As I read the abridged version of Thoreau’s journals encompassing only one tenth of the original 7,000 pages, I can’t make any comprehensive comments about his writing.  But in extracting favourite quotations and metaphors  from the chunky 700 page version I read, it felt that he seems to use fewer metaphors and similes than other writers I’ve drawn on.  But they are vigorous and original, and often funny.

Here we have prejudice likened to cork bark, allowing you to float comfortably while those who have a less prejudiced eye battle to keep their heads above water.

‘Truly all men are not men of science.  They dwell within an integument of prejudice thicker than the bark of the cork-tree, but it is valuable chiefly to stop bottles with.  Tied to their buoyant prejudices, they keep themselves afloat when honest swimmers sink.’  26 January 1856


Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 365

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