Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

A Case Study in Canonization

Gary Scharnhorst


Camden House



A reception history of the writings of Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden.
Professor Scharnhorst's survey of trends in Thoreau criticism over the past century and a half shows that Thoreau's elevation to literary sainthood was the result of a distinct, if not wholly conscious, process of critical resurrection and revival. Each of Scharnhost's five chapters covers approximately thirty years of critical commentary on Thoreau's works, including his contemporary reputation, his postumous revival at the end of the century, his 'packaging' as a literary property early in the 20th century, and his vogue since the Great Depression as a darling of both formalist and political critics.
Scharnhorst comments on the enduring division of critical opinion over Thoreau and his work, attributing it to the different audiences attracted by his subject matter — issues such as war, racial justice and environmental ethics — and the refinement of his literary achievement.


February 1994
152 pages
22.8x15.2 in
Literary Criticism in Perspective
ISBN: 9781879751729
Format: Hardback
Camden House
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"An excellent survey of Thoreau's reputation over the years, from his lifetime to the present day." THE THOREAU SOCIETY BULLETIN

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