Thoreau's Relationship With Emerson

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Maybe New Hampshire primary day should be called Emerson and Thoreau Day, in remembrance of the Cranky Yankee patrons of that prickly New England independence that we still celebrate, and mean to preserve – and not just in our politics.

“Do your own thing!” was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s line, a century before our hippies made it famous again.

If a man would plant himself indomitably on his own instincts, wrote the Sage of Concord, the huge world would come round to him. Nobody gobbled up Emerson’s non-conformist individualism more hungrily than the precocious young Harvard student from the other side of Concord, Henry David Thoreau.

Emerson was an enthusiastic intellectual who came to rebellion gradually. Thoreau was a friend of nature who took a dim view of his fellow men. Through the thick and thin of prickly, passionate friendship, they became like gods to each other.

The Emerson-Thoreau legacy in first hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Harmon Smith, author of “My Friend, My Friend: The Story of Thoreau’s Relationship with Emerson.”