reported on the results of his reading to the family; and he made adjustments in the machinery from which the pencils were fashioned. In 1853 the Thoreaus stopped producing pencils, because the sale of their fine graphite powder had become so profitable in its own right. Thoreau stayed involved in the business, becoming head in 1859 upon his father's death. Thoreau had helped his father to produce "the best pencil in America" (Petroski, The Pencil, 115), and it is conceivable that if he had wanted to, he could have 38 Henry David Thoreau become a kindred spirit to William Dean Howells's vigorous title character in The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), a self-made man raised on a farm in Vermont who, after making a fortune from mineral paint, decides to build a mansion in Boston's Back Bay to symbolize his prosperity.
5:459). Thoreau continued to prepare articles for magazines and journals, but the failure of A Week showed that he would not make a living from literature. This failure did not lessen Thoreau's commitment to his writing; for the year 1852, his journal alone totals more than 700 pages. But he was away from his desk more than he liked, spending time working in the family business and making improvements in the science of pencil-making. As the historian Henry Petroski has noted, Thoreau devised a means of refining graphite, combining it with clay, that enabled the Thoreau family to produce the best pencils in the country, pencils of the highest quality manufactured in different degrees of hardness and made for various uses, from writing to drafting and drawing.
The pleasure and peril of A Week lie in the variety of things that it includes. For example, Thoreau's first piece in The Dial, on the Roman satirist Persius, appears in revised form in the "Thursday" section. He also inserted, in whole or in part, sixty of his poems, twelve of them from The Dial. As one of his biographers has remarked, A Week is "like a library of the shorter works of Henry Thoreau" (Canby Thoreau, 272). It contains translations, an Indian captivity narrative, bits of local history, comments on other excursions that Thoreau had taken, and essays on Christianity, reading and writing, friendship, Oriental texts and sacred scriptures, Ossian (a Gaelic poet of myth and folk culture, whom the Scottish poet and translator James McPherson claimed in the mid-eighteenth century to have discovered), Chaucer, and other topics.