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Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition / Edition 1

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Overview

This is the authoritative edition of an American literaru classic: Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, an elegantly written record of his experiment in simple living. With this edition,  Thoreau scholar Jeffrey S. Cramer has meticulously corrected errors and omissions from previous editions of Walden and here provides illuminating notes on the biographical, historical, and geographical contexts of the great nineteenth-century writer and thinker's life.
Cramer’s newly edited text is based on the original 1854 edition of Walden, with emendations taken from Thoreau’s draft manuscripts, his own markings on the page proofs, and notes in his personal copy of the book. In the editor’s notes to the volume, Cramer quotes from sources Thoreau actually read, showing how he used, interpreted, and altered these sources. Cramer also glosses Walden with references to Thoreau’s essays, journals, and correspondence. With the wealth of material in this edition, readers will find an unprecedented opportunity to immerse themselves in the unique and fascinating world of Thoreau.
Anyone who has read and loved Walden will want to own and treasure this gift edition. Those wishing to read Walden for the first time will not find a better guide than Jeffrey S. Cramer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is nothing like this—within the covers of one book—in the world of Thoreau scholarship. The book is fascinating . . . accurate and minute in its scholarship. It amounts to a Thoreau encyclopedia in one volume!"—Joel Porte, author of Consciousness and Culture: Emerson and Thoreau Reviewed

"Cramer’s notes are immensely useful. His edition of Walden will be a boon to ordinary readers and scholars alike."—Denis Donoghue, author of Speaking of Beauty

Alan D. Hodder
"Thoreau's masterpiece—here freshly refurbished by Jeffrey S. Cramer—speaks to our material and spiritual condition as powerfully as on the day it first appeared.  Now, more than ever, Walden is our indispensable American book."—Alan D. Hodder, professor of comparative religion, Hampshire College    
Joel Porte
"Jeffrey Cramer's Walden is the most accurate and readable text of Thoreau's masterpiece. Cramer's version now replaces all other available editions of Walden as the most attractive and reliable way to approach this great American book."—Joel Porte, author of Consciousness and Culture: Emerson and Thoreau Reviewed
Sarah Payne Stuart
“Anyone who reads Thoreau in editions annotated by the great Jeffrey S. Cramer . . . will know everything there is to know about Thoreau and (amazingly) have a fun time learning it.”—Sarah Payne Stuart, author of Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God, and Real Estate in a Small Town
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300104660
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Edition description: Fully Annotated Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 160,750
  • Product dimensions: 7.74 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey S. Cramer is curator of collections, The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. He is the editor of Thoreau on Freedom: Attending to Man: Selected Writings of Henry David Thoreau.

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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.

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Table of Contents

Economy 1
Where I lived, and what I lived for 78
Reading 97
Sounds 108
Solitude 125
Visitors 135
The bean-field 150
The village 162
The ponds 168
Baker farm 194
Higher laws 202
Brute neighbors 214
House-warming 228
Former inhabitants; and winter visitors 246
Winter animals 262
The pond in winter 273
Spring 289
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2009

    Interesting and Insightful

    The cover of this book caught my eye in the library. I had never read Thoreau and thought I would check it out, just to see what Walden is all about. I assumed the book would be academic, antiquated and stuffy -- but it's not! With all of today's issues on greed and excess, this book is just as timely as ever.

    This copy of Walden is heavily annotated. Some people may find the notations distracting, but I enjoyed reading the annotations almost just as much as the text itself. I'm not a scholar, so I won't evaluate the notes and comments, but for me they gave me a better understanding of Thoreau writings.

    After returning Walden to the public library, I had to have a copy of my own. I expect I'll be going back to this book time and time again, to re-read passages and find inspiration. Also, it is a beautiful, well-made book, printed on quality paper and well worth the money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2010

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