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Finding Walden in Emerson’s Plato

TS Concord Saunterer, Vol 29/2021

by Mark Gallagher

A previously unknown sketch resembling Thoreau’s house at Walden Pond discovered in a volume of Plato’s Works once owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson may have been drawn by Henry David Thoreau. The minimalist drawing, not unlike the many thumbnail sketches found in Thoreau’s Journal, gives some insight into both the architectural and philosophical designs of Thoreau’s Walden experiment. Consideration of the sketch in its context suggests how Thoreau saw himself as a philosopher as modeled on the ideal philosopher of Plato’s Republic, and, perhaps, offers a new glimpse into the Emerson-Thoreau relationship.

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October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.”

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