First Advisor

Tony Wolk

Term of Graduation

Fall 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English






Solitude, Self-perception



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 153 pages)


Solitude is a philosophy, a state of mind, and a lost art in today's frantic world. Evolving from the Latin root word "solus" which means "alone," it is a concept which carries an aura of mystery, because it moves at the pace of reflection and focuses on the wonder of the present moment. Much of society views solitude with distrust, fear, or even contempt as it counters the current trends of perpetual activity, technological domination, and instant gratification.

This essay explores the author's three-way encounter with the richly intricate nature of solitude, to pursue an intuitive belief in its significant implications for renewal and creativity in a world exhausted and disillusioned by speed and complexity. Through research into the voices of literature, classic to the present, and interviews with contemporaries, together with her personal experience living alone above a tree-fringed river, the project focuses on a journey into this elusive, often misunderstood place.

Steeped in her long-time reverence for the philosophies of Emerson and Thoreau, along with many other literary voices including Merton, Camus and Sarton, the author seeks immersion, experience and understanding of this surprisingly accessible gift. She reports her findings as both student and participant in the unique world beyond the crowd, exploring six aspects of solitude and their relationship to creativity.

First is a study of the difference between the physical state of being alone and the emotional response of being lonely. This is followed by the visceral impact of solitude, its perception through the five senses and beyond. Next is a walk into nature where solitude is deeply rooted and uniquely experienced. Further travel looks at the feasibility of transporting solitude from seclusion to society. Highlights of five interviews are presented next, along with the wisdom of literary mentors, and the author's growing perceptions. The closing is both vision and application of the solitary experience in contemporary life, where the author not only validates the restorative properties of the solitude experience in general, but rediscovers the value and potential of her own place in it.


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