in a language dead to degenerate times


Kurdish Kurdistan
Hi all
Could you please elaborate on this line, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times, from Walden.

The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have.

Thanks in advance
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We live in degenerate times: these days human genes have deteriorated so that people are less intelligent and thoughtful (wisdom) and less virtuous (generosity) than in the heroic past, and in particular lack manly virtues such as the courage to lay down one’s life for one’s community (valor). Because of this, we cannot understand the books (fully or at all): they do not speak to us, they do not have an emotional (or any other) impact on us.
    Last edited:

    C Dunne

    New Member
    The rhetoric is meant to provoke us, not to make a comment on history. Thoreau is not saying that 'these times' are degenerate. He is saying that if we aren't able to understand the texts, it's because we haven't acquired the wisdom and heroic spirit that are prerequisites to understanding them. It's an invitation to develop ourselves before we attempt to understand a text.
    < Previous | Next >