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Walden; Or, Life in the Woods Paperback – Apr 12 1995


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Walden; Or, Life in the Woods + Civil Disobedience and Other Essays + Leaves of Grass: The Original 1855 Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 1 edition (April 12 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486284956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486284958
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30 2003
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'm not surprised, scrolling through the many reviews of this book, to see that quite a few find it to be a tedious waste of time. This is, after all, America, where thinking critically is in critically short supply. If you are a literalist, if you've been weaned on airport novels and other pseudo-literary junk, if you are unable to relate to a multi-faceted jewel that sparkles on every imaginable level, then by all means stay away from this book.
The tone of several reviews reminded me of the student in my Latin class who said one day, as we were reading a selection from Ovid's Metamorphoses, "This is stupid!" "No," I responded tranquilly, "You're stupid." Some people apparently expect an encounter with a great author to be a cheap turn on, like a video game or a shot of Jack Daniels. Not surprisingly, when the engagement requires the use of one's brain or at least a modicum of intellectual effort, many have to throw in the towel. The irony, of course, is that these are exactly the sort of people Thoreau was railing against in Walden.
Walden, boring? You might as well say the Iliad, Hamlet, or the Canterbury Tales are boring. Walden is quite easily a work that ranks with these world-class masterpieces. Thoreau's magnum opus grows in stature with each passing year, and he ranks at the top of American prose stylists.
Walden is a heroic epic, a farmer's almanac, a poem, a pastoral, a fire and brimstone sermon, an autobiography, a philosophical treatise, a journal, an annual report by a man who was the sole stockholder in his own extraordinary enterprise. It is a vicious critique of the unexamined life and a brilliant paean to the richer and more rewarding existence which is open to anyone who wishes to discover it.
Like a stone tossed into a pond, Walden's influence will ripple through all of the ages to the very edge of eternity. If there ever was a book that could dramatically alter one's perception of the world, Walden is that book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lance Kirby on Jan. 29 2002
Format: Paperback
Many people have the misconception that "Walden" is all about how to survive in the wilderness, this completely misses the soul of the book. Thoreau didn't do his "experiment" to see if he could survive in the wilderness, he would have gone much farther from civilization for that. Rather, Thoreau wanted to live life on his own terms in a setting that allowed him to contemplate life on a higher scale then simply "getting a living". As he states his life philosophy "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!" ask yourself what it is that you NEED to make you happy, and live only for that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kieran Fox on Oct. 11 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an incredible book. It is telling that most of the negative reviews (on Amazon.com) are by bored high school students who, quite understandably, couldn't appreciate the book. I don't think high school is a time at which you can really appreciate this book - I can see how it would just be grueling. One girl even wrote that she had to write her one-star review quickly as she was in a rush to meet her boyfriend at McDonald's... oh, the humanity. Various other 'critics' consider Thoreau's understanding of Eastern philosophy/religion to be inadequate (theirs, presumably, is top notch!).

I will agree that the prose plods along at times and even though I am a huge reader, this was a slow haul in many ways. Nonetheless the book is packed with insights and uplifting, encouraging ideas. I don't agree that because Thoreau had a Harvard education, therefore he is not entitled to attempt to lead a more simple life. Those who whine that his descriptions of nature are meaningless and go on too long have very, very obviously missed the point. Reading this book quietly and slowly it is evident that almost every passage on nature is allegorical, and interpretable as a passage on humanity and its sufferings and potentials; Thoreau only occasionally points this out explicitly, but it underlies most of the book.

I highlighted dozens of passages in this work and will keep the battered old paperback with me for the rest of my life. To those too busy (or too lazy, or frankly too stupid) to understand this book, or who are in a rush to get to McDonald's, it's your loss... for those whose understanding of Eastern religion is too profound, I guess yes, you will have to look elsewhere... I can say though that I have given this book to several people. Those whom I truly respect as human beings have all loved it. As for the rest, well...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ryder on Sept. 13 2003
Format: Paperback
Thoreau went into the Concord woods "to live deliberately" and to try to approach in practice his excellent motto--multum in parvo--much in little. Setting off to transact some business as simply as possible, Thoreau began his famous experiment a happy man. Importantly, he concluded it 26 months later in the same convivial state. After proving to himself it could be done, he saw no point in continuing his experiment in such extreme fashion, becoming once again "a sojourner in civilized life."
Thoreau was certainly not alone in the woods. Apart from the many visitors he welcomed, he took frequent trips "into town," or met woodchoppers and ice cutters during his marathon sojourns through the fields and forests surrounding his wooden castle. While most men, as he famously said, "led lives of quiet desperation," Thoreau seemed to soak up the life and energy of every waking hour, giving him an inexhaustible supply of earthly happiness. There was nothing quiet or desperate about Thoreau.
Classically-educated Thoreau was patently devoted to the writings of ancient authors, but to him the words and pages written by Nature were far more interesting and pleasing than histories in Latin or 2500 year-old Greek sagacity. In fact, Thoreau read very little during a good portion of his Walden experiment. He preferred sometimes just to sit on his doorstep from morning to noon, steeped in the sights and sounds of the abundant nature surrounding him. Of course he also wrote. But the Walden we read today is not simply a collection of his raw, day-to-day diary reflections. In fact, it wasn�ft until a few years later that he expanded and painstakingly polished the rough journal entries he made during his stay in the woods. Whatever the case, the writing in Walden is brilliant throughout.
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