Live Deep and Suck all the Marrow of Life: H.D. Thoreau's Literary Legacy

María Laura Arce Álvarez, Eulalia Piñero Gil (Eds.)

by Asunción López-Varela (Universidad Complutense Madrid, Spain), Noelia Hernando Real (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain), Isabel Castelao-Gómez (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain), Sergi Álvarez Riosalido , Emeline Jouve (INU Champollion/Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University, France), Cristina Alsina Ríquez (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain), María Laura Arce Álvarez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain), Eulalia Piñero Gil (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)

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This wide-ranging collection of essays on Henry David Thoreau is another demonstration of the validity of the saying: “Classics will never die.” In effect, these eight scholarly and perceptive essays -- that deal with various aspects of this major nineteenth-century American writer’s works -- show what a source of inspiration for contemporary artists he remains. A close friend and a student of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau was not only a literary writer, but also a philosopher, an ecologist, a critic of capitalism, an early champion of the rights of the individual vis-a-vis the government. For this reason, from movie directors to playwrights, from post-modern writers to female beat poets, from transnational authors to Freemasonry and pacifism, these essays allow us to explore the many facets of an intellectual who set his seal deeply on the culture of his country and has taught the world to respect the dignity of every human being.

Dr. Maria Cristina Giorcelli
Professor Emeritus
Roma Tre University, Italy

The timing of the publication of this book on Henry David Thoreau’s legacy could not be more pertinent, as Thoreau’s ethical, moral, and political imagination, in the mid-nineteenth century, is more necessary than ever, both for individual reflection and for debates on the social, after the CV-19 pandemics of 2020. Thoreau’s Walden gives us the tools to rethink our relationship with our houses, as well as our resources to live in solitude while preserving our concern for the common and the communitarian. And his “Civil Disobedience” enables us to think politically and to generate new praxes based on altruism even if those exercises of generosity entail important personal sacrifices. The eight essays collected in this volume, written by a combination of consolidated and emerging European scholars, join an important number of academic studies on Thoreau recently published around the occasion of his bicentennial in 2017. The uniqueness of this new book resides in its specific focus on the legacy of Thoreau’s political thinking and on its echoes in cultural movements and movements of social and political activism, in twentieth-century and contemporary America. In that sense, the book responds and lives up to one of the most important potentialities of the humanities: to make us examine alternative voices from the past that audaciously dared to imagine other futures so that, by being inspired by those voices, we can stretch our imagination of the possible and turn those alternative visions from the past into better versions of our present.

Rodrigo Andrés
University of Barcelona, Spain

Considered to be one of America’s great intellectuals, Thoreau was deeply engaged in some of the most important social debates of his day including slavery, the emergence of consumerism, the American Dream, living on the frontier, the role of the government and the ecological mind. As testimony to Thoreau’s remarkable intellectual heritage, his autobiography, essays and poetry still continue to inspire and attract readers from across the globe.
As a celebration of H.D. Thoreau’s Bicentenary (1817-1862), this edited volume offers a re-reading of his works and reconsiders the influence that his transcendentalist philosophy has had on American culture and literature. Taking an intertextual perspective, the contributors to this volume seek to reveal Thoreau’s influence on American Literature and Arts from the 19th century onwards and his fundamental contribution to the development of 20th century American Literature. In particular, this work presents previously unconsidered intertextual analyses of authors that have been influenced by Thoreau’s writings. This volume also reveals how Thoreau’s influence can be read across literary genres and even seen in visual manifestations such as cinema.

List of Figures
Introduction: “Live Deep and Suck all the Marrow of Life”: H. D. Thoreau’s Literary Legacy
María Laura Arce Álvarez and Eulalia Piñero Gil
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Chapter 1 Thoreau’s Inner Geographies: Symmetries, Asymmetries and Triskelion
Asunción López-Varela
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Chapter 2 On the Page and on the Stage: The Influence of Henry David Thoreau on Susan Glaspell’s Works
Noelia Hernando-Real
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Chapter 3 “A Group of Urban Thoreaus”: Gender and Romantic Transcendentalism in the Poetics of the Beat Generation
Isabel Castelao-Gómez
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

Chapter 4 Experts in Home-Cosmography: Thoreau from the Experience of Jonas Mekas and the Cinematographic Avant-garde
Sergi Álvarez Riosalido
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Chapter 5 Staging the “Peaceable Revolution”: Henry David Thoreau and the Living Theatre
Emeline Jouve
INU Champollion/University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès

Chapter 6 Draft Resistance and the Anti-War Movement as Civil Disobedience: The Influence of Thoreau’s Political Thought on the Protests Against the War in Vietnam
Cristina Alsina Rísquez
Universitat de Barcelona

Chapter 7 A Postmodern Reception of H.D Thoreau’s Walden: The Construction of Literary Solitude in Paul Auster’s Fiction
María Laura Arce Álvarez
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Chapter 8 “Then, I Say, Break the Law”: The Intertextual Influence of H. D. Thoreau’s Social Criticism and Peaceful Resistance Poetics in Maxine Hong Kingston’s I Love a Broad Margin to my Life
Eulalia Piñero Gil
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid


María Laura Arce Álvarez is an assistant professor in the English Department at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. She has a PhD on American and Comparative Literature. Her field of study focuses on Postmodern American Literature and Literary Theory concretely on Paul Auster’s fiction. She has published several articles on Paul Auster’s fiction, Native American Fiction, American Fiction during the McCarthy Era and Women's Poetry. She has authored the book Paul Auster and the Influence of Maurice Blanchot published by McFarland Books in 2016 and Paul Auster’s Ghosts: The Echoes of European and American Tradition published by Lexington Books in 2018.

Eulalia Piñero Gil is Associate Professor in American Literature and Gender Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Currently, she is President of the Spanish Association for American Studies (SAAS), and has also been a member of the Board of the European Association for American Studies (EAAS). She has received a master’s scholarship to study Comparative Literature at Purdue University, a doctoral grant to research the archive of the American poet Marianne Moore at the Rosenbach in Philadelphia, and two postgraduate scholarships from the Canadian Government to research Canadian women’s poetry at Toronto University.
Piñero Gil has published extensively on the American Renaissance, women’s literature, music and literature and American theater. Notably, she has co-edited several works including Visions of Canada Approaching the Millennium (1999), Voices and Images of Women in 20th Century Theater. Anglo-American Women Playwrights (2002), Women and Art: Visions of Change and Social Development (2010,) and Breaking a Sea of Silence: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Gender Violence (2013). She is also the author of the critical edition Extraordinary Narrations by E. A. Poe (1999), and the translation and critical edition of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener (Espasa Calpe, 2006). In 2012, she translated and edited Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (Cátedra, 2012), and John Dos Passos’s A Pushcart at the Curb, Invierno en Castilla (Renacimiento) in 2018.

Henry David Thoreau, Intertextual Influence, American Renaissance, Postmodern Literature, Cultural Studies, Theatre Studies, Beat Generation, Film Studies