But when I read HDT, back some twenty years ago, I noticed no such thing. Of course I was faithfully reading the Sunday New York Times back then, so I was pretty much immune to arrogance and self-absorption, especially given my own similar traits.
I happened across the book Thoreau as Seen by His Contemporaries, opened at random and found these quotes:
"The lecture on Wednesday evening, was by H.D. Thoreau, Esq. of Concord, Mass. The subject announced in the papers as 'Home, or domestic economy,' but the real topic was 'Myself - I.'"Hilarious.
A few months later another writes of another Thoreau lecture:
"[it] was a mingled web of sage conclusions and puerility - wit and egotistical effusions - bright scintillations and narrow criticisms and low comparisons."But is this a case where no prophet is honored in his home country? If Thoreau was seen as arrogant then, history seems to have proven Thoreau's self-opinion as true given his place in the canon of American literature. Or perhaps it's merely that we're all self-absorbed and arrogant now, it's in the air we breathe, and so we don't notice it in Thoreau like his contemporaries did. Or perhaps most people in our age do think he's an arrogant eccentric cuss and I just wasn't aware of it.