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"I Keep Looking Back to See Where I've Been": Bobbie Ann Mason's Clear Springs and Henry David Thoreau's Walden

"I Keep Looking Back to See Where I've Been": Bobbie Ann Mason's Clear Springs and... “I Keep Looking Back to See Where I’ve Been”: Bobbie Ann Mason’s Clear Springs and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden by Laurie Champion The title of Bobbie Ann Mason’s memoir, Clear Springs, re- fers both to the small town in Western Kentucky near the farm where Mason grew up and to the attempt to see clearly, the goal for which she struggles throughout the book. Mason demonstrates in Clear Springs that “to write about nature is to write about how the mind sees nature, and something about how the mind sees itself ” (Cameron 44). Throughout the memoir, references to nature relate to learning to see and to leav- ing or returning home, central issues the memoir explores. Learning to see also relates to maturity, personal growth, and philosophical insights, notions that parallel transcendental principles posed by Henry David Thoreau, who also alludes to seeing clearly throughout Walden and his journals. For Thoreau, clear perception leads to spiritual awakening, the central metaphor he uses to illustrate individual growth. In Clear Springs, Mason builds on Thoreau’s notion of clear perception and spiri- tual awakening to represent variations of mythical journeys. The structure of Mason’s Clear Springs parallels that of Thoreau’s two-year http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

"I Keep Looking Back to See Where I've Been": Bobbie Ann Mason's Clear Springs and Henry David Thoreau's Walden

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 36 (2) – May 19, 2004

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

“I Keep Looking Back to See Where I’ve Been”: Bobbie Ann Mason’s Clear Springs and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden by Laurie Champion The title of Bobbie Ann Mason’s memoir, Clear Springs, re- fers both to the small town in Western Kentucky near the farm where Mason grew up and to the attempt to see clearly, the goal for which she struggles throughout the book. Mason demonstrates in Clear Springs that “to write about nature is to write about how the mind sees nature, and something about how the mind sees itself ” (Cameron 44). Throughout the memoir, references to nature relate to learning to see and to leav- ing or returning home, central issues the memoir explores. Learning to see also relates to maturity, personal growth, and philosophical insights, notions that parallel transcendental principles posed by Henry David Thoreau, who also alludes to seeing clearly throughout Walden and his journals. For Thoreau, clear perception leads to spiritual awakening, the central metaphor he uses to illustrate individual growth. In Clear Springs, Mason builds on Thoreau’s notion of clear perception and spiri- tual awakening to represent variations of mythical journeys. The structure of Mason’s Clear Springs parallels that of Thoreau’s two-year

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 19, 2004

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