Sam Oshana’s Literary Journey: Finding Inspiration in Thoreau, Whitman, Hemingway, and Twain

Being raised on the fringes of Boston, Sam found solace in the soothing words of Henry David Thoreau. Throughout his journey, Sam has been inspired by the philosophical ponderings of Thoreau and the myriad writers influenced by him, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Thoreau’s ideas on civil disobedience shaped Sam’s perspective, nudging him to act against significant injustices when all other options were exhausted, and in a way that wouldn’t disrupt the overall system of law. Sam continues to see the relevance of Thoreau’s notions of freedom in the context of contemporary society.

As Sam navigated through adulthood, he found himself re-immersed in Walt Whitman’s poetic charm, gaining comfort and motivation from his verses. Whitman’s quote from Leaves of Grass, “Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won,” has brought him solace in times of hardship. Whitman’s profound love for freedom, individuality, the divine, and nature resonated deeply with Sam. The unexpected 2017 publishing of Life and Adventures of Jack Engle by the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review brought immense pleasure to Sam’s literary pursuits.

While residing in Florida, Sam rediscovered the brilliant works of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s saying, “In order to write about life first you must live it,” exemplified his life of constant adventures. For Sam, whose life was quite “ordinary” in comparison, these narratives ushered in a sense of adventure right at his doorstep. Works like The Sun Also Rises and The Dangerous Summer have acted as literary adventures for Sam.

Since his early school days, when he participated in a performance of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Sam nurtured a curiosity about the acclaimed author. Over a hundred years since his passing, Twain’s influence remains pervasive, not just in American literature but also in American life. His seemingly laid-back style has left an indelible mark on American writers. As Ernest Hemingway noted in 1935, “All modern American literature comes from a book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Twain’s humor still tickles the fancy of even the most cynical readers today. Guiding principles like “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest,” have served as a compass for Sam in his personal and professional life.

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