Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Patrick Barron

Second Advisor

Shaun O'Connell

Third Advisor

Emilio Sauri


Henry David Thoreau's seminal text Walden has long been hailed as a masterpiece of American Naturalism, however reading it a particular paradox becomes apparent: Thoreau writes evocatively and passionately to establish a fierce case for a strict adherence to the individual genius; however as he develops his own style of individualism at Walden Pond, his philosophy turns from the interior towards the universal. This paradox of reconciling the fastness to the individual while maintaining an acute awareness of the position within the universal is also a predominant theme in the classical Chinese spiritual work the Tao Te Ching. It is the aim of this study, then, to examine how these two writers from wildly different backgrounds, writing in distinctly unique styles, and separated by a vast gulf of time, arrive upon and reconcile these incredibly similar differences.


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