Emerson and Thoreau

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Thoreau imitated Emerson right? Did he realize that Emerson has strong beliefs on imitation. Emerson says " imitation is suicide" & "Insist on yourself never imitate". If Thoreau believed in Emerson's ideas wouldn't that be a conflict to believe that imitating is to falsify and then try to imitate somebody's writing?

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2000


I think the difference here is that Thoreau personified the ideals that Emerson tried to instill. Mr. Kosmicki said that Emerson didn't live the life he detailed, but that Thoreau went so far as to treat it like an experiment, and lived the life that Emerson wrote about. He lived simply, lived for himself and for his happiness. That was Emerson's whole message: that we should do what we think is right, regardless of whether anyone else thinks it's right. In Thoreau's case, if imitating the directives of happiness laid out by another person made him content, then of course it was something that should be done. Not merely because someone else said it should be done, though, but because it fit what his heart told him was right. I also think that Emerson, when he said that imitation is suicide, meant that to imitate someone just because it's considered the 'right' thing to do is like losing yourself. I think he wanted to say that we shouldn't strive to be anyone but what we know ourselves to be.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2000

I don't believe that Thoreau imitated or copied Emerson. According to a history text of mine, they were the two leading transcendentalist thinkers of their time, which means they shared similar viewpoints. Their similar views resulted in similar writing. Let's say we were both opposed to raising taxes and wrote a paper on it. If you wrote your's first does that mean I copied you and your ideas?

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2000

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