William Cowper; Henry Thoreau; podróż w literaturze
Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
D. Rott (red.), "Wokół reportażu podróżniczego. T. 2" (S. 94-114). Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Two different ways of thinking about travels appear in William Cowper and Henry Thoreau's works. Imagination and literature compensate any inconveniences of the journey to the 18th century English poet as they enable cognising the world without the necessity of leaving home. That is why winter is one of the seasons Cowper devotes three out of six books of The Task : season which by hindering journey is conducive to the revival of the spirit of domesticity. It is conducive to the work of imagination which sets a proper distance between a man and the world, distance which enables maintaining the individuality with keeping the social contact at the same time. It shows that Cowper's thought follows the trends of the Enlightenment tradition of human fellowship whose icon is found in Shaftesbury's philosophy. Thoreau views the concept of home and safety associated with it
in a different way. Dwelling, shelter and roof above one's head is the space where all existence closes its eyes. We sleep at homes which sleep to; this intensification of existence will be needed to bring to the light of day the necessity of awakening with the exceptional power. Hence, contrary to Cowper's walk Thoreau's winter walk is not a walk of someone who wants to confirm the advantages of human fellowship but an action of a man aiming at deconstructing this philosophy penetrating the material but not architectonical structure of the existence. The statement that "according to rules of polite society people cannot stay long without speaking" assumes the proportions of a synthetic judgement over 18th century anthropological theories. The phrase "ghostly silence" read on the level of language philosophy means exactly the deconstruction of such concept by indicating that speech in fact masks a man so the defence of language importance should be reduced to the defence
of the silence. The task of the philosopher from Concord is to expose speech as a kind of social convention and show the power of the word free from these kinds of commitments.