Criticism | December 01, 1980

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The Logic of Metamorphosis in Thoreau


In the second chapter of Walden Thoreau assures us, “Be it life or death, we crave only reality.” We do not crave reality like a pickle, of course, but as “a hard bottom and rocks in place” or “the richest vein,” something synonymous with truth (II, pp. 108, 109 respectively).  And when he concludes the chapter with the clause, “and here I will begin to mine” (II, p. 109), he implicitly promises the reality we crave.  Hence our complicated delight with the antepenultimate chapter, “The Pond in Winter,” in which Thoreau informs us that the pond is not bottomless, as tradition and idle speculation would have it, but is at its deepest exactly one hundred and two feet.

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