Compares life today in the German Black Forest with Thoreau's experiences at Walden Pond.
A Black Forest Walden is a work of philosophical reflection, nature description, and sly humor. In brief chapters, or aphorisms, the American philosopher David Farrell Krell recounts his experiences in a cabin located in the mountains of southern Germany's Black Forest, where he has lived for several decades. Insofar as Krell compares his experiences with those of Henry David Thoreau, who serves as both inspiration and irritation, the book could be described as a critical commentary on Thoreau's Walden. Yet it equally reads as a rigorous yet playful and profoundly literary manifestation of where and how the mind wanders. Hence, the "Marlonbrando" of the subtitle is not the late actor but a feral cat who frequents the cabin and comes to be an important interlocutor, as if playing the role of analyst to the author. The subjects Krell treats are wide-ranging: the changing seasons, environmental issues, romantic love, parent-child relations, European versus American "values," higher education, artistic creativity, solitude, and the contrast between lifestyles in a quiet Black Forest village and in a noisy contemporary United States. Forty-one black-and-white photographs taken by the author accompany and enliven the text.
David Farrell Krell is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University and Brauer Distinguished Visiting Professor at Brown University. His many books include The Cudgel and the Caress: Reflections on Cruelty and Tenderness, also published by SUNY Press.
"The work is a literary masterpiece of sorts. Perhaps the greatest strength lies in the powerful descriptions of what Krell experiences and encounters during his life of solitude, a solitude that seems to intensify rather than dilute the attunement to life. I found it to be a compelling, at times spellbinding, read." — Walter A. Brogan, author of Heidegger and Aristotle: The Twofoldness of Being