Walden and Civil Disobedience

Walden and Civil Disobedience

3.6 123
by Henry David Thoreau
     
 

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Thoreau's classic essays on the virtues of self-reliance and individual freedom have had relevance for every generation for more than a century. They remain high on required reading lists for students across the country.

Overview

Thoreau's classic essays on the virtues of self-reliance and individual freedom have had relevance for every generation for more than a century. They remain high on required reading lists for students across the country.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shrinking Walden into picture book size is somewhat like trying to fit Moby Dick into an aquarium. Still, Lowe's selections from Thoreau's iconoclastic work will give children a brief taste of this classic. Using only quotations from the original work, Lowe tells the story of Thoreau's year in the woods, emphasizing his descriptions of nature,stet comma and action rather than his philosophical musings. Readers see the young Thoreau putting shingles on his roof, hoeing beans, welcoming a stranger; they can revel in the natural wonders he describes--the ``whip-poor-wills,'' in summer, the drifting snow in winter, the ice breaking in the pond in spring. Sabuda's superb linoleum-cut prints lend a hard-edged brilliance to the dark woods--where sunlight is filtered through etched leaves, and moonlight shimmers on the waters of the pond made famous by a young man's experiment with life. All ages. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Walden's original publisher releases an annotated edition to celebrate the book's 150th anniversary.
School Library Journal
YA-An unintended effect of the cultural diversity curriculum is that we lose touch with seminal works such as Walden. Written for an audience thoroughly versed in Western tradition, many of Thoreau's metaphors and references are unrecognizable to today's students. Though some references were intended to prove his erudition, one is chagrined at the number of necessary explications of standard classical concepts. Though some annotations are noisy comments upon Thoreau's life, most are informative and enhance the work. Many YAs will view Thoreau's natural essays as he intended, thanks to Harding's efforts. A must for libraries.-Hugh McAloon, Prince William County Public Library, VA
Booknews
Bill McKibben ("The End of Nature", "The Age of Missing Information") provides an introduction and notes to the text of the 1854 edition. Downplaying the recent appropriation of both the book and the author by environmentalists, he emphasizes Thoreau's social and cultural prescience, and focuses on the two questions of how much is enough and how we know what we want. No index or bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher
"In one book ... he surpasses everything we have had in America" - Robert Frost

"A century and a half after its publication, Walden has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible" - John Updike

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781105558887
Publisher:
Lulu.com
Publication date:
03/13/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
585 KB

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Economy

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 had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained. I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer some of these questions in this book. In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heardof other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me. Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students. As for the rest of my readers, they will accept such portions as apply to them. I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

I would fain say something, not so much concerning the Chinese and Sandwich Islanders as you who read these pages, who are said to live in New England; something about your condition, especially your outward condition or circumstances in this world, in this town, what it is, whether it is necessary that it be as bad as it is, whether it cannot be improved as well as not. I have travelled a good deal in Concord; and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways. What I have heard of Bramins sitting exposed to four fires and looking in the face of the sun; or hanging suspended, with their heads downward, over flames; or looking at the heavens over their shoulders "until it becomes impossible for them to resume their natural position, while from the twist of the neck nothing but liquids can pass into the stomach"; or dwelling, chained for life, at the foot of a tree; or measuring with their bodies, like caterpillars, the breadth of vast empires; or standing on one leg on the tops of pillars–even these forms of conscious penance are hardly more incredible and astonishing than the scenes which I daily witness. The twelve labors of Hercules were trifling in comparison with those which my neighbors have undertaken; for they were only twelve, and had an end; but I could never see that these men slew or captured any monster or finished any labor. They have no friend Iolaus to burn with a hot iron the root of the hydra's head, but as soon as one head is crushed, two spring up.

I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should they eat their sixty acres, when man is condemned to eat only his peck of dirt? Why should they begin digging their graves as soon as they are born? They have got to live a man's life, pushing all these things before them, and get on as well as they can. How many a poor immortal soul have I met well-nigh crushed and smothered under its load, creeping down the road of life, pushing before it a barn seventy-five feet by forty, its Augean stables never cleansed, and one hundred acres of land, tillage, mowing, pasture, and woodlot! The portionless, who struggle with no such unnecessary inherited encumbrances, find it labor enough to subdue and cultivate a few cubic feet of flesh.

