Walden: (Or Life in the Woods)

Walden: (Or Life in the Woods)

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by Henry David Thoreau

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"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Walden; or, Life in the Woods is an American book written by noted transcendentalist


"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Walden; or, Life in the Woods is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. First published in 1854, it details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. The book compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development.

By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau's other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period. As Thoreau made clear in his book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, about two miles (3 km) from his family home.


Walden enjoyed some success upon its release, but still took five years to sell 2,000 copies. Despite its slow beginnings, later critics have praised it as an American classic that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty. The American poet Robert Frost wrote of Thoreau, "In one book ... he surpasses everything we have had in America".

Critics were generally split over Thoreau's "Walden". Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau's endorsement of living alone in natural simplicity, apart from modern society, to be a mark of effeminacy, calling it "womanish solicitude; for there is something unmanly, something almost dastardly" about the lifestyle. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier criticized what he perceived as the message in Walden that man should lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs. He said: "Thoreau's Walden is a capital reading, but very wicked and heathenish... After all, for me, I prefer walking on two legs".

Today, Walden stands as one of America's most celebrated works of literature. John Updike wrote of Walden, "A century and a half after its publication, 'Walden' has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible" The American psychologist B. F. Skinner wrote that he carried a copy of Walden with him in his youth, and eventually wrote Walden Two in 1945, a fictional utopia about 1,000 members who live together in a Thoreau-inspired community.

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Wilder Publications, Inc.
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 - May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.

Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and "Yankee" love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs.

He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoreau is sometimes cited as an anarchist. Though Civil Disobedience seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government - "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government" - the direction of this improvement points toward anarchism: "'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." Richard Drinnon partly blames Thoreau for the ambiguity, noting that Thoreau's "sly satire, his liking for wide margins for his writing, and his fondness for paradox provided ammunition for widely divergent interpretations of 'Civil Disobedience.'"

Brief Biography

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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Walden (Illustrated + FREE audiobook link + Active TOC) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Name: Andie // Age:18 // Gender: female // Grade: Freshman // Looks: Short. Caramel skin. Short brown hair. Big brown eyes. Full plumpy lips. Normal nose. Big smile. Decent teeth. // Personality: Competetive. Outgoing. Happy. Respectfull. Loving. I cam be very supportive but at times I tend to not give a fu<_>ck. // Likes: Cheer. Softball. Track. Dance. Gymnastics. Taylor Swift. Dance Moms. Maddie Ziegler. Reading. Writing. // Dislikes: Not too much. // Status: Straight and in a relationship. // I probally forgot alot but get to know me.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Name-Aqua Seabrook Age-18 Gender-Female Looks-Brown hair that goes down to her lower back. Usually in a braid. Blue eyes that change hue depending on mood. Tanned skin. Usually wears long flowy dresses and sandals. Personality-Bold and outgoing. It's hard not to make friends with her. She is always happy and loves to make people laugh. She's a great singer, but nobody really knows. Loves music and plays the flute. Year-Freshman Likes-Dolphins, starfish, seahorses. She loves the ocean and is an unnaturally excellent swimmer. She also likes friends who are honest and kind. Dislikes-Girls who think they're the queen of the world, dishonesty, rumors and teasing. She thinks everyone should be treated equally. History-She's from Brazil and speaks both fluent Portugese and Spanish. She moved here to have a fresh start in America. (She still has a thick Brazilian accent.) Anything else ask!
Anonymous 7 months ago
Name: Luna Howler <p>Age: 18 <p>Gender: &female <p>Looks: She's has light brown skin which signifies that she's African-American. Her teeth her white and pointy like a wolf's instead of squared. She has sky blue braces on that she will be getting off her sophmore year. Her black straight hair goes a little beneath her shoulders. She has a huge collection of 25 different Jordans that she keeps in mint condition. When wearing a bikkini, she has defined abs but not extremeoy defined. You could probably see them from 7 yards away. <p>Personality: Friendly, can be shy when you first meet her, she was popular when she was in highschool because of her personality, she's a major dog enthusiast and spit out facts about dogs if you ask, she is also a tomboy, she like to be active and you will find her in the gym in her free time, and you will also see her in the dog park. <p>Year: Freshman <p>Likes: Boys, dogs, getting excercise, nice people, hands on projects, she also likes hanging out at resturants <p>Dislikes: Rude people, thots, girls who act like they are the most popular girls in school, boys who want to hook up on the first night, and cats. <p>History: She was born and raised in Australia but her parents taught her Greek her whole life so she mostly speaks Greek. She moved here just to come to this college. <p>Others: Not much. She likes to play with her boomerang outside when she gets the chance.
SophiaGracer80 More than 1 year ago
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.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She lowered her bow. "My arm is cramping." Dx