This Earth Day we’re taking inspiration from literature’s greatest nature-lovers, the transcendentalists:
Today we celebrate Earth Day, an annual event dedicated to environmental protection. Surprisingly, some of the earliest conservationists in history can be found in American literature. The transcendentalists, whose movement developed during the 1820’s and 30’s, displayed a deep appreciation for the natural world and wrote avidly about their own experiences in nature. So frequently we approach climate change as a monolithic issue, impossible to tackle and incomprehensible in terms of personal philosophy. But perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman had it right; their steadfast appreciation and attempts at understanding the value of the natural world led them to be ever mindful of their surroundings. If we were to put these ideals into conversation with today’s problems, we may find some distinct similarities, as well as some helpful insight into the philosophical value of nature for mankind.
Mark your calendars and make some plans! November 1st is National Author’s Day. In 1929, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs created the day to honor America’s writers; in 1949, the day was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Congress. The resolution states, in part, that “[b]y celebrating author’s day as a nation, we would not only show patriotism, loyalty and appreciation of the men and women who have made American literature possible but would also encourage and inspire others to give of themselves in making a better America.”
Most of these historic places are privately staffed or state-run, meaning that even if the government shutdown continues, you should be able to visit these homes, museums, and locations:
Called “America’s Shakespeare,” Edgar Allan Poe created or mastered the short story, detective fiction, science fiction, lyric poetry and the horror story. His dark genius has invited children and adults to read and love literature for over 150 years.
Built by Twain’s father-in-law, Twain called this retreat “The Cozy Nest.” It is located on the campus of Elmira College. Twain’s grave is also located in the town of Elmira.