Walden: Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben [NOOK Book]

Overview

First published in 1854, Henry David Thoreau's groundbreaking book has influenced generations of readers and continues to inspire and inform anyone with an open mind and a love of nature. With Bill McKibben providing a newly revised Introduction and helpful annotations that place Thoreau firmly in his role as cultural and spiritual seer, this beautiful edition of Walden for the new millennium is more accessible and relevant than ever.

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Walden: Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben

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Overview

First published in 1854, Henry David Thoreau's groundbreaking book has influenced generations of readers and continues to inspire and inform anyone with an open mind and a love of nature. With Bill McKibben providing a newly revised Introduction and helpful annotations that place Thoreau firmly in his role as cultural and spiritual seer, this beautiful edition of Walden for the new millennium is more accessible and relevant than ever.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807097137
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 7/15/2004
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 367,319
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer and philosopher as well as a naturalist. Walden is considered his masterpiece.

Bill McKibben is the author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age as well as The End of Nature and The Age of Missing Information. He lives with his family in the Adirondack Mountains.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2003

    An influential writer --Thoreau

    When I read Thoreau¿s book Walden, I was amazed to learn that Thoreau¿s writing had such a great influence on such men as Mohandas Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. They Read Thoreau¿s book on Civil Disobedience, which advocated Passive resistance. (Peaceful protest). Another thing that surprised me was the way that Emerson and James Russell Lowell degraded Thoreau in their speeches at Henry¿s memorial service upon his death. During the memorial these two so-called friends of Thoreau called him a lazy braggart, a societies maverick & A drop out! Perhaps by societies standards he was a rebel but certainly not the worthless ne¿er do well that these men painted him. Thoreau sets out to build a cabin on Walden Pond in order to be at one with nature. Thoreau was at heart a naturalist. He resisted paying a tax which he spent one night in the Concord Jail. This was to prove a point. He lived at Walden Pond for 2 years. Upon returning to society, he continued to write his books. He said that, ¿most men lead lives of quiet desperation.¿ Henry David Thoreau was born July 12, 1817 And died May 6,1862 of T.B. He built his cabin on March 1845 at Walden Pond at a cost of $28,12 & half cents. Thoreau started out life in the Transcendentalist movement but He later departed from this group. He was a genius that was unappreciated in his day.

    20 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    An interesting and thought provoking read:

    I recently had the pleasure of reading this fine book authored by Henry David Thoreau. This book has garnered a fair bit of controversy among those who have read it. Its a love it or hate it sort of book, and one must have an open mind truly appreciate the book. Inclosed in Walden, is the author's deep personal thoughts and beliefs, with his own unique brand of philosophy. Thoreau has a one of a kind writing style I have never seen outside of his own work. For his time, he probably would have been described as edgy, and without bounds. Enough of my own subjective opinion, lets take an analytical look at this interesting piece of American literature.

    In the first chapter in this book, our author in detail, describes his intentions to build a cabin and live off the land of Walden Pond. This was not in any way a new concept, as much of America lived in this rural way, but what sets Thoreau apart is he documented and wrote about his experience. Henry Thoreau believed he was making an attempt at achieving a purer form of lifestyle. Also included in this first chapter is the exact cost the author payed to appropriate his desired lifestyle in the form of the price of the materials paid to construct his dwelling, and precise accounts of price paid for the modest amount of food Thoreau purchased on his occasional visits into town.

    Often throughout the book, Henry Thoreau will enclose his own thoughts on certain topics. In on section, he reminisces on a time he spent in jail for a refusal to pay a state tax. This is just the sort of rebellion Thoreau would approve of. He held the view that the "savage" (as indians were apparently called during that time), lived a purer and less corrupt form of lifestyle. This opinion was formed by the reflection of the average man's life at the time. A man would work to afford a home, work to afford and buy all of these things that the author though to be unnecessary or too luxurious than needed. A "savage" simply made what he needed, he would never become a "slave" to any type of property owner or tax man.

    Henry David Thoreau had a unique and one of a kind form of philosophy. One finds it difficult to approximately and descisivly label his beliefs. Our author believed that each person should live by their own means, and their own way. Rejection of society norms was not necessarily a give-in to his school of thought, so long as those norms suited that individual. It is quite easy to dismiss Henry Thoreau as an antisocial misfit, but there is evidence in the book that he made frequent trips into town, and mentioned elsewhere he would have visitors at his home, and would seek to visit others. So this kind of belief form could really be best described as "to each his own", and to do only what you believe in and want to do. Lastly, self-sufficiency was stressed greatly, and is a great proponent to this way of thinking, as one who acts alone needs to be able to provide for themselves.

