“Walking” by Henry David Thoreau

Walking is an essay by American essayist, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, first published 1862. In it, Thoreau “extolled the virtues of immersing oneself in nature and lamented the inevitable encroachment of private ownership upon the wilderness.” (The Atlantic). Among his other works are book Walden; or, Life in the Woods and essay Civil Disobedience.

Thoreau was an avid walker who preferred to stay off the roads and wilderness to gardens. The Walking is full of self-reflection, comparisons between the wild and the society from human point of view and is considered to be an transcendental essay. The main thesis is expressed in first paragraph and what follows is the explanation of it.

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.

Henry David Thoreau

I have read it as a part of a reading challenge and although I myself like to walk for long hours and observing surroundings, I finished it and agreed with some of it text, but I didn’t enjoy it very much. To me the author’s thoughts are a little too extreme. Also he detours a couple of times from the subject of walking and relationship between man and nature; it doesn’t act as something to prove a point on the real subject either (I know I’m nitpicking here) But what surprised me was how little has society changed from his lifetime to now, sans advancements in technology.