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The Heart of Thoreau's Journals Paperback – 28 Mar 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; 2nd Revised edition edition (28 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486207412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486207414
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,065,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Henry David Thoreau was born (1817), died, and lived most of his life in Concord Massachusetts, where the American Revolution against British colonial rule began. Educated at Harvard, Thoreau was an avid reader - in five languages- of everything from classical literature and Hindu and Chinese philosophy through narratives of travel and early American settlement, to works on the flora and fauna of his native region. Taking an active part in current political and ethical debates, Thoreau became a courageous, outspoken opponent of federal government policies, such as the expansionist war against Mexico and the refusal of Congress to legislate against southern slavery. Though he loved books about discovery and travel, Thoreau wandered neither frequently nor over a great distance. Thoreau kept a journal of his thoughts and observations exceeding two million words by the end of his life. He died, in Concord, in 1862.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lisa on 27 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the used book bought from oxfam is in a very good and new-like quality. I am very happy about the item and shopping.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
"Write while the heat is in you." 18 May 2002
By OAKSHAMAN - Published on
Format: Paperback
I once sat through a very snide speech, by a very snide editor, who pontificated in a very snide manner, that "no one wants to read your journals." This editor was of course a fool- the very best writing is to be found in personal journals. Nowhere is this demonstrated to be more true than in Thoreau's. Or as he himself put it,"The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience." Well, these writings inflame the mind. Thoreau was that rarest of of divine gifts, a true Individual. I often wonder if he did not represent the highest point that anyone in our society ever reached- the high water mark of a civilization before steam engines, corporations, and mass education reduced us to our present state.

I was concerned that the journals might suffer by editing, especially if an academic type with a deconstructionist ax to grind got his hands on them. Mr. Shepard's brief introduction put my mind to rest. He obviously has a close sympathy with the spirit of Henry David Thoreau and his selections are masterful. As Shepard puts it: "With a fit audience, though few, he is likely to win a more thoughtful reading now that individuals are so obviously withering among us, now that men are quite obviously enslaved by machines, now that we have floundered about as far as we can in the bogs of stupidity, greed, and cowering compliance that he warned us against long ago."

If _Walden_ spoke to you, these journal entries will speak even more strongly to you. This is the spring from which _Walden_ and all the rest sprang. This is the soul of Thoreau. It is the soul of the true America before the Byzantine rot set in.

There is one line from the very first year of the journals that has never ceased to inspire me: "All fear of the world or consequences is swallowed up in a manly anxiety to do Truth justice."
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
At Once the Cheapest and Most Valuable of Books 24 Feb. 2002
By Bay Gibbons - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The words of some men are thrown forcibly against you and adhere like burs." Thoreau's Journal, June 4, 1839. This is certainly true with me and this book.
No book that I own -- aside from Scripture -- is more valuable to me than this slim one. I have reread it countless times, usually while sitting of a warm or cool evening beneath the trees waiting for the stars to troop out.
In Walden Thoreau speaks of Alexander carrying the Iliad in a precious cask with him on his journeys. This is book worthy to be carried with me on my journey.
As I read and reread this book it causes me to look on everything I have ever thought, done or believed in a new and startlingly new light.
This little paperback is at once one of the cheapest and most valuable books I own.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This is the Best Thoreau anthology! 4 Nov. 2000
By Van Tunstall - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have read most of Thoreau's works, including his journals. The Heart of Thoureau's Journals expands on his themes without having to go through the minatue of his daily writings. Here's a sample- you be the judge:
"Live each season as it passes- breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each. In August, live on berries, not dried meat and pemmican, as if you were on shipboard making your way through a waste ocean. Open all your pores and bathe in all the tides of Nature, in all her streams and oceans, at all seasons.
Grow green with spring, yellow and ripe with Autumn. Drink of each season's influence as a vial, a true panacea of all remedies mixed for your especial use.
Drink the wine, not of your bottling, but of Nature's bottling. Let Nature do your bottling and pickling and preserving. For all Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well.She exists for no other end. Do not resist her. With the least inclination to be well, we should not be sick. Why, "Nature" is but another name for health, and the seasons are but different states of health."
There are 228 pages filled with this kind of wisdom- What a bargain for eight bucks!!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
"The Roaring Of The Wind Is My Wife" 24 Jun. 2003
By The Wingchair Critic - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'The Heart Of Thoreau's Journals' provides readers with an intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of American literature's premier individualist.

