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Walden; Or, Life in the Woods [Paperback]

Henry David Thoreau
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 12 1995 0486284956 978-0486284958 1
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. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

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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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Towering Work of American Literature March 30 2003
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life's Guide Not A Survival Guide Jan. 29 2002
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Classic, made accessible. Jan. 29 2010
Walden is of course the call to arms for the ecological movement, and has been for quite some time. The book, flawed and bloated as it is, with far too much space devoted to detailed descriptions and measurements, has a meaty core, one which has inspired and motivated people since it's original publishing.

The annotations really help in reading Walden, due to the age of the language, and the period nature of the slang and jargon.

From a cosmetic point of view, this is the best edition of Walden, hands down. The hard cover has a wonderful green leaf imprint, and the cover is an inset depiction of the cabin. I am not sure if the book is supposed to have a dust jacket or not, but I am glad that my copy is as it is.

Reccomended for everyone except introductory students, since your professor will likely reccomend a cheaper paperback edition, choosing his lecturing over the annotations. That being said, if you feel you want to own a nice copy of the book, and don't mind paying the little extra this edition costs, it *is* by far the superior edition.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By the time I had finished "Walden", the book was strewn front to back with bright yellow highlighting and scrawled with notes in the margins. So dense in content, a single page sometimes seemed to burst with infinite wisdom. Having read "Walden", I feel my view of life and existence has radically altered. I have escaped my chains and shed my shackles, emerging from Plato's Cave! How blinding and awesome this flood of light be.

"Walden" is rich with ideas. Ideas concerning economics, society, and nature; materialism, consumerism; happiness and 'the meaning of life'. Ideas which often leap from the pages and hit with sobering force. He reveals how close-minded we are - even those of us who pride ourselves as being "open-minded"...

"As I stand over the insect crawling over the pine needles on the forest floor, and endeavouring to conceal itself from my sight, and ask myself why it will cherish those humble thoughts, and hide its head from me perhaps as its benefactor, and impart to its race some cheering information, I am reminded of the greater benefactor and intelligence that stands over me the human insect," referring to the universality of nature and the cosmos. At times it is almost like reading Carl Segan rather some some musty old 19th century writer.

Some will complain about its 'slow pace', or lengthy descriptions of nature. Others will say it is far too idealistic, and has little application to the 'real world'. To these folks I respectfully assert that you did not READ "Walden"; quite frankly, it went over your head.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This particular edition is a great one because of the extensive
As a Thoreau fan I have owned quite a number of copies of his works over the years. This particular edition is a great one because of the extensive, informative notes nicely laid... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sturdy Shoes
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read Classic
If you love nature and life's journey of self discovery this book is a timeless blast of fresh air in simplicity. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Zen Raven
2.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, but
This book is very hard to read. I forced myself to read it to the end.

His ideas were probably revolutionary in his day and they do have some relevance even today. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Peter Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Book quality review for 'Walden'
Book arrived very quickly (about a week) and is in perfect condition. Absolutely no bent pages, knicks in the coverpage, etc. Price was good too.
Published on Feb. 11 2011 by Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought, Long after you Finish
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... Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2010 by Kieran Fox
1.0 out of 5 stars What's the Big Deal?
What on earth is the big deal about this man? I was enthralled when I first read the book and then, WHAM, utterly disappointed (and disgusted) when I learned the true facts. Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2009 by Avid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars What an incredible book
Once you start reading it, you won't be able to set it down. I even got yelled at by my boss for reading the book on company time. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2007 by Maree J. Drew
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflective, yet limited
Thoreau was a reflective man. He asked pertinent questions, but just didn't go far enough in his search. As a pagan, he was unaware of the realities of Jesus Christ. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr.
1.0 out of 5 stars INSOMNIA'S CURE
I first read Solitude in high school(over 10 years ago), not as part of the regular curriculum but for US Academic Decathlon. To think about it even now still bores me. Read more
Published on May 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars What an inspiration!
Even though I live in Australia in 2004, I found this 19th century book sensational!
I cannot reccomend it highly enough: witty, intelligent, honest, articulate and timeless.
Published on April 12 2004 by Emily M. Forrester
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