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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Towering Work of American Literature
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...
Published on March 30 2003

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars This Book Needed One Heck of a Good Editor
I've read a lot of books in my time, but never one this bad. There is literally no plot at all. Any good writer of fiction knows that you need rising action, and then a climax. I kept waiting for the plot to show up, but there was none. If Thoreau had taken my advice he would have gone bear hunting, and chased some Indians with a gun, then maybe find a good woman to...
Published on July 30 2002 by Mister Quickly


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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
This review is from: Walden (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
By 
Lance Kirby (Portsmouth, OH) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (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
By 
Kieran Fox (Alam al-Mithal) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (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
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (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. Foremost, Thoreau was a writer�ca profoundly masterful one at that.
People read his Walden for a variety of reasons. I read it because it speaks with an immortal voice...and every word, phrase and sentence resounds with transcendent clarity. This simple little book is so full of hope, wisdom and inspiration that one can read it a thousand times and each time discover a new kernel of brilliance or vision.
During his lifetime, traditional success would never be his. But you would have had to argue with him over the definition of success. "The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind," the author so wisely said. It is precisely because of such profundity that his "success" is guaranteed for as long as people still read good books.
"Follow your genius closely enough and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour." --H.D.T.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, Feb. 13 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Walden (Hardcover)
This edition of the book is of excellent quality Well-crafted and binding, although is a hard cover book it's tiny 3" ' X 6" with tiny type.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book as souvenir, Aug. 18 2001
By 
"jostreehouse" (Springfield, Missouri United States) - See all my reviews
On Easter of 2000 I visited Concord, Massachusetts, and purchased this volume in a gift shop just across Rt. 62 from the site of Henry's cabin. It had been raining the entire trip, but armed with my coat of many pockets, my backpack, and my umbrella, I entered and "sauntered" about the gift shop, glad to get out of the cold dampness if only for a moment. I picked up a couple of the customary t-shirts one needs as souvenirs when traveling and then found myself in the book section, drawn to the items which enthrall me wherever I go. One book stood out-not because I needed it, for I had a copy at home that was given to me by a friend for my birthday one year, but because of the photo on the cover. Whoever had designed the cover had actually BEEN to Walden, and the proof was the wet leaf among the terra firma known as the Pond. With an accompanying introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, I couldn't refuse. The cover still touches me, but I have taken to reading books and giving them away afterward, a habit that I am almost sure that Henry would love. I instead remember Walden in other ways, as rain falling on cedars. Walden to me is always Easter, always Earth Day, always truth, and most of all, always a reminder that my life is not mean or poor but rich and ready for picking. The chapters relying on Spring, Economy, Reading, and most of all the swelling Conclusion, like a gentle coda after the soaring symphony, remind me of what still waits, regardless of how old I am, and how old I will get.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider the source, July 6 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (Paperback)
I am always curious to see other opinions about books that have had a profound impact on my life. Seeing some of the one-star ratings for WALDEN surprised me. But as I read them, I could see: First, that apparently two readers decided to skew the results and write several reviews (lacking Thoreau's sylistic flair, or any flair at all, they use pretty much the same words); and, second, that potential-buyers should consider the source of these criticisms. Do we wonder why Thoreau's intellectual grace eludes them? I think not.
WALDEN gives us glimmers of American creativity at a time when this is all-too hard to find. Read de Tocqueville, sure, but read Emerson and Thoreau as ballast.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America's Finest Naturalist Philosopher, May 25 2001
By 
Jay Oksim (Pittsford, VT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (Paperback)
I congratulate and credit my high school Literature teacher for first englightening me to Thoreau and Walden, and I have enjoyed both regularly ever since. I was disappointed to see the negative reviews, but I was not at all surprised. Thoreau is for the rare individual, as he was a rare individual himself. Few will be able to appreciate his keenness of thought, his breadth of perspective, his striving for some measures of worthy improvement while remaining content. Thoreau has been unserviceably miscategorized by subsequent generations. For example, he is really neither a transcendentalist nor the progenitor of the modern "civil disobedience" tactic (read his essay by the same name, and note that Thoreau himself was jailed and accepted that consequence). Thoreau was first a naturalist and observer and second a philosopher and writer. This should aid you in gauging whether Walden will be an interesting read to you. Thoreau is challenging for idealists, because he strove to experience and practice his ideals and was at liberty to do this (he had no dependents). Finally, Thoreau is an adept writer, and his natural flow of literary devices are satisfying for even the subtlest reader. Walden is one of the crowning works of America's finest literary, intellectual, and philosophical offerings.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!, Nov. 22 2003
By 
merrymousies (Waterford, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (Paperback)
I had not read this growing up but wish I had. This is such a wonderful book. There are not many pictures in here - just a hand drawn map in one part of the book. Its excerpts from Thoreau's journal over the two year period when he lived on Walden's pond. He did not live like a recluse (he went in to Concord almost every day) so its not a book about living alone per se. Its more about reflecting on life, considering why one "is" and recognizing the beauty and mystery of nature around us every day, everywhere. Thoreau talks of regular daily things too like what it costs him to farm, or having cider, or building a chimney. The writing style is conversational, open, honest. He doesn't try to get tricky with words, he just tells it like he sees it. It's so beautiful. For anyone (like me) who indeed sees nature as their "religion" or sees the Great Spirit in every leaf, tree and bug, this book will be adored. So many wonderful messages, thoughts, woven throughout this book. Its an incredible work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book quality review for 'Walden', Feb. 11 2011
This review is from: Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (Paperback)
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.
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Walden; Or, Life in the Woods
Walden; Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau (Paperback - April 12 1995)
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