Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, 1 Aug 1995
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From the Back Cover
Nature was a form of religion for naturalist, essayist, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817 62). In communing with the natural world, he wished to "live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and learn what it had to teach." Toward that end Thoreau built a cabin in the spring of 1845 on the shores of Walden Pond on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson outside Concord, Massachusetts. There he observed nature, farmed, built fences, surveyed, and wrote in his journal.
One product of his two-year sojourn was this book a great classic of American letters. Interwoven with accounts of Thoreau's daily life (he received visitors and almost daily walked into Concord) are mediations on human existence, society, government, and other topics, expressed with wisdom and beauty of style.
Walden offers abundant evidence of Thoreau's ability to begin with observations on a mundane incident or the minutiae of nature and then develop these observations into profound ruminations on the most fundamental human concerns. Credited with influencing Tolstoy, Gandhi, and other thinkers, the volume remains a masterpiece of philosophical reflection."
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If you are fascinated by the anarchist ideal of living separate from 'social order' (i.e. government by others), and the naturists ambition of relying on what the environment provides, then I highly recommend this book. Not only is the 'idea' a grand one, but the way Thoreau expresses himself is so eloquent as to make this book a timeless classic.
Thoreau's thoughts are as relevant today as in his day and to any state. The statement that leapt out to me - "A very few--as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men--serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it." - is certainly still very true. This is a very quotable work and one that still has the power to inspire subjects the world over.
Without being revolutionary, without inciting uprising, Thoreau sought to make a difference in his own sphere. He also experienced the futility of it when everyone around sought to ensure he did not fall foul of the state. I can't help but wonder what he would make of the Internet and the power it has brought to us to raise a united voice against injustice. I would imagine he'd embrace it and use it to great effect.
What Thoreau above all conveys is a wish for a peaceful end to injustice enforced upon the minority by the majority and when taken into account that the minority is very often several minorities which add up to a greater number than the so called majority, a difference could be made if each person in the minorities made but a small stand.
So very relevant to today's world. How nice it would be if one day we could look back and say "but that doesn't apply anymore".
The copy I purchased on 13 May 2016 from Amazon - ISBN 9 780393 930900 - is of perfect quality. I need it for my next OU course so was a bit worried but there are no problems with my copy. The book is roughly the size of a DVD box (but thicker, 688 pages). The text inside is fine and full copyright and publishing information is there as expected. Font sizes are as expected and both front and rear covers are fine.
(I'm guessing the other reviewer accidentally received some mutant, misprinted edition)
It is not to be devoured at a single sitting and this, I suspect, is the reason for the poorer reviews this book has received. I have read the book through several times over by now, but rarely reading more than half a page before staring into the middle distance and drifting off thinking about it. To read it any other way is not to do it justice - or as Thoreau would put it "we might as well omit to study nature because she is old".
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