ABSTRACT

In the present contribution, the author contends, first, that “the perfect piece of Stoicism” that Emerson wanted to make out of Thoreau’s philosophical correspondence with his disciple Harrison Blake in Letters to Various Persons (1865) was neither concerned with a personality stereotype, as Sophia Thoreau feared, nor with the specifically Stoic way of living, as Richardson and Risinger have claimed in response. This first edition of Thoreau’s correspondence was in fact meant to be representative of that generally philosophical “art of living well” to which Thoreau was entirely committed. Second, the author provides a comparative analysis of Thoreau’s philosophical letters to his pupil and Seneca’s epistolary with Lucilius, in order to ascertain precisely how Thoreau’s letter-writing itself, apart from Emerson’s framing of it, might have been informed by his knowledge and interest in Stoic epistolary practices.

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