But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before.

Meet the Author

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817. He graduated from Harvard in 1837, the same year he began his lifelong Journal. Inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau became a key member of the Transcendentalist movement that included Margaret Fuller and Bronson Alcott. The Transcendentalists' faith in nature was tested by Thoreau between 1845 and 1847 when he lived for twenty-six months in a homemade hut at Walden Pond. While living at Walden, Thoreau worked on the two books published during his lifetime: Walden (1854) and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849). Several of his other works, including The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, and Excursions, were published posthumously. Thoreau died in Concord, at the age of forty-four, in 1862.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
July 12, 1817
Date of Death:
May 6, 1862
Place of Birth:
Concord, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Concord, Massachusetts
Education:
Concord Academy, 1828-33); Harvard University, 1837

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Walden and Civil Disobedience 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 122 reviews.
TheNightTide More than 1 year ago
I read this novel shortly before entering college and i can honestly say that it was one of the greatest books i have ever had the pleasure of reading. Thoreau constantly forced me to see things as i had never seen them and challenged my definition of citizenry itself. However, this book is not an easy read, and it will take time and thought to fully understand and appreciate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Walden many years ago and I called it my sure cure for insomnia. Now that I'm more mature, Walden's words resonate deep within me. Although this work was published 100 years before I was born, when I read it, I feel like Thoreau and I share the same soul. We have the same views, sensibilities, and foibles. At heart we are societal rebels and find incomparable delight and satisfaction in life's simple and natural treasures. Walden is a beautiful reminder that those of us who "march to the beat of a different drummer" are very much in tune with the rhythm of life.
Conrad_Jalowski More than 1 year ago
The American Transcendentalist Movement is often considered a reactionary intellectual movement to the traditions and principles of the Enlightenment; the dichotomy existing between the Period of Enlightenment and the Period of Romanticism. Transcendentalism is an extraordinarily complex intellectual movement that stressed the individual's purpose and role within civil society and the hierarchy of the world. Transcendentalism consisted of the constant renewal and introspection of the inward self, or the self-sufficient, self-autonomous and self-determined self that represents the individualistic entity. In addition, Transcendentalism calls for following one's own conscious and the avoidance of being enthralled to external events and factors that act to the detriment of the innate and inward self. Thoreauvian philosophy called for the noviolent resistance (subject and content specific) to policies promulgated by civil society that is despotic and tyrannical, or anything that acts contrary to the will of the individual and its autonomous spirit. Henry David Thoreau supported a limited role of government, and supported the rights of the minority. Whilst Hobbesian philosophy supported a strong, centralized government in the tradition of Thucydidean Realism, Henry David Thoreau was an individualist alongiside the similar philosophies and convictions of Soren Kierkegaard, Aristotle, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, John Locke, etc. On an additional factor, Henry David Thoreau was opposed to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of the social contract as an agglomeration of the majority or the 'General Will' or of 'Popular Sovereignty' as it violated and displayed a total disregard and abhorrence for the rights of the minority. In essence, no Truth or higher ideal acts contrary to the conscious whether held in contrary regard by a single individual, a class of a few individuals or by the general populace as according to the Thoreauvian tradition. I highly recommend "Walden" and "Civil Disobediance" by Henry David Thoreau as such works reveal the innermost quarters of the human character; into the most precipitous and deepest of depths of the human spirit and mind. Henry David Thoreau infused his works with great passion, beauty, devotion and sensuality. He utilized vivid imagery and descriptive language; his works are voluptuous, harmonious and melodious.
ArielS More than 1 year ago
