Thoreau and the Art of Life: Reflections on Nature and the Mystery of Existence

Thoreau and the Art of Life: Reflections on Nature and the Mystery of Existence


$16.54 $16.95 Save 2% Current price is $16.54, Original price is $16.95. You Save 2%.
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, June 24


Featuring nearly 100 luminous watercolor illustrations, Thoreau and the Art of Life collects eloquent passages from the writings of the seminal author and philosopher. Drawn mainly from his journals, the short excerpts provide fascinating insight into his thought processes by presenting his raw, unedited feelings about the things that meant the most to him. The book reflects Thoreau’s deep beliefs and ideas about nature, relationships, creativity, spirituality, aging, simplicity, and wisdom. By eloquently expressing his thoughts about life and what gives it value, he leads the reader to a closer examination of life. Thoreau’s work asks us to live our own truths with joy and discipline and to recognize that we live in a universe of extraordinary beauty, mystery, and wonder.

An avid reader of Thoreau, editor and illustrator Roderick MacIver organized the passages by themes: love and friendship; art, creativity, and writing; aging, disease, and death; human society and culture; nature and the human connection to the natural world; and wisdom, truth, solitude, and simplicity. The book includes a chronology and brief biography. Thoreau’s words of wisdom combined with MacIver’s vivid illustrations of the American landscape will resonate with nature enthusiasts and a broad range of readers interested in art, environmentalism, literature, and philosophy.

“It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful, but it is more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.”
—Henry David Thoreau

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556438837
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 03/16/2010
Pages: 116
Sales rank: 1,218,095
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Henry David Thoreau (1817—1862) is best known for his book Walden and his essay Civil Disobedience.

Roderick MacIver’s artwork appears in collections worldwide. The founder of Heron Dance, an organization celebrating the human connection to nature through art, he lives in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Thoreau and the Art of Life: Reflections on Nature and the Mystery of Existence 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
LonelyBookJunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must say I really love this book. Everything about it is just wonderful from the watercolors to the way the book is arranged. I made me want to go back and read Walden again. It would make a great gift and is perfect for after dinner chats. My hats off the author.
jmgallo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy the watercolors in this book, as they are all lovely! It's a good addition to my collection for the aesthetic value, but not the most stimulating read. It was a brief review, not really offering anything new or exciting about Thoreau.
GabriellaWest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is, as everyone says, a beautiful book. I think it's not the best way to appreciate Thoreau, though. It's been awhile since I looked at it, but I was struck by the story of the farmer who knew Thoreau and criticized him angrily for the pretentiousness of adding a middle name. I also didn't know that he was quite wealthy and that his family owned a pencil factory! Somehow the words in the book diminished Thoreau rather than drawing the reader more deeply into his enigmatic life.
tom.gsgc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like the styling of this book. However, it is not one to simply sit down and read cover to cover. (With that said, it was difficult to read "Walden" by Thoreau in that way, as well.) I will use this book more as a devotional source to locate ideas for my own pondering and meditation.The watercolor artwork is a fantastic addition to the brief but categorized quotes from Thoreau. If you don't feel like reading, it is just as pleasurable to peruse the images and think about human connections to nature.I will definitely use this book on a regular basis for a very long time.
1000reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the type of book that cannot be read in one sitting. Using it as a kind of devotional, while meditating on the excellent watercolors throughout, is the best purpose for the volume. If you've not read Thoreau, you will sample what he had to say about art, life, books, nature, and numerous other topics. More earthy than transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau's value lies in his observations about nature and his fellow humans. This book's chief strength, however, lies in the beautiful watercolors by Roderick MacIver, founder of Heron Dance Press and Art Studio, and editor of this book. I've not been much a fan of watercolor paintings until now. I prefer richer, darker colors found in Italian and Spanish art. But these watercolors truly due capture the beauty of nature and because the beauty of his paintings are as meditatively enlightening as Thoreau's journal entries, you will get as much from perusing one of MacIvers paintings as you will from Thoreau's prose. Dip into this book occasionally and non-lineally, but by all means dip in. You will be rewarded. I promise you.
Kellswitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful book. The artwork , quotes and journal entries all work together in creating a very peaceful and meditative experience. The choice of watercolor as the art medium is perfect and the paintings have a wonderful balance between the bright and the subtle, the detailed and the almost abstract and many of the chosen texts read like poetry and are very inspiring. If all you did was randomly open this book to any page you would find either a painting or quote or both to inspire and make you think.
shawse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I knew of Thoreau and his works but hadn't read any until coming across this book of quotes by him. I greatly enjoyed his words especially since many of them had implications for themes I have pondered recently: simplicity, minimalism, & frugality. The artwork is beautiful in its own right and fits the overall Thoreau theme but the individual images did not appear to match the text they were paired with which I would have appreciated. Over all I did enjoy it and will be adding works by Thoreau to my ever increasing reading queue.
jeffreydbrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like many who have read Thoreau's works, I found "Walden" to be more than a journal of one extraordinary thinker's journal of his personal experiment in voluntary, deliberate simplicity and solitude. I found that its purpose was to be lived, rather than read, as a sort of rite of passage by all who aspire to be philosophers. The question at the heart of philosophy for over twenty centuries is this: how ought we to live? To try to answer this question, one must not only understand how one's predecessors have contributed to the question. He should live his life as an experiment, a test of his own answer. When I found "Thoreau and the Art of Life" on the Early Reviewers list, I hoped that I had found new and substantial material on Thoreau's contribution to this focal philosophical question. Roderick MacIver's introduction offers a brief but valuable biographical sketch of Thoreau, but the proceeding chapters are merely thematic collections of aphorisms gleaned from Thoreau's published works and personal journal. The book is well-executed, and I would recommend it to the reader in search of such a collection. My own dissatisfaction stems strictly from a its disparity with my expectations, not from any flaw in the book itself.