Walden and Civil Disobedience (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Walden and Civil Disobedience (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by Henry David Thoreau

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Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble…  See more details below


Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Henry David Thoreau was a sturdy individualist and a lover of nature. In March, 1845, he built himself a wooden hut on the edge of Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts, where he lived until September 1847. Walden is Thoreaus autobiograophical account of his Robinson Crusoe existence, bare of creature comforts but rich in contemplation of the wonders of nature and the ways of man. On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience is the classic protest against government's interference with individual liberty, and is considered one of the most famous essays ever written. This newly repackaged edition also includes a selection of Thoreau's poetry.

Jonathan Levin is Dean of the School of Humanities and Professor of Literature and Culture at SUNY-Purchase. His research interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture, modernism and modernity, and environmental studies. He is the author of The Poetics of Transition: Emerson, Pragmatism, and American Literary Modernism, as well as numerous essays and reviews.

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From Jonathan Levin's Introduction to Walden and Civil Disobedience

In the summer of 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into a small cabin he'd built near the shore of Walden Pond, about a mile and a half south of his native village of Concord, Massachusetts. Although Thoreau's experience over the next two years, two months, and two days could hardly be considered a wilderness adventure, it did nevertheless constitute a significant departure from the norm. Most of his neighbors, at least, thought he was a little bit crazy. As Thoreau suggests in the early chapters of Walden, he set out to conduct an experiment: Could he survive, possibly even thrive, by stripping away all superfluous luxuries, living a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions? Besides building his own shelter and providing the fuel to heat it (that is, chopping his own firewood), he would grow and catch his own food, even provide his own entertainment. It was, as he delighted to point out, an experiment in basic home economics; but in truth, his aim was to investigate the larger moral and spiritual economy of such a life. If, as he notes in the book's first chapter, the "mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," perhaps by leaving it all behind and starting over on the relatively isolated shores of Walden Pond he could restore some of life's seemingly diminished vigor.

Indeed, there is plenty of undiminished vigor on display in these pages. Nathaniel Hawthorne in his journal described Henry as "a young man with much of wild original nature still remaining in him" (Hawthorne, The Heart of Hawthorne's Journals, p. 105; see "For Further Reading"), and readers have often since regarded him—along with Walt Whitman—as something like the wild man of nineteenth-century American literature. Few readers ever forget the start of Walden's "Higher Laws" chapter: "As I came home through the woods with my string of fish, trailing my pole, it being now quite dark, I caught a glimpse of a woodchuck stealing across my path, and felt a strange thrill of savage delight, and was strongly tempted to seize and devour him raw; not that I was hungry then, except for that wildness which he represented". In many respects, Thoreau went to Walden in search of the raw, hoping that an infusion of "savage delight" would cure him and (by the example he would provide) his neighbors of what he regarded as over-civilization, which he linked to timidity and uncritical faith in the authority of others. Throughout Walden, and indeed throughout the greater part of his writing, the impulse to simplify conditions and cast off the debilitating and dispiriting obligations of a respectable life is bound up with this pursuit of uninhibited, unadulterated wildness. His admiration for wildness in nature was unbounded. "Life consists with wildness," he comments in the popular talk now known to readers as "Walking." "The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him" (Thoreau, Collected Essays and Poems, p. 240). "Hope and the future for me," he adds, "are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps" (p. 241).

Of course, Thoreau was hardly an actual wild man, a point he acknowledges in another talk, "Wild Apples," when he notes that "our wild apple is wild only like myself, perchance, who belong not to the aboriginal race here, but have strayed into the woods from the cultivated stock" (Thoreau, p. 452). As this comment suggests, Thoreau recognized that he came to the woods as a highly developed product of civilized society. So too his approach to the Walden environs should be regarded not as a kind of wilderness adventure—Walden was hardly a wilderness, then as now—but rather as an effort to locate and give voice to the wildness that subsists with and within the cultivated and domesticated. Late in Walden, offering an analogy from nature for the kind of extravagance he emulates in his writing, he notes that the migrating buffalo seeking "new pastures in another latitude, is not extravagant like the cow which kicks over the pail, leaps the cow-yard fence, and runs after her calf, in milking time". It is telling, in ways that few readers have fully understood, that Thoreau should actually prefer this cow to the seemingly wilder buffalo. What appeals to him about the cow is that its wild instinct has survived domestication: The wildness Thoreau pursues is not found in complete isolation from civilized and domesticating influences but rather survives in a deep, if sometimes unacknowledged, layer of being underlying those influences. The experiment at Walden Pond was an attempt to recover such wildness, as it survived on the margins of Concord village life and beneath the smooth and refined surface of even the most modern, educated, and enlightened men and women.

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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.
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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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