Walden_III_for_103A - I The Sublime and the Beautiful...

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Unformatted text preview: I. The Sublime and the Beautiful “There was a dead horse in the hollow by the path to my house, which compelled me sometimes to go out of my way, especially in the night when the air was heavy, but the assurance it gave me of the strong appetite and inviolable health of Nature was my compensation for this. I love to see Nature so rife with life that myriads can be afforded to be sacrificed and suffered to prey on one another…The impression made on a wise man is that of universal innocence. Poison is not poisonous after all, nor are any wounds fatal. Compassion is a very untenable ground. Its pleadings will not bear to be stereotyped.” (283) from “Spring” ► The Beautiful: associated with smoothness, smallness, brightness; often seen to inspire a proprietary feeling—a desire to own. ► The Sublime: a “delightful horror” felt in the presence of something much more powerful than ourselves; associated with the infinite, with darkness, with terror. II. Seasonal Time II. Seasonal Time III. Imagination v. Science III. Imagination v. Science ► Imagination (as understood by Romantics, and by Henry David Thoreau, who inherits British/European Romanticism): that faculty which perceives universal ideas or laws in the disorganized sensory data of life. ► Romanticism: 18th and early 19th Century British/European movement, associated with; 1) natural religion, or idea that spirit resides in Nature; 2) exaltation of the individual and of personal (extravagant!) expression; 3) support of progressive social causes; 4) interest in the transcendental and the infinite, which can be reached by the imagination. “Few phenomena gave me more delight than to observe the forms which thawing sand and clay assume in flowing down the sides of a deep cut in the railroad through which I passed on my way to the village, a phenomenon not very common on so large a scale, though the number of freshly exposed banks of the right material must have been greatly multiplied since railroads were invented…As it flows it takes the forms of sappy leaves or vines, making heaps of pulpy sprays…you are reminded of coral, of leopards’ paws or birds’ feet, of brains or lungs or bowels…Thus it seemed that this one hillside illustrated the principle of all the operations of Nature. The Maker of this earth but patented a leaf.” (271) from “Spring” George Inness, The Lackawanna Valley (1855) George Inness, ► Fathom: to determine the depth of something; to understand something. “I can assure my readers that Walden has a reasonably tight bottom at a not unreasonable, though at an unusual, depth. I fathomed it with a cod­line and a stone weighing about a pound and a half….The greatest depth was exactly 102 feet; to which may be added the five feet which it has risen since, making 107. This is a remarkable depth for so small an area; yet not an inch can be spared by the imagination. What if all ponds were shallow? Would it not react on the minds of men? I am thankful that this pond was made deep and pure for a symbol. While men believe in the infinite some ponds will be thought to be bottomless.” (256) from “The Pond in Winter” What, for Thoreau, is the value of a “natural What, for Thoreau, is the value of a “natural fact”? Does scientific observation add to or subtract from the beauty and purpose of his prose? ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/28/2009 for the course ENGL 103A taught by Professor Maslan during the Fall '09 term at UCSB.

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