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Walden (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Henry David Thoreau , Stephen Allen Fender
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

13 Nov 2008 Oxford World's Classics
'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation' In 1845 Henry David Thoreau left his home town of Concord, Massachusetts to begin a new life alone, in a rough hut he built himself a mile and a half away on the north-west shore of Walden Pond. Walden is Thoreau's classic autobiographical account of this experiment in solitary living, his refusal to play by the rules of hard work and the accumulation of wealth and above all the freedom it gave him to adapt his living to the natural world around him. This new edition of Walden traces the sources of Thoreau's reading and thinking and considers the author in the context of his birthplace and his sense of its history - social, economic and natural. In addition, an ecological appendix provides modern identifications of the myriad plants and animals to which Thoreau gave increasingly close attention as he became acclimatized to his life in the woods by Walden Pond. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reissue edition (13 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199538069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199538065
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Authors

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Product Description


"Each [volume] is preceded by a substantive, lively and idiosyncratic essay. . . . Together, the essays are a mini-course in Thoreau and the trends he launched in American thought."--Nancy Szokan, Washington Post Book World --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stephen Allen Fender is Professor of American Studies and Director of the Graduate Research Centre in the Humanities, School of English and American Studies at the University of Sussex. His books include Plotting the Golden West: American Literature and the Rhetoric of the California Trail and Sea Changes: British Emigration and American Literature. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817 and is known for his extreme individualism, his preference for simple, austere living, and revolt against the demands of society and government. His other works are A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), Civil Disobedience (1849), Excursions, (1863) and The Maine Woods (1864).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jewel 11 Dec 2003
By Jimbob
I find it hard to believe that the above reviewers are talking about the same book. This book is one of my personal treasures. Thoreau seems to embody the intelligence and wit of a great thinker with a childlike enthusiasm and excitement about the beauty of the natural world. When you combine that with his desire to live life and his respect for even the most humble of his fellow men you are in for some profound literature. This is not a book to be scan read or rushed through. Savour it, I don't see how you could be disappointed.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to live simply 11 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Walden is a masterpiece by Thoreau, about his years living in a cabin by a lake. He explains the advantages of a vegetarian way of life, saving money otherwise spent on meat, coffee and tobacco. It is the perfect book to take with you for that quiet retreat. I read it on Bardsey Island, living in a simple cottage in peace and tranquillity, and it has inspired me to simplify my life!Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Dover Thrift)
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
And `Tis a shame that I cannot claim this is a re-read after 40 years or so. I can only cite the very well-worn cliché: Better late than never.

Walden is a pond, just outside Concord, Massachusetts, and for two years in the mid-1840's Henry David Thoreau lived a largely solitary existence there, in a simple wooden cabin which he constructed. This book is a collection of his mediations on the natural world, and a person's place in it. Thoreau also ruminates on an individual's place in society and certainly demurs about the hurly-burly existence led by so many, or, in an expression that I had always attributed to T. S. Eliot, but was first coined by him: "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

The first third of the book is on "economy," and the house that he built near Walden. He describes his labor, and provides a table indicating the total cost, and compares that with the annual rental cost of housing. Similarly, he covers his food, clothing and fuel expenses (the "essentials"), and the underlying theme remains the subject verse, taken from a Shaker song, "Simple Gifts," written about the same time: if you simplify your life, and rid yourself of the bondage of so much self-imposed clutter, you really are much freer, and that includes having the opportunity to take a ramble in the woods, which was a major aspect of his two years at Walden. As Thoreau phrased it: "Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This is a book to be pondered, to be read slowly, a book worth the effort to read in order to understand what Thoreau is saying, and to see the application to him- or herself, now, today. As happens with great writing, the reader is changed by this book. Even in reading the first few pages, the reader has a profound experience. Multiply that by reading Walden in entirety and the reader emerges a different person. However, the reader must be willing to enter into Thoreau's world and his experience. Readers who find such writing tedious are, one suspects, too used to reading fast-paced novels. For those with an interest in history, philosophy, the human condition, truth in reality, and simply in having an educated mind, there is no greater work. Walden is truly a world classic.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a different brand of spirituality 15 Sep 2000
By A Customer
although reading about potatos and bean fields is less than thrilling,Thoreau's simple and impactful words strike a chord and directly address the side of us that so easily becomes overshadowed in a consumerist society. With lines of such force as "Men do not own their homes, but rather the homes own the men", Thoreau's view of life as it should be is revolutionary, fuel for human change.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard work 22 Oct 2002
Not the spiritually ascendant promotion of natural living that some seem to believe, Walden is an account of the time Thoreau lived on his own at Walden Pond. At times introspective yet deep, at other times tedious and slow, the book contains moments wherein the author seems to read aloud from the collective human soul; for these moments, which will strike a chord in anyone, the book is worth a read. However it is a product of it's time, and to people who do not much care how many dollars and cents could have been spent in the 19th century to build a wooden hut in a forest, there is a certain amount of sorting wheat from the chaff. A book for those with patience, and lots of it, but there is a reward there if you dig deep enough.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy, not a record or instruction manual 11 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Walden was not what I was expecting in one way, in that it isn't a very complete record of how Thoreau actually lived. Yes there are details of his plantings and his accounts, but I was expecting it to be more hands-on in the details of self-sufficiency. However, that is not to say I was disappointed by any means, rather the book is full of WHY he lived in this way and that is much more valuable and interesting. Nearly every page has some deceptively simple thought that opens the mind and allows one to see the world in a different way. He is at his strongest when considering the human condition, and it is worth persevering through some of the denser passages as taken overall this has to be considered a classic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsuspected Pleasure
I got this without any great expectation but more with a sense of duty that it is something one ought to have read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Trumpeter
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
Complete bore from beginning to end. Get a life and do something more interesting than read this crap. The book sucks.
Published 2 months ago by Phil
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man of Strong Opinions
....about everything. Barmy, verbose, erudite &, at times, extraordinarily moving. A study in self-imposed solitude & about 100 years ahead of the pack in terms of concern for the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Doris H
1.0 out of 5 stars A book of gobbledygook
What a waste of 77p buying this book. It is almost nonsensical in content . It is a book about nothingness. I would recommend that you do not buy
Published 5 months ago by D. hickson
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting reading
Present to my son and he find the book very interesting, as he spend a lot of his spare time in the wood.
Published 5 months ago by G.Petersen
4.0 out of 5 stars Observing Nature. Philosophical and insightful.
Walden continues with the same theme and exploration set out by other influential nineteenth century transcendental philosophers, most notably, Thoreau's great mentor and friend... Read more
Published 10 months ago by TS
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Bought as a gift. The reciepent is delighted with the book. I am delighted with the price and the quick service.
Published 10 months ago by c woosey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Excellent condition my friend will love his present. The book has arrived and it looks amazing if I say so myself
Published 13 months ago by kelv
1.0 out of 5 stars walden
absolutely terrible ordered and paid for book 14th march. promised by 4th april still waiting and getting run around by book depository.
Published 14 months ago by tombeverleytom beverley
3.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Interesting, and worthwhile, but quite hard going at times. The description he gives of the countryside and animals, human and otherwise, are often poetically beautiful.
Published 14 months ago by Sal
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