Walking with the Humble Essayist
July 9, 2014 § 1 Comment
Essayist Steve Harvey has launched a fascinating new project this week, a site titled The Humble Essayist wherein he will feature the “Paragraph of the Week,” highlighting a paragraph from a renowned or promising writer followed by a paragraph of comment about the theme and style of the piece.
“I think of it as a concise review which gives the reader the flavor of the original, commentary on the voice, and a brief glimpse of the writer’s ideas and obsessions, all in two paragraphs, ” Harvey writes. “I hope it will get the word out about great essays to a few more readers.”
Here is a bit of what he has to say about the opening to Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Walking,” followed by a link to his site and the full entry:
The energetic contraries of Thoreau’s opening sentence—“hug” and “mount”—certainly deserve their exclamation point. It punctuates an irony that runs through all of Thoreau’s work. We can “elevate” ourselves through the child-like act of merely climbing a tree. When we are “well pitched” into grandeur our shirt fronts end up smeared in tar. I can picture a blackened Thoreau, the gadfly of Concord, marching up to townspeople in for jury duty with a pine blossom in hand only to learn that none of them had seen it before—which means, of course, that they have also not seen the view that Thoreau could take in from the tree’s topmost branches. What change of perspective do we achieve when we discover “new mountains” embedded in a horizon that has until then bounded our lives?