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Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback]

Henry David Thoreau
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Aug 1995 Dover Thrift Editions
One of the great books of American letters and a masterpiece of reflective philosophizing. Accounts of Thoreau's daily life on the shores of Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts, are interwoven with musings on the virtues of self-reliance and individual freedom, on society, government, and other topics.

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Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Dover Thrift Editions) + Self Reliance (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (1 Aug 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486284956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486284958
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 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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84 of 89 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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21 of 22 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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11 of 12 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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19 of 21 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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get into it 31 Mar 2010
Walden is a very heavy read. I must confess I couldn't get past the first few chapters. The writing style was just too inaccessible, which is a shame, because once you get past that, there does seem to be some thought provoking content. I highly recommend picking this up before buying it to see if you'll be able to cope with it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful account of a simple life. 22 Feb 2012
By Outis
If I could only recommend one book to somebody, it would be this. A beautifully written account of 'Life in the Woods', and subsequent musings on a myriad of topics. Thoreau left behind the daily grind, built a log cabin, and the insights gained thereof are the sort of wisdom that this grumpy plastic bureaucracy we live in would do well to learn from.
On one page, a poetic description of the surrounding wildlife, on the next a scathing critique of materialism. I would never have expected that somebody could write beautifully about growing beans in a field, and indeed use it as a metaphor for life as a whole.
I can't help but think, if everybody read this book and took heed of it's message of simple living, we would all be happier for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry David Thoreau and Hindu scriptures 29 Mar 2011
Reading through the pages of this book makes you wonder if the author was a hermit and a heretic or a social reformer, or a mystical philosopher. "On Walden Pond" sounds similar to the classic movie "On Golden Pond," starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. There are some similarities; in both stories the lead characters go and live near a secluded lake (pond) to spend their lives, but Thoreau goes a step forward to find himself and his soul when he can't accept the status quo of life. His journey is to find the truth that is beyond the apparent reality: A search for transcendental truth of Bhagavadgita and Upanishads. His search for the nature of soul is found in the tranquility of Walden Pond when he states that, "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta, since whose com¬position years of the gods have elapsed, and in com¬parison with which our modem world and its litera¬ture seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our con¬ceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! There I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautiful shiny new edition, a fascinating read.
Published 5 days ago by Fauna
4.0 out of 5 stars I found this book rather slow going - I understand ...
I found this book rather slow going - I understand it to be much more highly rated in US than here. I felt readers were being invited to view it as an account of a solitary,... Read more
Published 20 days ago by dorothy mary collins D M Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Item as described - A1
Published 1 month ago by R. H. Clements
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very dry but fantastic if you persevere.
Published 2 months ago by c.l.jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, great for loners like me who want to ...
Good, great for loners like me who want to shack up with a few beans and bowls of rice.
Published 2 months ago by PHaire
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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 7 months ago by G.Petersen
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