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Henry David Thoreau was born in the year 1817 in Concord Massachusetts where he grew up. He graduated from Harvard University in 1837. Between 1835 and 1836, he was a teacher in Canton a school in Massachusetts. He contracted tuberculosis in 1835 and which finally caused his death in 1862.

David’s writings have contributed a lot to today’s literature. His works provided people with knowledge in some aspects of life, which are still valuable in today’s society. Based on the works that he did, Thoreau should be included in the modern literature.

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This is because his works are closely related to that of modern writers since he used the same styles that are being applied in today’s writings.


Thoreau wrote his first book “A week on the Concord and Merrimack rivers” in 1849.The book was about a journey he had taken with his brother john from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the book failed to sell as he had anticipated and therefore in the end, he remained with many copies, which were a great loss to him both in terms of money used in printing and time he had put in to write. The journey was divided into eight sections, the concord river and other seven sections showing activities of the week.

The first section describes the flora, fauna and the location of the river. In his trip, they made use of a hand made boat, which they had designed. He gave description of the marine and plant life that he had came across in the sea. He carefully thought about matters of religion, nature and poetry. He compared ancient gods in traditional religion with the modern religion based in the belief of Christ.

In his book, he compared eastern and western ways of life. This work is important in modern literature because it makes use of metaphor an important stylistic device in writing modern literary works. The book is actually not about a journey. The story is used to show changes in aspects such s region, which took place in England because of industrial revolution. Thoreau is against the occurrence of those changes because they contributed to changes in societal values (Thoreau 45). In 1849, he wrote another essay entitled Civil disobedience. This book is about a particular night in 1849 when Thoreau was taken to jail because of his refusal to tax.

He wanted the Mexican war to be ended as well as slavery and that is why he rejected to pay taxes. He taught people and wrote articles about the disadvantages of slavery as well as organizing for the release of then slaves. Many people were leading desperate lives because of slavery. He praised himself for being able to stand against negative changes in his life. One of his principles was that, individuals should reject the desires of the government if they are against their own desires.

According to him, people should follow their interests. His message inspired Mahatma Gandhi who mobilized Indians to fight against the Britain population, which had already occupied their land forcefully. Ideas of this book are still important in modern literature because they acted as an inspiration to the people, that they should not allow the government to oppress them.

If people do not agree with the policies that the government passes, they should feel free to demonstrate. The book teaches about individuals rights. Issues like high taxation rates and slavery should be abolished in societies. In addition to this, people should be ready to achieve their rights under whatever situation. Being jailed did not stop Thoreau since he did not surrender. Through his writings and teachings, his ideas influenced people.

In them it way, works of modern literature should contain information, which passes important ideas to the people (Thoreau 145). Walden an American book written by Thoreau was about declaration of his personal independence, the experiments that he did and spiritual discovery journey. The use of irony as a stylistic device is common in this book.

The book contains his details over 2 years, between1845 and 1847. He stayed alone in a cabin, which he had constructed near a Walden Pond in Concord owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson his friend and a teacher. He did not want to seclude himself from other people because he was oftenly visited and he too visited them. What he wanted was to isolate himself to get a better chance of learning and understanding the society.

He wanted to live a simple life and be in a position to satisfy his own needs. He took two years, two, months and two days staying in a simple house (Thoreau 90). He wanted to demonstrate the importance of living a simple life. He was in a position to cater for the four basic needs including food, clothing, shelter and fuel through the help of friends.

Mr. Ralph and his wife employed him, which made it possible for him to build a small house. He also planted crops in a small garden he had cleared. He managed his income well and he was in a position to cater for his expenses. This book is helpful for societies and people who do like the idea of civilization.

Civilization involves adoption of modern changes (Krutch 60). For example in the civilized nations, traditional religious systems have been replaced by modern religions like Christianity. Thoreau was very ironical because there is no way, in which he could have learned about the society, and yet he was living alone. In order to learn the society well, he should have stayed closely with the society he intended to study and interacted with people. Staying alone makes it hard for him to be self-sufficient.

He has to be assisted in some issues by other people. On the contrary, Thoreau disagrees with the notion that poverty makes people inferior. Poor people should make use of available resources, which will boost them economically.

One does not need to be employed to be in a position to get his basic needs. This work is important in modern literature where unemployment cases are high. It is not a must that people get employed since self-employment is very useful in modern societies (Thoreau 106). The Bedford hand written by Diana Hacker provides literature writers with the knowledge in writing good grammar in essays, citing documents and analyzing texts. The book is divided into several where samples of essays are given.

The book contains samples of essays, which make use of the main citation styles in writing. These include MLA, APA, and Chicago. This book is of help in essay writing as it teaches people on good use of grammatical words. For example, where and when to use “a” which is usually confused with the article “an’”, the first section teaches about the processes of writing. It highlights the process of exploring a topic effectively and creating a draft before the final, presentation of work.

It is also about composition of good sentences and paragraphs. The design of the document depends on the style it uses. For example, the format of a letter is different from that of a resume. Ideas on how to write different essays are clearly elaborated. Sentence structure is very important in writing (Krutch 66). For example, different ideas are joined together with a conjunction. Sentences should be neither too long nor too short. Phrases should be used properly in a sentence so as not to lose the meaning of the sentence.

The largest part of the book is covered by grammatical usage in sentences. Verbs and pronouns, conjunctions should be properly used in a sentence. The subject should agree with the verb in a good structured sentence .Other important sections include proper use of abbreviations, punctuation, numbers and capital letters. Knowledge of writing argumentative papers as well as evaluating arguments is conveyed in the book. Finally, the book has examples of citing articles, magazines and books in APA, MLA and Chicago (Hacker and Sommers 25).


This book is very useful in writing modern literary works. Henry David Thoreau based his works on the above aspects. This made his works influential and famous. Based on the principles he used in writing, he should be included in the modern literary canon. Most of these topics are in use in the modern world. His works are interesting and they carry with them meaningful information just like any other literary work (Hacker and Sommers 25;Krutch 66).

Works Cited

Hacker, Diana and Sommers, Nancy. The Bedford handbook.

London: Bedford Books, 1998. Krutch, Wood. The modern temper: A study and a confession. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1956. Thoreau, David.

Civil disobedience. Washington: Hayes Barton Press, 1964. Thoreau, David. Walden. New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1854. Thoreau, David. A week on the Concord and Merrimack rivers.

London: Ticknor and Fields, 1868.


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