Power in delight

A generous study of Thoreau
by
September 2021, no. 435
Buy this book

Thoreau’s Religion: Walden Woods, social justice, and the politics of asceticism by Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Cambridge University Press, £75 hb, 331 pp

Power in delight

A generous study of Thoreau
by
September 2021, no. 435
Portrait photograph from a ninth-plate daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau (B.D.Maxham/National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons)
Portrait photograph from a ninth-plate daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau (B.D.Maxham/National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons)

Towards the end of Thoreau’s Religion, Alda Balthrop-Lewis, an academic at Australian Catholic University, evokes an experience each of us has likely had in some form. The sight of a rainbow or the sound of a bird amazes you so much that you simply have to share it. Delight inspires you to share with others, so that it may alter them as well as your relationship bringing you, collectively, into a more intimate and responsible accord with the freshly encountered world. In a book about Henry David Thoreau (1817–62), the explicit aim of such a passage is to convey that, contrary to the inherited belief that Thoreau was a dour ascetic, he actually embraced delight, and that, in this spirit of delight, his writing might be understood as a type of exhortation to ‘Look!’.

Danielle Celermajer reviews 'Thoreau’s Religion: Walden Woods, social justice, and the politics of asceticism' by Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Thoreau’s Religion: Walden Woods, social justice, and the politics of asceticism

by Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Cambridge University Press, £75 hb, 331 pp

Buy this book

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