Thoreau’s Vulnerable Resistance

In: Thoreau in an Age of Crisis
Author: Kristen Case

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Abstract

Kristen Case “Thoreau’s Vulnerable Resistance” attends to the physical fragilities and emotional grief evinced by Thoreau’s work—traits seldom highlighted in the scholarship. Case reasons that the early canonization of Walden and “Civil Disobedience” first made for the myth of the pioneering, unswerving Thoreau, focusing on his ideals of awakening to higher pursuits in natural settings to the exclusion of all else. Invoking R.W.B. Lewis’ ideas of the “American Adam,” Case refashions and democratizes this patriarchal-colonial ideal in a feminist reading of Thoreau. Offering a different view of the American icon, Case movingly reveals that Horace Mann and Ellery Channing loyally logged natural facts sought by Thoreau while he lay bedridden with his terminal illness. Case uses our understanding of the now disabled and dependent Thoreau to begin reading Walden and “Civil Disobedience” in novel light. What emerges through Case’s revisionist essay is a mature Thoreau imbued by humility and fragility—one perhaps more relevant to our own encounters with loss and crisis.