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Tomorrow's PartiesSex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Peter M. Coviello

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814717400

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814717400.001.0001

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Disappointment, or, Thoreau in Love

Disappointment, or, Thoreau in Love

(p.28) (p.29) 1 Disappointment, or, Thoreau in Love
Tomorrow's Parties

Peter Coviello

NYU Press

This chapter talks about Henry David Thoreau's anecdote in the “Ponds” chapter of his work Walden (1854), a passage that condenses many of the principal elements of Thoreau's style, humor, and his genuine idiosyncrasy as both writer and thinker. It introduces and analyzes this other Thoreau, which shuttles in the work between anger and wistfulness, pained confusion and, at telling moments, a dreamy imaginative extravagance. Thoreau was not just a man disappointed in others; he possessed a kind of genius for disappointment. His hallmark disappointment can be viewed less as the sign of resignation, or apathy, than as a particular kind of yearning. It is this yearning, tuned to the note of expectancy, that makes Thoreau so engaging and suggestive a figure in the American history of sexuality. Thoreau's is a voice that speaks from before the apotheosis of those now commonsensical renderings of sexuality.

Keywords:   Henry David Thoreau, Walden, disappointment, expectancy, sexuality, yearning

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