I've been taking a class at my university about Thoreau, and since I see the word "transcendentalism" thrown around quite a bit on this site, I assume you all know something about him (and Emerson of course, but I'll leave him out simply because I know much more about Thoreau). From what I can tell about transcendentalism, one of their main ideas is that one must work hard in physical labor in order to "cultivate" their intellect. Thoreau built his house on Walden Pond, tried to live on his own by his own means, and even planted a bean field solely for the purpose of keeping busy with physical labor. Before he started staying at Walden, he would work vigorously 2 months out of the year so that he could sustain himself the rest of the year while in his intellectual pursuits. Something that like-minded contemporaries of his missed was the need for individualism. The utopian community of Brook Farm was founded on similar principles about hard work, but it failed because of the socialist nature in which everyone worked for each other and received the same pay no matter how much they worked. Thoreau was famously known as a nature lover, but not many people realize how knowledgeable of a naturalist and geologist he was, as well.
So the reason I'm posting this is because I'm curious as to what you all know about Thoreau, and what you think of his ideals. From what I've read about him, his attitudes towards intellectual endeavors are very similar to some that I've seen espoused on this site. Also, my classmates don't like Thoreau very much because he's not "cool", since we read an article written by my professor describing Thoreau's attitude towards the masses and ordinary people, even telling off a friend who walked many miles to visit him at Walden by saying he "has no time for friends." I want to know what people who are actually interested in Thoreau have to say about him.