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Walden and Civil Disobedience Paperback – Aug 25 1983

4.1 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (Aug. 25 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140390448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140390445
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #219,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

A Note on the Text and Title of "Civil Disobedience" and the Text of Walden I. Civil Disobedience II. Walden 1. Economy 2. Where I Lived, and What I Lived For 3. Reading 4. Sounds 5. Solitude 6. Visitors 7. The Bean-Field 8. The Village 9. The Ponds 10. Baker Farm 11. Higher Laws 12. Brute Neighbors 13. House-Warming 14. Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors 15. Winter Animals 16. The Pond in Winter 17. Spring Conclusion III. Contexts and Comments Angelina E. Grimke, from "Appeal to the Christian Women of the South" (1836) William Whipper, from Speech Delivered at the First African Presbyterian Church (1837) William Lloyd Garrison, "Declaration of Sentiments" (1838) Orestes A. Brownson, from "The Labroring Classes" (1840) Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Man the Reformer" (1841) Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, from "Plan of the West Roxbury Community" (1842) Charles Lane and A. Bronson Alcott, from Letter to A. Brooke (1843) Henry Highland Garnet, "Address to the Slaves of the United States of America" (1843) George Ripley, "Life in Association" (1845) William Henry Channing, "To the Associationists of the United States" (1846) Louisa May Alcott, "Transcendental Wild Oats" (1873) Mary Wilkins Freman, "A Church Mouse" (1891) Leo Tolstoy, Letter to Dr. Eugen Heinrich Schmitt (n.d., c. 1895) Leo Tolstoy, "The Beginning of the End" John Albert Macy, "Thoreau" (1908) Mohandas K. Gandhi, A Selection from His Writings, 1919-1940 Martin Luther King, Jr., from Stride Toward Freedom (1958) Martin Luther King, Jr., "A Legacy of Creative Protest" (1962) Works Cited For Futher Reading --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

With their call for"simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!," for self-honesty, and for harmony with nature, the writings of Henry David Thoreau are perhaps the most influential philosophical works in all American literature. The selections in tis volume represent Thoreau at his best. Included in their entirety are "Walden, his indisputable masterpiece, and his two great arguments for nonconformity, "Civil Disobedience and "Life Without Principle. A lifetime of brilliant observation of nature -- and of himself -- is recorded in selections from "A Week On The Concord And Merrimack Rivers, Cape Cod, The Maine Woods and "The Journal. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
Teachers and Thoreau fans beware: this anthology contains heavily redacted versions of Thoreau's works and is not a reliable textual source. The version of _A Week_ is missing huge chunks of vital material, though the editor claims that he has included a complete version. Many titles and smaller details are wrong as well. The source editions for this anthology are pre-WWII. Much has changed for the better in the interim, and you cheat yourself by not ordering a more recent anthology--the Library of America one is excellent, textually impeccable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 out at the edge of each page. I keep it in the living room and often read from it. It is also an attractive volume.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arrived in perfect condition. Font is on the smaller/medium scale and there isn't much spacing.
Not a big deal, but if you have poor eyes you might want to look for something a little more easy to read.
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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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Format: Hardcover
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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