Walden and Resistance to Civil Government: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 2

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Overview

On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into the cabin he had built on the shore of Walden Pond, thus beginning the most famous experiment in simple living in American history. On the 150th anniversary of that event, Houghton Mifflin, successor to Thoreau's original publisher, is proud to publish a new edition of Walden, annotated by the distinguished Thoreau scholar Walter Harding and illustrated with Thoreau's own drawings. Even those who have read Walden many times will find much that is new in this edition, and those reading the book for the first time will discover why it has changed the lives of generations of readers.

In this illustrated adaptation of Thoreau's famous work, a man retreats into the woods and discovers the joys of solitude and nature.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393959055
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/1992
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 482
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live," Henry David Thoreau once observed. The American poet, essayist and philosopher certainly held himself to that standard -- living out the tenets of Transcendentalism, recounting the experience in his masterpiece, Walden (1854), and passionately advocating human rights and civil liberties in the famous essay, “Civil Disobedience” (1849).

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

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