10 Most Meaningful passages – Walden – H.D. Thoreau


“Walden” brings together a rather prescriptive series of reflections, covering society, human nature, self-reliance and mankind’s relationship to each other and to nature. Widely considered a countercultural manifesto, Walden, nonetheless offers a glimpse into the thickset, austere and escapist attitude, prevalent at the time. I hope these 10 passages save you from the “Quiet desperation” inherent in reading this overly morose text.
Confucius said, “To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”
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The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
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Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.
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For the improvements of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man’s existence; as our skeletons, probably, are not to be distinguished from those of our ancestors.
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One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.
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Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.
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Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles.
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Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
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This spending of the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet.
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In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.
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