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Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden (1854)

by Henry David Thoreau

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I have always loved Walden. It just transports you. A wonderful story for those willing to give it a shot. Well worth the read. The introduction and the annotations were a big asset as well! I would recommend this book. 5 out of 5 stars. ( )
  Beammey | Sep 21, 2017 |
When I first read this, in high school, I underlined a few epigrammatic quotes that summed up for me then all the wisdom of the world. Now I appreciate the small details of life in a semi-rural area: birds, the changing seasons, chopping wood, etc. ( )
  nmele | Aug 31, 2017 |
This classic work of 19th century American literature concerns the author's two year period living in the relative wilderness of the woods outside Concord, Massachusetts in the late 1840s. I enjoyed his descriptions of the peace and serenity he got from his solitude and his closeness to nature. As an introvert myself, this appeals to me, though I wouldn't begin to have the author's skills to make this work in practice. He makes the classic statement of the introvert, recharging his personal batteries to replace the energy drained by too much social contact, with what we would now call "down time": "I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers."

I enjoyed somewhat less the lengthy self-sufficiency descriptions, which became a bit repetitive, and the occasional lapse into slightly tiresome sermonising. It's worth remembering that Thoreau's isolation was his choice of lifestyle; in his words "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived". In fact he lived near enough to Concord to walk there regularly and had frequent contact with people there and visitors to his hut.

The book is very well written, with a precise use of language normal for the time in which it was written; Thoreau has a rich understanding of plant and animal life and the ebb and flow of the seasons during his time in the woods. His writing is also rich in classical allusions (" For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed"), that he generally assumes his readers will understand, quite a common feature of 19th literature.

This edition also includes the author's essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", which describes his libertarian philosophy that rejects government in principle as an oppressive force. He embraces the nostrum "That government is best which governs least"; and would like to see this taken to its natural conclusion that "That government is best which governs not at all". His main reason for this is the US government's support for the institution and practice of slavery, which he considers provides a justification for those concerned with true justice to oppose the government, including through the use of force if necessary. At the same time, his philosophical antipathy to the whole notion of government (though he makes certain pragmatic concessions to it) allows him to concede no place at all for a liberal government as a potential force for good in the social arena. Interesting stuff, even if his philosophy seems too simplistic to me. ( )
  john257hopper | Aug 23, 2017 |
In many ways I admire and agree with Thoreau's views about the need to return to a simpler way of life, to avoid...
spending...the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it...
I enjoyed (though didn't necessarily agree with)his strident opinions about reading - and this book definitely falls into the category of those "...we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to." Thoreau was obviously well-read by the standards of his day (and extremely so by those of today), with references to the works of Indian and Chinese philosophers, as well as the Classics.

There's a tone of contempt for his fellow, less well-educated citizen which comes through the text and which I found rather grating at times and I found the middle of the book, with its detailed descriptions of the pond and its creatures a bit dull, although the chapter on the coming of Spring was interesting.

My favourite passage came towards the end:
Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
I live in a suburban neighborhood, it’s quiet and the lots are a nice size. The lot has a small tract of woods beyond the back yard, and the property ends at a creek. So even though I’m in a suburban neighborhood, It’s easy for me to imagine (I pretend a lot) that I’m in or near the woods and alone, as I never see, and hardly ever hear, the closest human neighbors. As I was reading Thoreau, I realized that this is my Walden. This book is amazing, and I was struck by how coincidentally similarly I’ve been considering the natural goings-on in my yard and woods while I pass much of my day on the porch. Especially the local wildlife that visits here: the crows, the squirrels (my favorite to watch), deer and their young feeding just beyond the fence, owls during the night, the occasional armadillo (always seen or heard at night). And now the songbirds are returning, too. It’s been nice to have such activity, easily observed from the porch.

Reading this book put me in a very relaxed, calm state. Reflective and undisturbed, easy to think or not think and just watch the natural world going about its business. Thoreau is wonderful and I highly recommend this book. I know it is one I will frequently re-read. ( )
1 vote RonTyler | Aug 11, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (120 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thoreau, Henry Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Auziņa, IrēnaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Åsberg, StigIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ābols, ValdisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bengtsson, Frans G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, William O.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emmerich, EmmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fischer, TatjanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gissen, MaxEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groševs, EduardsCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Immonen, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meyer, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nason, ThomasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, LauraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teale, Edwin Waysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.
First words
When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my two hand only.
We are wont to forget that the sun looks on our cultivated fields and on the prairies and forests without distinction. They all reflect and absorb his rays alike, and the former make but a small part of the glorious picture which he beholds in his daily course. In his view the earth is all equally cultivated like a garden. Therefore we should receive the benefit of his light and heat with a corresponding trust and magnanimity.
wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society.
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
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Only "Walden" - please don't combine with any edition containing other works as well.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Book description
The Scott Library edition consists of a cloth cover, uncut edges and gold gilt top. Original price was 1s 6d per volume. Published 1900ca.

Originally published in 1854, Walden, or Life in the Woods, is a vivid account of the time that Henry D. Thoreau lived alone in a secluded cabin at Walden Pond. It is one of the most influential and compelling books in American literature.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486284956, Paperback)

One of the great books of American letters and a masterpiece of reflective philosophizing. Accounts of Thoreau's daily life on the shores of Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts, are interwoven with musings on the virtues of self-reliance and individual freedom, on society, government, and other topics. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:35 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

One of the great books of American letters and a masterpiece of reflective philosophizing. Accounts of Thoreau's daily life on the shores of Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts, are interwoven with musings on the virtues of self-reliance and individual freedom, on society, government, and other topics.… (more)

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