Consolidated into 218 concise pages by Odell Shepard from the thirty-nine volumes Thoreau left behind upon his death at forty-five in 1862, the journals reveal Thoreau as an irreverent and shrewd observer of the human character who was happily fated with the gift of forever seeing the king riding proudly in public without clothes ("The mass never comes up the standard of its best member, but on the contrary degrades itself to the level with the lowest," "After all, the field of battle possesses many advantages over the drawing-room. There is at least no room for pretension or excessive ceremony, no shaking of hands or rubbing of noses, which makes one doubt your sincerity, but hearty as well as hard hand-play. It at least exhibits one of the faces of humanity, the former only a mask," "This lament for a golden age is only a lament for golden men").

Requiring solitude in the manner most require food and shelter, the philosophical, ascetic Thoreau lived most of his life in isolation ("The poet must keep himself unstained and aloof") as an ardent lover and keen observer of the natural world ("All of nature is my bride," "My profession is to be always on the alert to find God in nature, to know his lurking-places, to attend all the oratorios, the operas, in nature").

A comedic misanthrope ("I have lived some thirty-odd years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors," "The society of young women is the most unprofitable I have ever tried"), Thoreau also wrote with sympathy, understanding, and concern about the townspeople whose company he preferred not to keep.

Even his plain-spoken contempt for the boorish, the smug, the pretentious and the assertively conformist ("What men call social virtues, good fellowship, is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter, which lie close together to keep each other warm") was often tempered with humanity and matter-of-fact acceptance for the inevitable variations of man's psychology. The simple, the genuine, the uncomplicated and the sincere came in for high marks in Thoreau's estimation of people, places, and things.

A Harvard graduate who was born and spent most of his life in New England, bachelor Thoreau set the standard and defined the blueprint for all introverted American artists and thinkers to come.

Though Thoreau wrote incessantly and found work as a lecturer, schoolteacher, editor, and tutor at different periods of his life, he typically worked as a gardener, handyman or land surveyor, and spent a particularly frustrating period working in his father's pencil factory.

Though he knew himself to be misunderstood by most, Thoreau was uncomplaining ("Ah! How I have thriven on solitude and poverty! I cannot overstate this advantage"), confident, ultimately self-satisfied, and generally unconcerned with what, if anything, future generations would make of him.

The respect, acknowledgement, and honor of society meant far less to him than his day-to-day, moment-to-moment freedom to continue to enjoy his perceptions, sensations, and ideas, which he rightfully understood to be his life's work and birthright.

As one of the founders of Transcendentalism, the idealistic Thoreau was a dryly passionate believer in man's capacity to overcome mundane (and often self-imposed) obstacles, identify and focus his attention on the eternal fundamentals of life, and enjoy personal communion with God by utilizing nature as a lens.

The journals abound with declarative passages which readers have found enlightening, guiding, and inspirational for generations ("Despair and postponement are cowardice and defeat. Men were born to succeed, and not to fail," "We forever and ever and habitually underrate our fate...ninety-nine and one-hundredths of our lives we are mere hedgers and ditchers, but from time to time we meet with reminders of our destiny").

Thoreau's journals, along with key American text and masterpiece 'Walden,' represent the cream of his work.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Quintessential 10 Jan. 2004
By Puff - Published on
Format: Paperback
I found this book on the shelf at my school's library after I had read a selection of Ralph Waldo Emerson's in which he praised Thoreau for being a particularly clear-seeing individual. I had never read Thoreau and did not know who he was, but this book immediately became my most valued possession after my own journal.

The editor did a wonderful job of selecting from Thoreau's many (often tedious) writings those that offer most in the way of communicating what he felt about life, love, society, government, death, religion, nature, science, beauty and self. The writing is in many ways flawless. Along with Emerson and Whitman, Thoreau embodied the spirit of American Transcendentalism, the philosphy under which one aspired to realize a world beyong the physical and social world. "The Heart of Thoreau's Journals" is the best evidence that Henry David Thoreau realized such a world and lived contently in it many of the days of his life.

This book is probably the best possible choice for anyone looking to read or know Thoreau. It is necessarily as honest as any other work. And unlike "Walden" or other commercially-produced works, it lacks the endless musings and explanations of ideas and events for the audience's information. It is only the bare naked thoughts and feelings of the author. I would suggest it as preliminary reading for anyone who wants to read his other books. It will give you the foundation of an appreciation for Thoreau that puts all other work in proper perspective.
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