Walden; or, Life in the woods

Walden; or, Life in the woods

by Henry David Thoreau
3.5 17

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Overview

Walden; or, Life in the woods by Henry David Thoreau

One of the great books of American letters and a masterpiece of reflective philosophizing. Accounts of Thoreau's daily life on the shores of Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts, are interwoven with musings on the virtues of self-reliance and individual freedom, on society, government, and other topics.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940019174553
Publisher: New York, T. Y. Crowell & company
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 621 KB

About the Author

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) is one of the most beloved figures in American literature. He is the author of dozens of books and essays, including On Civil Disobedience, The Maine Woods, and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

Date of Birth:

July 12, 1817

Date of Death:

May 6, 1862

Place of Birth:

Concord, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Concord, Massachusetts

Education:

Concord Academy, 1828-33); Harvard University, 1837

Read an Excerpt

Walden


By Henry David Thoreau

Running Press Book Publishers

Copyright © 1987 Henry David Thoreau
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0894714961

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 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.

Continues...


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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Joyce Carol Oates ix
Economy 3
Where I Lived, and What I lived For 81
Reading 99
Sounds 111
Solitude 129
Visitors 140
The Bean-Field 155
The Village 167
The Ponds 173
Baker farm 201
Higher Laws 210
Brute Neighbors 223
House-Warming 238
Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors 256
Winter Animals 271
The Pond in Winter 282
Spring 299
Conclusion 320
Index by Paul O. Williams 335

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Walden; Or, Life in the Woods 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First off, understand two things: a) Thoreau wrote this over 150 years ago, and so neither the prose nor the pacing conforms to late-20th-century expectations. b) the man hits on many concepts that STILL provoke heated debate 150 years later! This book identifies important currents in American life... our love/hate relationship with the environment; our willingness to stick our nose into other peoples' problems, telling them how to solve them - yet blithely ignoring our own problems; and the all-consuming need for money. If you want to read a book that encourages Americans to sit back and think seriously about how we live our lives, then this is a great place to start - as long as you note the caveat up top!
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy it
Joyfulsparrow More than 1 year ago
I have a hardcopy, paperback and now a digital copy. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book. I get lost in this book for hours at a time. I always want Thoreau with me! This book is full of wisdom. Living a life as close to Thoreau's as possible makes his words hit close to home for me. Simplify, Simplify!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book arrived very quickly and in great shape. An awesome buy.
Bill7 More than 1 year ago
This is the ultimate classic of political philosophy. Thank you for making a low cost Nook edition.
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jcady More than 1 year ago
Walden is a classic... but someone screwed up on the description of this book. The webpage says that this is a work about the Russian revolution????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terribke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Extremely boring novel that might put you to sleep.