When I Came to Die: Process and Prophecy in Thoreau's Vision of Dying

When I Came to Die: Process and Prophecy in Thoreau's Vision of Dying

by Audrey Raden

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Scholars have long considered the elegiac characteristics of Thoreau's work. Yet few have explored how his personal views on death and dying influenced his philosophies and writings. In beautiful prose, Audrey Raden places Thoreau's views of death and dying at the center of his work, contending that it is crucial to consider the specific historical and regional contexts in which he lived -- nineteenth-century New England -- to fully appreciate his perspectives. To understand death and dying, Thoreau drew on Christian and Eastern traditions, antebellum Northern culture, Transcendentalism, and his personal relationship with nature. He then suffused his writings with these understandings, through what Raden identifies as three key approaches -- the sentimental, the heroic, and the mystical.

When I Came to Die suggests that throughout his writings, Thoreau communicated that knowing how to die properly is an art and a lifelong study, a perspective that informed his ideas about politics, nature, and individualism. With this insight, Raden opens a dialogue that will engage both Thoreauvians and those interested in American literature and thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625342409
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 01/31/2017
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Audrey Raden is an independent scholar currently working toward a master of divinity degree at New York Theological Seminary.

Table of Contents

Preface xi
Introduction. Anticipation as Prophecy 1
1. Figure in the Mist: The Death of John Thoreau, Jr. 21
2. "I did not cry": The Sentimental Narrative 43
3. Blood and Seeds: The Heroic Narrative 63
4. Artoosoqu' and the Button: From Inanimate Matter to Mystical State 93
5. "As long as she cracks she holds": Thoreau's Dying as His Final Text 113
Notes 133
Index 151

What People are Saying About This

David S. Reynolds

An elegantly written book and a must-read for anyone interested in nineteenth-century American literature and culture.

Robert Gross

Audrey Raden prompts us to confront the significance of death and dying in Thoreau's life and writings and thereby to rethink his ideas about nature, time, divinity, and the self. The result is powerful and unprecedented.

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