Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau
Join us for a fascinating discussion about the life, work, and legacy of Henry David Thoreau with writers A. O. Scott and Rafia Zakaria. Both writers contributed essays to the new collection Now Comes Good Sailing: Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau. Learn about the impact of the author of Walden from the perspectives of contemporary writers influenced by him! This program will be hosted online via Zoom. Register for the program here.
More about Now Comes Good Sailing:
The world is never done catching up with Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), the author of Walden, “Civil Disobedience,” and other classics. A prophet of environmentalism and vegetarianism, an abolitionist, and a critic of materialism and technology, Thoreau even seems to have anticipated a world of social distancing in his famous experiment at Walden Pond. In Now Comes Good Sailing, twenty-seven of today’s leading writers offer wide-ranging original pieces exploring how Thoreau has influenced and inspired them—and why he matters more than ever in an age of climate, racial, and technological reckoning.
Here, Lauren Groff retreats from the COVID-19 pandemic to a rural house and writing hut, where, unable to write, she rereads Walden; Pico Iyer describes how Thoreau provided him with an unlikely guidebook to Japan; Gerald Early examines Walden and the Black quest for nature; Rafia Zakaria reflects on solitude, from Thoreau’s Concord to her native Pakistan; Mona Simpson follows in Thoreau’s footsteps at Maine’s Mount Katahdin; Jennifer Finney Boylan reads Thoreau in relation to her experience of coming out as a trans woman; Adam Gopnik traces Thoreau’s influence on the New Yorker editor E. B. White and his book Charlotte’s Web; and there’s much more.
The result is a lively and compelling collection that richly demonstrates the countless ways Thoreau continues to move, challenge, and provoke readers today.
Praise for Now Comes Good Sailing:
“In Now Comes Good Sailing, a rich kaleidoscope of responses address Thoreau’s relentless question: Where do we live now, and what do we live for? These essays bring Thoreau back to life, and ourselves back into relation with each other and our common world.”
—Laura Dassow Walls, author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life
“What a brilliant collection of some of my favorite writers about my very favorite writer. How to live: That was the secret that Thoreau was uncovering, and this book offers us a map to just that.”
—David Gessner, author of Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight: Sheltering with Thoreau in the Age of Crisis
“In true Thoreauvian fashion, the pieces in Now Comes Good Sailing range widely and thoughtfully across topics and disciplines. The collection provides multiple points of entry for readers new to Thoreau, while also encouraging those already familiar with him to revisit his life and writings in creative and timely ways.”
—James S. Finley, editor of Henry David Thoreau in Context
A. O. SCOTT is a film critic at the New York Times and Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Better Living through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth, and of essays on various literary and cultural topics. As a child, he spent several summers at Camp Thoreau, where he learned to live deliberately and excelled at capture the flag.
RAFIA ZAKARIA is the author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan and Veil. She is a columnist for Dawn in Pakistan and writes the Read Other Women series at the Boston Review.