Literary Art as a Form of Self-Inquiry in Thoreau’s Walden

By Forough Barani and Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In his non-fiction work Walden, Henry David Thoreau’s internal dialogues and meditations reveal to us his “self” as embodied in his literary work. While in this selected work there is a close analogy between self and the text, which both are a series of inner voices juxtaposed with and often contradicting one another, in order to decipher the artist’s persona, this study frames its analysis within two perspectives: the sociolinguistics (Bakhtin’s ‘Dialogism’) and psychology (Herman’s ‘Dialogical Self’). This attempt to investigate the aesthetic and ideological statements of the narrator of Walden explores the extent of nature’s influence on him as an alienated writer; and examines the cultural heritage in the context of American society of Thoreau to identify the roots of the broken ties between “self” and the “society” to shed light on the individual and social self of the narrator in Walden. This study concludes that this selected non-fiction work is not just a monological poetic meditation of its author but a polyphonic contemplation of internal voices carnivalizing the social ideologies of its time embodied in his art as a pursuit of self inquiry.

Keywords: Psychology, Self, Society, Subpersonalities

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.39-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 688.910KB).

Forough Barani

Postgraduate Researcher, Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Forough Barani obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from Guilan University in Iran in 2005. Her major fields of interest are “Dialogism” and “Dialogical Self” in both modern and contemporary philosophy. She is also interested in the application of other theories to literature such as psychoanalysis and linguistics. At present she is pursuing her Master of Arts degree in English Literature in University Putra Malaysia. The topic of her Master’s thesis is ‘The Dialogical Self in Selected American Non-fiction Works’.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya

Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. She is involved in several researches dealing with literature & culture, psychoanalysis & literature, literature in ESL, and diasporic literature.

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