Quotation by Louis Auchincloss

Emerson was the greater artist. His essays contain some of the most beautiful language in our literature. How Henry James could have thought he had never developed a "style" is to me one of the mysteries of criticism. Thoreau in Walden comes close to the master, but he falls behind in the homeliness of his details and in the occasional smugness of his social satire. It almost seems as if he were reacting against the chiseled beauty of Emerson's prose. The latter's sentences were so fine that he needed nothing else. They became, like marble statues, part of the garden that was Concord. Their composer, serene, calm, detached, bland in speech and manner, the soft-spoken philosopher revered by all, did not often trouble himself on his strolls in the woods and along the river to pluck the flowers or feed squirrels or even identify the different species of flora and fauna. As Thoreau observed, he wouldn't have been willing to trundle a wheelbarrow through the streets of Concord because it would have seemed out of character. Emerson communed with nature on a spiritual level, using his eyes to take in the landscape and his lungs the fresh air. He had no needs to brace himself with cold or rain or spend the night under the stars.
Louis Auchincloss (b. 1917), U.S. author. "Emerson and Thoreau," Love Without Wings: Some Friendships in Literature and Politics, Houghton Mifflin (1991).
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