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Walden (Shambhala Library) [Hardcover]

Henry David Thoreau

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Book Description

21 Nov 2008 Shambhala Library
In July 1845, Henry David Thoreau built a small cottage in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. During the two years and two months he spent there, he began to write Walden, a chronicle of his communion with nature that became one of the most influential and compelling books in American literature. Since its first publication on August 9, 1854, by Ticknor and Fields, the work has become a classic, beloved for its message of living simply and in harmony with nature.



This edition of Walden features exquisite wood engravings by Michael McCurdy, one of America’s leading engravers and woodblock artists. McCurdy’s engravings bring the text to life—and illuminate the spirit of Thoreau’s prose. Also included is a foreword by noted author, environmentalist, and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams who reflects upon Thoreau’s message that as we explore our world and ourselves, we draw ever closer to the truth of our connectedness.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; Reprint edition (21 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590306384
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590306383
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,042,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  307 reviews
235 of 243 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflecting Pond 8 Jan 2000
By Nancy Wisser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Walden, what is it? Is it a book on nature, a book on ecology, a book on human nature, a prescient description of the struggle between modern civilization and the land that nurtured it, a critique of mankind, a string of quotable gems, an account of a mind, or, like Star Wars, a way of slipping a deep and human spirituality into someone else's mind without their recognizing it? It depends on who is doing the reading and when. Read it for any of these purposes, and it will not disappoint. If you've never read it, read it. If you read it for class years ago and hated it, read it again. This may be the most subtle, multi-layered and carefully worked piece of literature you'll ever find. By keeping the down-to-earth tone (no doubt in reaction to the high-flying prose of his friend, R.W. Emerson) Thoreau pulls a Columbo, and fools us into thinking he's writing simply about observing nature, living in a cabin, or sounding a pond. Somehow by the end of Walden, however, you may find it is your self he has sounded. People have accused Thoreau of despising mankind, but read deeper and you will discover he loved people well enough to chide us, show us our faults (admitting he's as bad as the worst of us), and give to all of us this wonderful gift, a book you could base your life on. There is more day to dawn, he reminds us at the end: the sun is but a morning star.
199 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the annotated Waldens 18 Aug 2004
By Corinne H. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
WALDEN has rarely been out-of-print since its first publication in 1854. Copies come in all sizes, shapes and price ranges. Today's Thoreauvians have three ANNOTATED versions of WALDEN to choose from. Each one provides same-page explanatory notes that help the reader interpret the sometimes esoteric references in Henry David Thoreau's original text. The three books are "The Annotated Walden" (edited by Philip Van Doren Stern, 1970), "Walden: An Annotated Edition" (edited by Walter Harding, 1995), and "Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition" (edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer, 2004). Each one has at least one map of Concord and/or Walden Pond. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Each one has appeal for a devoted audience.

"Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition" by Jeffrey S. Cramer was released in August 2004, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the original publication date. Cramer is the curator of collections for The Thoreau Institute and therefore has access to some of the best primary and secondary source material available -- including Walter Harding's notes. In addition to the text of WALDEN, this volume includes a few "extras": an introduction to Thoreau's life but only as it applies to his cabin stay and WALDEN writing; a bibliography; notes on the text; and a detailed index. The explanatory notes -- the essence of an annotated edition -- are quite extensive. They are set off from the WALDEN text with page-within-a-page graphic detailing and are easy to read. Cramer did not merely merge Van Doren Stern's and Harding's previous notes with those from David Gorman Rohman's dissertation. His analysis at times echoes that of Harding, but when it does, Cramer often goes one step further with a definition or citation. He has thoughtfully used a "Notes on the Text" appendix to outline HDT's wording differences in the various drafts of the work. Thus his annotations are not bogged down by minor editorial alterations that the casual reader may not care about. Unlike Harding, Cramer refrains from expressing personal opinions and lets the research speak for itself. An added bonus is a reproduction of Edward Emerson's map of Walden Pond which shows the location of Thoreau's bean-field as Waldo's son remembered it. The only cumbersome quality in this publication is the placement of WALDEN chapter titles at the bottom of the pages instead of the top. This otherwise stellar volume is beautifully presented with a cover photo of the cabin reproduction as it currently stands in Walden Pond State Recreation Area. A classy edition by all accounts.

