Walden, or Life in the Woods

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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 ...
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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
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807014189
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/30/1997
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.79 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) is one of the most beloved figures in American literature. He is the author of dozens of books and essays, including On Civil Disobedience, The Maine Woods, and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

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

Read an Excerpt

Walden


By Henry David Thoreau

Running Press Book Publishers

Copyright © 1987 Henry David Thoreau
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0894714961

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 heard of 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 pillarseven 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.

Continues...


Excerpted from Walden by Henry David Thoreau Copyright © 1987 by Henry David Thoreau. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Joyce Carol Oates ix
Economy 3
Where I Lived, and What I lived For 81
Reading 99
Sounds 111
Solitude 129
Visitors 140
The Bean-Field 155
The Village 167
The Ponds 173
Baker farm 201
Higher Laws 210
Brute Neighbors 223
House-Warming 238
Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors 256
Winter Animals 271
The Pond in Winter 282
Spring 299
Conclusion 320
Index by Paul O. Williams 335
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 247 )
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(33)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 247 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very poorly converted e-book

    This book is very poorly converted to e-book and contains too many errors to make it enjoyable to read; in some places it is impossible to read because you just can't tell what you are supposed to be reading.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Great Book, Poorly Digitalized

    This is a great book. However, this version presents as a lackluster scan-job with no editing yielding a finished product contaminated by numerous unintelligible conversion errors from smeared paragraphs to numerous misconverted words. I should note that I have not read this version in full as I was too dissatisfied with the poor quality to proceed much beyond the first forty pages (which I had previously read and was mostly scanning for errors in an attempt to find a legible nook version of this great book).

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Bad text

    There are several scan/ typing errors in this edition

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2011

    Great Book, Terrible Reproduction

    "Walden" is one of the greatest and most important books in American literature, but this version is almost illegible on the Nook. Spend a couple more bucks and get another version.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    Disappointed

    Walden is wonderful piece of literature. This copy contains a lot of unreadable text. Much of the text is ra dom characters and mumbo jumbo! Waste of money!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Couldnt read it

    Was not scanned well.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    The Best American Book EVER Written

    Of all the books and treatises that have ever been published since our country's founding, this one stands heads and shoulders above everything else. In this volume, Thoreau beautifully articulates all that is great about America ... not its guns and armies, but rather its trees and forests, the quite meditations possible in unspoilt nature, and the philosophy of self reliance.

    This is, as far as I am concerned, THE best American book EVER written, and is absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to know about America.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    Image contains many, many formatting errors

    The first few pages are okay, but later ones contain whole paragraphs that are indecipherable jumbles of symbols, punctuation marks, and random letters. Walden is a good book, too bad this one is unreadable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Horrible version

    Thus free version is so loaded with jumbled text an errors, it is difficult to tead. Where is the quality control Barnes and Noble???

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Walden

    Not my style.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2011

    didnt get to read

    I bought thid book and it took forever to download so i didnt get a chance to read it--too bad, maybe I will try again another time

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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 April 15, 2014

    Meg

    (I read it. Sounds amazing) she went to the Athena treehouse. "I will see you next full moon milady." She bowed and went up the tree.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Jane&Kane

    Jane: *she held her arrow.*
    Kane: he howled.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Kirsten

    She nodded and held up an arrow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Meg

    Looked at Artemis as she glowed. "I...never mind."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Morgyn

    She held up her own arrow to join them with the others., eyes flashing silver for a little.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Renegade

    She howled, and a white and silver wisp traveled from her muzzle and joined the arrows.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Kress

    Her special cresent moon necklace glowed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Lupa

    The spikes on his pelt rose and had a faint silver glow at the tips.

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