Walden and Civil Disobedience (Barnes & Noble Signature Editions) [NOOK Book]

Overview

In 1845, when Henry David Thoreau moved into a tiny cabin he built in the woods at Walden Pond, his objective was to conduct a practical and philosophical experiment in living: to simplify his life, to support himself entirely by his own labor, to observe and draw spiritual sustenance from his surroundings. He planted and harvested beans, maintained and improved his cabin, and received guests. He also explored the forests, ponds, and wildlife in the area; took note of natural and man-made sounds; and walked ...
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Walden and Civil Disobedience (Barnes & Noble Signature Editions)

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Overview

In 1845, when Henry David Thoreau moved into a tiny cabin he built in the woods at Walden Pond, his objective was to conduct a practical and philosophical experiment in living: to simplify his life, to support himself entirely by his own labor, to observe and draw spiritual sustenance from his surroundings. He planted and harvested beans, maintained and improved his cabin, and received guests. He also explored the forests, ponds, and wildlife in the area; took note of natural and man-made sounds; and walked occasionally to the nearby town of Concord, Massachusetts. Just as important, he kept a record of his two years living at the pond, publishing it as Walden; or, Life in the Woods in 1854.

     In 1846, during this experiment in living, Thoreau refused to pay a mandated poll tax, vowing never to support a government that permitted and protected slavery and that had launched an aggressive war against its Mexican neighbor. When he was arrested and jailed, his neighbors were shocked by his flouting of the law. In his essay “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau argues forcefully that it is the duty of every moral citizen to refuse to cooperate with immoral laws and to be willing to suffer the legal consequences for doing so.

     Walden and “Civil Disobedience” are among the most influential writings by any American. Walden inspired the modern conservation and environmental movements, as well as the creation of America’s national parks. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. both cited “Civil Disobedience” as the primary source of their ideas on nonviolent protest against injustice.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781435141315
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 11/1/2012
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Signature Editions
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 251,266
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1817. Closely linked to Ralph Waldo Emerson and the transcendentalist movement, he was a lifelong abolitionist, a noted naturalist, and a prolific writer and lecturer. He suffered from tuberculosis and died of the disease in 1862.

Biography

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts, the third of four children. His family lived on a modest, sometimes meager, income; his father, John, worked by turns as a farmer, schoolteacher, grocer, and pencil-maker; his mother, Cynthia, was a teacher and would take in boarders when money was scarce. Young Henry's gifts manifested themselves early. He wrote his first piece, "The Seasons," at age ten, and memorized portions of Shakespeare, the Bible, and Samuel Johnson while studying at the Center School and Concord Academy. In addition to his academic pursuits, Henry rambled through the countryside on exploratory walks and attended lectures at the Concord Lyceum, where as an adult he would fascinate audiences with his discourses on life on Walden Pond.

Thoreau began his studies at Harvard College in 1833. His years at Harvard were stimulating, if solitary; he immersed himself in a traditional humanities curriculum of multiple languages, anatomy, history, and geography. Upon graduation in 1837, he began teaching in Concord at the Center School, the public school he'd attended as a boy, but left his post after being told to administer corporal punishment to a student. During these years following college Thoreau published his first essay and poem, began lecturing at the Concord Lyceum, and attended Transcendentalist discussions at the home of his mentor, the renowned essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. At Emerson's urging, Thoreau started a journal -- a project that would become his lifelong passion and culminate in more than two million words.

A boat trip with his brother, John, in 1839 set the foundation for his well known work A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Sadly, unforeseen tragedy separated the tightly knit brothers in 1842, when John died of lockjaw caused by a razor cut. The following year, Thoreau joined Emerson in editing the Transcendental periodical The Dial, a publication to which Thoreau would become a prolific contributor. He also pulled up stakes for a time, accepting a position to tutor Emerson's children in Staten Island, New York. Half a year later, Thoreau returned to his family's house in Concord, deeply affected by the abolitionists he had met in Manhattan. He dedicated much of his time to lectures and essays advocating abolition and became involved in sheltering runaway slaves on their journey north.

