Transatlantic dialogues in sustainability: Edward Carpenter, Henry David Thoreau, and the literature of simplification

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Abstract / Description of output

This chapter explores the ways in which Henry David Thoreau's Walden came to bear on Edward Carpenter's writings on simplicity in the 1880s and shaped his vision of a society forged through a sustainable relationship with the nonhuman world. It suggests that Thoreau's influence on Carpenter's writing, but in paying particular attention to Carpenter's reading, or misreading, of Walden, it is possible to chart how Carpenter actively recontextualised and reformulated Thoreau to meet the demands of Victorian socialism. The chapter analyses how Carpenter's approach to materiality and materialism both draws upon and enacts a severance with Transcendentalist ways of thinking about nature and, in doing so, transgresses conventional, and even contemporary, notions of sustainability. Continuous with Carpenter's transatlantic refashioning of Thoreau's ideas on social and economic sustainability was an interest in Transcendentalist notions of the natural world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVictorian Sustainability in Literature and Culture
EditorsWendy Parkins
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter3
Pages51-68
Number of pages18
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9781315548265
ISBN (Print)9781472470980, 9780367881160
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameAmong the Victorians and Modernists

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