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Walden; Or, Life in the Woods [Paperback]

Henry David Thoreau
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 12 1995 Dover Thrift Editions
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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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Henry David Thoreau's classic, first published in 1854 and reporting on his experiences at the eponymous site where he lived in physical and social independence during the mid-1840's, receives refreshing treatment here. William Hope reads leisurely but with feeling, offering listeners the illusion that the author is speaking directly to them. The abridgements are not substantive, so listeners will feel that they have become acquainted with the complexities of a text that is both orderly and sprinkled with irony and other literary devices. The chapters are tastefully set off by musical interludes that complement Thoreau's own rhythms. Not only is this an excellent alternative for students assigned to read the text that is often offered in tiny print without benefit of margins, but it is also possible to suggest this to thoughtful teens who are seeking an intellectually engaging listening experience for their personal enjoyment. Hope's pacing invites readers with minimal skills to accompany their print foray with his narration. The careful editing here assures that they will not become lost between page and sound.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Library Journal

This edition of Thoreau's classic contains an introduction and annotations by Bill McKibben, who asserts that "at the close of the 20th century, it is most crucial to read Walden as a practical environmentalist's volume, and to search for his heirs among those trying to change our relation to the planet." Even if you don't buy his argument, you still get a dandy little hardcover for $15.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Towering Work of American Literature March 30 2003
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life's Guide Not A Survival Guide 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought, Long after you Finish 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a man trying to shift for himself. 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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Most recent customer reviews
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 2 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 18 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
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 Michael Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars the most imspirational book ever.....
When I first heard about this author in one of my classes, I felt that it was the most boring pices of information that I haveever heard. Read more
Published on March 18 2004 by munson
5.0 out of 5 stars The better part of a man will be soon ploughed beneath the s
Thoreau is great. Even if you don't agree with him, even if you see his contradictory nature towards his teachings, even if you can't understand him, you can't deny that he is an... Read more
Published on March 16 2004 by Dr. Putnam
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