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Henry David Thoreau – Grasping the Community of the World

Translated by Jean Ward

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Tadeusz Slawek

This study takes up Thoreau’s work as an early and prophetic diagnosis of the modern crisis of relationships between the individual and society. Thus Adorno’s formulation of «a melancholy of science» finds its predecessor in Thoreau’s famous dictum from the early pages of Walden that we live our lives in quiet desperation. The author reads Thoreau’s Journal as an attempt to refute tendencies towards the narrowing of life to being understood merely in techno-economic categories which threaten the quality of the development of both the individual and the community. Thus in literary scholarship it is essential to find strategies which will critically contribute to understanding and transforming what Auerbach called «ways of life» and what Barthes referred to as «living-together».
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