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"Guide to Walden Pond" Connects Thoreau's Writing to the Place He Made Famous

Mar 31, 2019

The shore of Walden Pond.
Credit wiki commons

For many, the longer, warmer days of spring offer a chance to renew our connection with the outdoor world and activities we’ve put aside for winter. And nothing says communing with nature like Walden Pond.

About half a million people visit Walden Pond State Reservation annually. Many come because of Henry David Thoreau’s book, “Walden,” which remains at least as popular as it was 150 years ago.

Why does Thoreau continue to resonate with readers? And how did a pond that Thoreau himself admitted was ordinary inspire such extraordinary writing?

Robert Thorson's “Guide to Walden Pond,” connects the dots between the book and the place it has made famous.  Thorson is a professor at the University of Connecticut and a long-time tour guide for Thoreau’s Concord.

The book started out as an online pamphlet that got popular. So popular, that Thorson’s wife suggested he make it a book.

“I was absolutely stunned… that there wasn’t one,” Thorson said.

The book is a narrative journey that makes a complete loop around the pond, going back in time to Thoreau’s world, and returning to the modern world again, Thorson said.

“Every time I read 'Walden,' I'm very taken with how he captures the sense of place,” he said.

This is a shortened version of an interview originally broadcast on March 5, 2019.