Waldenby Henry David Thoreau
The ultimate gift edition of Walden for bibliophiles, aficionados, and scholars.
Thoreau’s literary classic, an elegantly written record of his experiment in simple living, has engaged readers and thinkers for a century and a half. This edition of Walden is the first to set forth an authoritative text with generous annotations. Thoreau scholar Jeffrey S./i>… See more details below
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The ultimate gift edition of Walden for bibliophiles, aficionados, and scholars.
Thoreau’s literary classic, an elegantly written record of his experiment in simple living, has engaged readers and thinkers for a century and a half. This edition of Walden is the first to set forth an authoritative text with generous annotations. 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 Thoreau’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.
'[Thoreau] says so many pithy and brilliant things, and offers so many piquant, and, we may add, so many just, comments on society as it is, that this book is well worth the reading, both for its actual contents and its suggestive capacity.' A. P. Peabody, North American Review, 1854
'[Walden] still seems to me the best youth's companion yet written by an American, for it carries a solemn warning against the loss of one's valuables, it advances a good argument for traveling light and trying new adventures, it rings with the power of powerful adoration, it contains religious feeling without religious images, and it steadfastly refuses to record bad news.' E. B. White, Yale Review, 1954
'Bill McKibben gives us Thoreau's Walden as the gospel of the present moment.' -Robert D. Richardson, Jr., author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
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By Henry David Thoreau
Running Press Book PublishersCopyright © 1987 Henry David Thoreau
All right reserved.
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.
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.
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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.
- Date of Birth:
- July 12, 1817
- Date of Death:
- May 6, 1862
- Place of Birth:
- Concord, Massachusetts
- Place of Death:
- Concord, Massachusetts
- Concord Academy, 1828-33); Harvard University, 1837
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On Easter of 2000 I visited Concord, Massachusetts, and purchased this volume in a gift shop just across Rt. 62 from the site of Henry¿s cabin. It had been raining the entire trip, but armed with my coat of many pockets, my backpack, and my umbrella, I entered and ¿sauntered¿ about the gift shop, glad to get out of the cold dampness if only for a moment. I picked up a couple of the customary t-shirts one needs as souvenirs when traveling and then found myself in the book section, drawn to the items which enthrall me wherever I go. One book stood out¿not because I needed it, for I had a copy at home that was given to me by a friend for my birthday one year, but because of the photo on the cover. Whoever had designed the cover had actually BEEN to Walden, and the proof was the wet leaf among the terra firma known as the Pond. With an accompanying introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, I couldn¿t refuse. The cover still touches me, but I have taken to reading books and giving them away afterward, a habit that I am almost sure that Henry would love. I instead remember Walden in other ways, as rain falling on cedars. Walden to me is always Easter, always Earth Day, always truth, and most of all, always a reminder that my life is not mean or poor but rich and ready for picking. The chapters relying on Spring, Economy, Reading, and most of all the swelling Conclusion, like a gentle coda after the soaring symphony, remind me of what still waits, regardless of how old I am, and how old I will get.
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.
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.
When I read Walden, it felt like Thoreau was filled with a deep sense of leisure that was wrought with an emotional and compassionate link to nature. The book was sprinkled with his usual irony, and like nature, Thoreau's beautiful melodic rhythym of writing.
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.
I really enjoy it
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