By Michael T. Gilmore
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Extra resources for American Romanticism and the Marketplace
Thoreau treats the entire operation as though the ice-cutters were "busy husbandmen" engaged in skimming the land: "They went to work at once, ploughing, harrowing, rolling, furrowing. . [and] suddenly began to hook up the virgin mould itself, with a peculiar jerk, clear down to the sand, or rather the water, . . all the terrafirma there was, and haul it away on sleds" (pp. 294- 95). As Thoreau's denunciation of Flint makes clear, his quarrel with the marketplace is in large measure ontological.
Is a system of selfishness . . " He is careful to point out that the abuses of commerce are not con- Chapter One fined to the merchant or manufacturer. The farmer who raises crops for market is also implicated, as is the consumer: "it is only necessary to ask a few questions as to the progress of the articles of commerce from the fields where they grew, to our houses, to become aware that we eat and drink and wear perjury and fraud in a hundred commodities" (CW I :147-48). "~ Emerson's dislike of "commercial times" is closely bound up with his individualism; self-reliance, in his view, is not a corollary but a casualty of exchange relations.
64). "More independent than any farmer in Concord," he claims to have learned from his experience that something approaching self-sufficiency is still practicable in midnineteenth-century America, if only "one would live simply and eat only the crop which he raised, and raise no more than he ate, and not exchange it for an insufficient quantity of more luxurious and expensive things" (pp. 55-56). Walden and the "Curse of Trade" Something approaching self-sufficiency:Thoreau makes no attempt to disguise the fact that he is unable to emancipate himself completely from exchange relations.