Walden (Shambhala Library Edition)

Walden (Shambhala Library Edition)

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by Henry David Thoreau, Terry Tempest Williams
     
 

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In July 1845, Henry David Thoreau built a small cottage in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. During the two years and two months he spent there, he began to write Walden, a chronicle of his communion with nature that became one of the most influential and compelling books in American literature. Since its first publication on August 9,

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Overview

In July 1845, Henry David Thoreau built a small cottage in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. During the two years and two months he spent there, he began to write Walden, a chronicle of his communion with nature that became one of the most influential and compelling books in American literature. Since its first publication on August 9, 1854, by Ticknor and Fields, the work has become a classic, beloved for its message of living simply and in harmony with nature.

This edition of Walden features exquisite wood engravings by Michael McCurdy, one of America’s leading engravers and woodblock artists. McCurdy’s engravings bring the text to life—and illuminate the spirit of Thoreau’s prose. Also included is a foreword by noted author, environmentalist, and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams who reflects upon Thoreau’s message that as we explore our world and ourselves, we draw ever closer to the truth of our connectedness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michael McCurdy's woodcuts are to Henry David Thoreau's Walden as Rockwell Kent's images are to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.  We experience a perfect conversation between the writer and the artist.  There is a quiet restraint within each woodcut.  Nothing extra.  In the spare, raw beauty of McCurdy's images, he takes Thoreau's philosophy, 'simplify, simplify,' and lays it bare. If one can hold the grace of a good life in hand, McCurdy's work makes that experience possible.  Each print becomes a window where we can view those moments in a private life, a transcendence through beauty." —Terry Tempest Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Henry David Thoreau's classic, first published in 1854 and reporting on his experiences at the eponymous site where he lived in physical and social independence during the mid-1840's, receives refreshing treatment here. William Hope reads leisurely but with feeling, offering listeners the illusion that the author is speaking directly to them. The abridgements are not substantive, so listeners will feel that they have become acquainted with the complexities of a text that is both orderly and sprinkled with irony and other literary devices. The chapters are tastefully set off by musical interludes that complement Thoreau's own rhythms. Not only is this an excellent alternative for students assigned to read the text that is often offered in tiny print without benefit of margins, but it is also possible to suggest this to thoughtful teens who are seeking an intellectually engaging listening experience for their personal enjoyment. Hope's pacing invites readers with minimal skills to accompany their print foray with his narration. The careful editing here assures that they will not become lost between page and sound.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590306383
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
10/14/2008
Series:
Shambhala Library
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
4.60(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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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What People are saying about this

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
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