    Overall this was a very interesting book to read, and brings many things into questioning. It is a thinking person's book, and I enjoyed it greatly. Few authors have such a notoriety to just one book, and next to Civil Disobedience, it is his most famous work. All outdoor enthusiasts, fans of old literature, anarchists, and people with an offbeat point of view, will likely greatly appreciate and enjoy this great book by a man remembered mainly only for his be

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2010

    More Relevant Today than When It Was Written

    Walden was written as a backlash against consumerism and conformity. Thoreau built his own house with affordable and left over materials and sustained himself for a very small amount of money. The philosophy that he offers is one that many of us could benefit in listening to. Do we really need the most expensive cell phone on the market, or will the free model do? Do we really need a designer bag? Does it make us any happier to buy a house that is so elaborate it will add ten more years before we can retire?

    Walden questions what is truly important in life and what things are unnecessary burdens that we allow society to place on us.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2000

    Incredible

    This book manages to pass on more wisdom and inspiration then any other work I can think of. It will convict you into living life, it will cause you to see the world as a place of wonder and oppotunity. Only to be read with an open mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2013

    Highly recommended.

    "Walden" is the most important book ever written and published in the United States. Advocating simplicity of life, Thoreau has written America's
    most anti-American and anti-capitalist book. He was the last man to think hard about what life is actually for. He said he "wanted to drive life into a corner, to see whether it be mean or sublime." He said he "liked to have a broad margin to his life" which meant that he worked only a few hours a day for absolute necessities, so he could spend the rest of his time doing the things that interested him. In our busy, busy, rush, rush, smogbound world, Henry Thoreau was a breath of fresh air, a truly independent soul, who allowed no one else to do his thinking for him. He was the last real American, and he made an indelible impression on my life. I have re-read Walden every single year of my life, and am always the better for it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Morgyn

    She lowered her bow. "My arm is cramping." Dx

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

    possibly the most boring book i have ever read

    this book is the most boring book I have ever read.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    very fine edition

    no need to add my accolades for the content, but there are so many different editions I wanted to say the Yale edition has been my favorite, and this was a replacement copy for one that got wet on a camping trip.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Japan & Stuff Press Version

    The Japan & Stuff Press version of 'Walden' is a retelling of the first two chapters of the original for people, younger or older, who find Thoreau's prose intimidating. This fact is clearly stated on the front and back jackets and in the foreword to the book. If you happen to fit into this category of reader, then the book is well worth having. Even though this 'Walden' is a retelling, the intellectual content has not been diluted.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2004

    Thoreau's work is inspirational

    The contex of Walden is simply fascinating! For Thoreau built a house on Walden Pond in 1845 for minimal costs. He lived away from society for two years in a very primitive fashion. During this time period he studied mostly ecology and wrote a wonderful piece of literature. Although society in his day was unappreciative of his work he later became famous in the 20th century. Many people hear the saying, 'an artist isn't truley appreciated until after his/her death,' to be true. For Henry David Thoreau nothing could be closer to the truth. He is an inspirational writer and I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs a little inspiration.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2003

    Insightful

    Walden has some great ideas and theories about life. Sometimes, he gets a little wordy though. I definately think this is a worthwhile book to read as far as descriptive literature goes. It is also interesting to read about his thoughts and activities while alone in the woods for so long. His comments on possessions, food, and clothing ring true, but are a little extreme.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2003

    Brilliant!!!!

    When I read the previous pages I became a more imfomed and superior human-being. I even went to Concord to see Thoreau's enviroment in person. We all need to be inspired.....and this book can do just that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2002

    Truth of oneself

    I just recently finished the book Walden by Henry Thoreau. The Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc published Walden and was copy written in 1854. He goes into much detail in his 281 pages. Truthfully, the book was good, but written in too much detail. But I did like the theme as to ¿finding truth about oneself.¿ Also, the book is full of metaphors, imagery, and comparisons. Walden is a nonfiction book mainly about the changing of the seasons while he is at Walden Pond in Massachusetts during the years 1845 to 1847. He also wants the reader to seek a higher level of existence in a natural way. He studies mainly ecology, with the changing of seasons and changes within (colors, hibernation, etc.). Thoreau is the only character in the book, in which he is seeking self-improvement and self-realization. Overall, the book touches upon ecological studies and improvement of oneself. He brings to the reader the greatness and beauty of nature at a personal level. Finally, I recommend this book to people who enjoy deep detail on nature and enjoy ecology.

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    Posted October 4, 2010

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    Posted March 14, 2010

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    Posted February 15, 2009

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    Posted November 6, 2008

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    Posted January 1, 2010

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    Posted February 15, 2009

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    Posted September 12, 2009

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