Lining up the three versions side by side is an interesting experiment, best conducted on a rainy summer day when no other work has appeal. Let's use two well-known and oft-debated passages for an initial sample interpretive comparison.

"I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail." ("Economy") Do those three animals stand for actual individuals in Thoreau's life? Or does this passage simply refer to Life's losses? Philip Van Doren Stern devotes a page-length note to this paragraph. He mentions a few of the major interpretations and refers readers to the bibliography for more. His conclusion is: "Since there is no clear explanation, each reader will have to supply his own." Walter Harding offers three pages in a special appendix that covers all the major theories. At the end, he too suggests that "each reader is free to interpret them as he wishes." Jeffrey Cramer's paragraph cites two similiar excerpts found in other Thoreau pieces, and his explanation states that "no analysis has been generally accepted as valid." So the three men agree: we have to decide for ourselves what we think of the story.

"There was an artist in the city of Kouroo who was disposed to strive after perfection." ("Conclusion") Is the parable that follows that opening sentence based on some of the Eastern texts that Thoreau was fond of reading at the time? Or is it a thinly-disguised depiction of his own struggle to perfect the final WALDEN manuscript? Philip Van Doren Stern simply says that "no one has been able to find a source for the legend" and agrees with Arthur Christy that it is an allegory about Thoreau's own life. Walter Harding offers several possible origins of the legend but eventually cites and agrees with Christy's allegory statement. Jeffrey Cramer devotes just a two-sentence annotation, concluding with "It is generally agreed that the following fable is by Thoreau." In this instance, Cramer has the benefit of time over his colleagues. Most Thoreauvians have come to the same realization during the past decade after much gnashing of teeth.

Explanatory differences are more pronounced at other various junctures in the text. Each man obviously was intrigued by certain references more than others. I can say that overall, I found Jeffrey Cramer's annotations to be the most helpful of the three. Maybe someday someone will have the courage to tell all the makers of posters, bumper stickers, and t-shirts that "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in" is NOT about fishing at all.

Every school and public library should own at least one of these annotated editions. Academic libraries will want at least two of the three versions. If you want a book that has a lot more HDT than just WALDEN, find a used copy of the Philip Van Doren Stern book. If you want to hear from expert Walter Harding, choose his. Individuals who want the most comprehensive interpretation should go with the newest volume by Jeffrey Cramer. It's a worthy addition to the Thoreau legacy.
78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible! 22 Nov 2003
By merrymousies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable for Walden readers 28 Feb 2000
By jd103 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Walter Harding was one of the greatest Thoreau scholars. His annotations include explanations of puns I hadn't understood, sources of quotes and references in the text, and information about Thoreau's time. I also learned that one of my favorite places in Concord was referred to by Thoreau as Fairyland Pond.
The book also includes a map of the area in Thoreau's time, reproductions of HDT's manuscript pages, drawings and excerpts from his journal, and his map of Walden Pond with water depths he determined.
I wouldn't say the book is perfect--there are still a few obscure references without notes, and some notes for points that are obvious--but it's as close as anyone is likely to come.
Be sure to also read Harding's The Days of Henry Thoreau, a great biography.
139 of 152 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing quotes 30 May 2010
By Neil C. Obremski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Besides irritating formatting issues (as Mr. Wiggings mentioned in his review), I got over a quarter way through before realizing that the quotes are missing! I'd see many lines that just seemed to end with half a thought and a comma or double-dash, with nothing to punctuate his statement (price, poem, song, etc.). I just grabbed the MOBI version from Project Gutenberg ([...]) and everything seems to be in order. However be aware that THAT version has no table of contents (DOH!).

So ... it's free, yes, but you're missing out on key elements of the book if you download this.
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