Rotten Reviews: James Russell Lowell Reviews Thoreau’s Walden

“I look upon a great deal of the modern sentimentalism about Nature as a mark of disease. It is one more symptom of the general liver complaint…(Thoreau’s) shanty life was a mere impossibility so far as his own conception of it goes, as an entire independency of mankind. He squatted on another man’s land; he borrows his axe; his boards, his nails, his fish hooks, his plough, his hoe–all turn state’s evidence against him as an accomplice in the sin of that artificial civilization which rendered it possible that such a person as Henry David Thoreau should exist at all.”

James Russell Lowell, 1865, from Literary Essays, 1890

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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