Nashville Great Books Discussion Group

A reader's group devoted to the discussion of meaningful books.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Discussion questions on WALDEN - week 3


Is solitude absolutely necessary for Thoreau’s experiment in living? Could his idea be carried out in a modern urban environment?



Were visitors a good thing, or a bad thing, according to Thoreau?

Was his Canadian friend “wise as Shakespeare” or was he “ignorant as a child”?



What’s the point of Thoreau growing so many beans?

Is some type of manual labor an integral part of a good education? Or can one get a good education without knowing what manual labor is like?



Did Thoreau learn more about life when he was in the woods, or when he was in the village?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Discussion Questions on WALDEN - week 2

[WALDEN: "Where I Lived; What I Lived For; Reading; Sounds"]

The following questions were addressed on Sept. 19:

1. Thoreau says he goes to Walden Pond to “live deliberately.” What does that mean? Can this be accomplished by living within a community, or can it only be done in solitude?

2. What is Thoreau’s concept of a good education? Is it achievable on a large scale? on a small scale? by one person? Is it desirable?

3. What is Thoreau’s attitude toward progress? For example, does he think the railroad is a good thing, or a bad thing?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Discussion questions for Thoreau's WALDEN

The following questions were presented for group discussion on Sept. 12:

1. Is Thoreau's vision representative of fundamental American ideals, or is it basically a reaction against them?

2. Is Thoreau primarily "this-worldly" (practical) or is he primarily "other-worldly" (a dreamer)?

3. What is Thoreau's understanding of the relationship between the individual and the community? Does he believe they share a common goal or that they are fundamentally different?

4. Does Thoreau distinguish between the community and the state (government)? If so, what is the difference?

5. Is it possible to achieve the kind of freedom Thoreau was seeking? Is it possible today?