Thoreau's haircut strategy
June 29, 2007 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone read Thoreau's "Walden"? Does he mention whether, and how he cuts his own hair?
posted by gelcap to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here's the full text of it online (first Google result for 'Walden'). You could probably just do CTRL-F and look for 'hair.'
posted by box at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2007

I've read it several times, though it has been a few years since the last reading. I don't recall anything about hair cutting. It's not like the man created his own knives from chunks of flint or anything, though - I'm sure he had a modern (for the time) scissor or knife available.

I've also heard that he took trips into town fairly regularly, so I'd guess he wanted to keep his hair looking relatively presentable. Heck, maybe he even saw a barber when he was there. I had a college professor who claimed that Thoreau took his dirty laundry into town for his mom to wash during the time he was staying at Walden. Not sure about the veracity of that claim.

Maybe we can help more if we know what's driving the question. Are you trying to settle a bet? Trying to figure out how to cut your own hair?

On preview: here's another full-text link with everything all on one page, and a browser search for hair doesn't come up with any hair-cutting stories.
posted by vytae at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2007

It's not like Walden Pond was in some remote wilderness. He probably just headed to town or got one of the many, many people that stopped by to cut it for him. He went out to examine life not to escape it altogether. He wanted to live a simple and unencumbered life but not stop existing in reality.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:52 AM on June 29, 2007

He made visits to town during the writing of it (see top of page 3). I don't recall any mention of hair cuts.
posted by wheat at 11:01 AM on June 29, 2007

Thoreau was only a mile away from Concord Village. In addition, he "ate with his family or received food from them at least once a week." via

I've even read that his mother and sister frequently came over to help clean his house. I would imagine either of them could have cut his hair, or he could have had it cut in town.
posted by misha at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2007

One quick glance at him will tell you whether he cut his own hair.
posted by neuron at 12:42 PM on June 29, 2007

"He visited Concord Village almost every day; Thoreau's mother and sister, who lived less than two miles away, delivered goodie baskets every Saturday, stocked with pies, doughnuts, and meals; Thoreau even raided the family cookie jar during his frequent visits home.

'It was not a lonely spot,' understates Walter Harding in his excellent The Days of Henry Thoreau. 'Hardly a day went by that Thoreau did not visit the village or was visited at the pond.' The joke making the rounds in Concord was that when Mrs. Emerson [Wife of Ralph Waldo, who often dropped in at Walden] rang the dinner bell, Thoreau came running from the woods and was first in line with his outstretched plate."

- An Underground Education
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:47 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Box's link gives this Channing quote about Thoreau's hair:
"His hair was a dark brown, exceedingly abundant, fine and soft; and for several years he wore a comely beard."

Also, from "Walden, the place" by Ronald Wesley Hoag:
"...John Breed, a barber and drunkard in whose life and death Thoreau found 'an extreme instance of the power of appetite for rum' (Journal)"
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:50 PM on June 29, 2007

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