There has been no equal, nor will there be, to Henry David Thoreau. His writings and ideas truly magnify the human essence and bring out the worst and best aspects of being "human." His contemplations while at Walden pond are truly inspiring and edifying. How wonderful would life be if we could learn to give up the material and transitory things in this world. Walden and Civil Disobedience makes one wonder about one's interactions with other people and one's internal conflicts. A must have for deep thinkers and for those who seek to become more open-minded--set your minds free!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having attempted many times, and failed, to read Walden, I have finally and happily succeeded. In part my success was due to the platform. The Nook allowed me to look up the myriad words and allusions which with I was unfamiliar. This integrated access to a dictionary and internet resources allowed me to understand what I was reading in a deeper way than previously possible. Thoreau's classical and mythological allusions, as well as his use of scietific terminology and esoteric vocabulary rarely read or spoken today, are challenging, and rewarding. As to content, Thoreau made me think , made me laugh, engendered self-examination, enlarged my views on life. I was sorry to come to the end of the book. I look forward to reading it again. In the meantime, I will approach my days, my mornings and evenings, differently, because I finally finished Walden. sjbc
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thoreau is a poet at heart, and a philosophic genius in mind. Walden will keep readers hanging on every word. The true beauty of the Transcendentalist movement is highlighted in the best sense with Walden. The story is an autobiographical account of Thoreau's experiment to discover the true meaning of living deliberately. Walden is not a widely-known piece, but is a worthwhile read for anyone who has an appreciation for great literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although written in 1854, these two books are timeless and Civil Disobedience applies more and more as time goes on. People like Thoreau would be appalled at the state of government today. He would certainly be ashamed that we let the Government have the control that it does and that we did not take his advice long before this happened. I first read these two books when I was 13, some 45 years ago, and they are still at the top of my list of required reading. I'm not sure if that's good or bad... just read them if you haven't.
bjdoureaux 5 months ago
I wanted so badly to enjoy this book. I’ve read such wonderful things about the insights Thoreau has in it that I was expecting page after page of things that blew my mind, or at least made me nod vigorously in agreement. What I got was several pages of Thoreau explaining how he built his cabin. This explanation included listings of the materials and their cost. What I got was pages and pages of prose that amount to rambling on any given topic. I didn’t finish it. I ended up skimming a lot of the Economy section. I thought when I finally got to the Reading section that I would be glued, but I wasn’t. I quit after that. I’m not saying this book is completely without the promised insight. There were areas that I felt I was able to connect to and really read. Most of the time, however, it felt like sitting through a lecture on your least favorite subject with a professor who loves to hear himself talk. This edition from Barnes and Noble also has Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” I honestly didn’t bother to read that one. While Thoreau could definitely write well, this book was not engaging at all for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nicholas-Fernacz More than 1 year ago
Nicholas Fernacz Mr. Virzi AP Environmental Science December 30, 2014 Review of Walden & Civil Disobedience Walden is a very insightful, poetic piece of writing. Reading this work makes the reader feel very intelligent and a bit more refined. Although written in the 1800’s, by one of America’s most exceptional writers, the themes and commentary on the economy, and environment, and what it means to be human, is very applicable to today. Anyone, including economic and environmental science experts, can learn something from the work. Included in Walden is a window into the world of someone who lives, basically, completely to the bare bone. Imagine living in a house worth $28.13. Imagine that in the woods. Imagine hunting, and growing your crops. Thoreau proves that what a human being needs isn’t a lavish structure called a “home.” Humans don’t need to eat until they are fat, or wear the most expensive clothing. All you need to survive is written out exceptionally well, in Walden. Henry David Thoreau survived through the winter, the summer, and he did it with less than what a human being would need today. Our species has evolved mentally to the point where we can’t live on what we need; our dignity gets in the way. This book will shock you with how simple it is to live. Included in this copy of Walden is one of Thoreau’s most iconic essays: Civil Disobedience. Thoreau provides commentary on what it our responsibilities as American citizens are. Incredibly these commentaries, written way before today, are very applicable to today, similarly to Walden. Overall, after reading these two pieces, I feel very different about the way I live my life. I used to want to be extremely rich, but now I see that all of that really doesn’t matter. Thoreau changed my life for the better, and he can do the same for you.
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manirul01 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy it
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