In 1846 Thoreau was briefly imprisoned for refusing to pay a poll tax to the village of Concord, in protest against the government's support of slavery, as well as its war of expansion with Mexico. His experience in the Concord jail led to the writing of what would later be titled "Civil Disobedience." Unappreciated in Thoreau's lifetime, "Civil Disobedience" is now considered one of the country's seminal political works.

During this period, Thoreau built his cabin on Walden Pond and lived there for a little more than two years. In this small home on Emerson's property, he began writing his most enduring work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, and finished the manuscript for A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Sales were exceedingly poor, with Thoreau eventually acquiring 706 unsold copies of the original 1000 copy print run. Thoreau quipped, "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself." When Walden was published in 1854, sales were brisk and its reception favorable, although Thoreau's work as a whole remained somewhat obscure during his lifetime.

By the time Walden was published, Thoreau had turned from the largely symbolic approach to nature that he had learned from Emerson and other Romantic writers to a much more empirical approach, more in keeping with new scientific methods. His observations of nature throughout the 1850s, largely recorded in his journals, have come to be regarded as a model of ecological attentiveness, even though the term "ecology" was not coined until 1866. He developed several talks on the natural history of the Concord region, and even set to work on a series of longer, book-length manuscripts. Two of these, one on the dispersal of tree seeds and the other on the region's many wild fruits, were not published until 1993 and 2000 respectively. Today, Thoreau's writing is valued for both the poetic imagination and the scientific methodology it displays.

As the years passed, Thoreau's commitment to the antislavery movement strengthened, as did his popularity as a lecturer and essayist. Even in the declining health of his later years, he remained a man of conviction and action, writing on many subjects and participating in various political causes until shortly before his death from tuberculosis. George Eliot's review of Walden singles out qualities that attract readers to this day: "a deep poetic sensibility" and "a refined as well as a hardy mind." Henry David Thoreau died on May 6, 1862, in Concord.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Walden.

Good To Know

Thoreau's mother originally christened him David Henry Thoreau.

Both of his elder brothers were schoolteachers who helped to pay Thoreau's way through Harvard (about $179 a year in 1837).

Most biographers remain undecided about Thoreau's sexuality. He never married, although he proposed to friend Ellen Sewall in 1840 (she rejected his offer). Some believe he was a "repressed" homosexual, and others that he was asexual and wholly celibate.

Thoreau's grave is located in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery at Concord, Massachusetts, beside those of fellow literary legends Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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    1. Also Known As:
      David Henry Thoreau (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 12, 1817
    2. Place of Birth:
      Concord, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      May 6, 1862
    2. Place of Death:
      Concord, Massachusetts

Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 106 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2009

    A True Classic

    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.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    Very good for the soul

    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.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2009

    Civil Disobediance

    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.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Wonderful

    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!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Worth the effort, especially as an E book

    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

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2006

    Educating the Ego

    I believe that Thoreau, though he may have been an intelligent and respectable fellow in his own way, spoke in a very belittling manner throughout this book. He doesn't take any other perspective than his own into consideration when writing down his judgments and recommendations for society. While I do respect some of the insight Thoreau presented throughout the book I found it ridiculous how much better he seemed to believe himself to be than the rest of the society at the time. In parting, I'd like to share one of my favorite quotes from Walden: '¿Sometimes, when I compare myself with other men, it seems as if I were more favored by the gods than they, beyond any deserts that I am conscious of as if I had a warrant and surety at their hands which my fellows have not, and were especially guided and guarded. I do not flatter myself, but if it be possible they flatter me.¿ (123)

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2014

    I really enjoy it

    I really enjoy it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2001

    freedom

    A step for freedom for man is always right. Free speech, free writting, freedom

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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