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Edith Lank

Want to share with you this obscure comment on Thoreau, as I posted it on my blog:

For 99 cents I downloaded the complete works of Louisa May Alcott to my Kindle, to see how it all strikes me 75 years after I first read those novels.
Rose in Bloom is a sequel, what today we'd probably call Young Adult fiction. In it, Louisa gives one of the Eight Cousins a very Victorian death and marries off several others. At one point, to demonstrate a young couple's moral compatibility, she has them discussing inspirational authors. Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Thoreau, Emerson. I’m thinking that’s a typical Victorian canon, and then I pull up short. Wait a minute -- when Louisa May Alcott was a child, Thoreau took her and her sisters on nature walks. As a worshipful teenager, she left wildflower bouquets on Emerson’s doorstep. For some reason it gives me the shivers to see the mature author letting her characters discuss them as dead authors.
Characters in this novel are given to long prissy speeches. I started skipping a lot, wondering why I was bothering to finish the book, and then I found out why. The narrator steps out of the story to say this about her old friend Henry David:
“Thoreau, who, having made a perfect pencil, gave up the business and took to writing books with the sort of indelible ink which grows clearer with time.”
That gem of a sentence is buried in an obscure Victorian novel, and I don't know who'll ever get to see it. Just had to share it with you here.

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ANDREA WULF

  • I trained as a design historian
    at the Royal College of Art in London and I'm a full-time writer. I’m the author of four books and have written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and LA Times. I also write book reviews New York Times Sunday Book Review. My latest book is "Chasing Venus". I'm the 2013 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence and I'm currently writing a book about Alexander von Humboldt. Click here for a short bio. Contact: andrea (at) andreawulf.com

     

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    photo credit (c) Antonina Gern