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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)
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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,697 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Henry D. Thoreau's classic "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" is published now as a new paperback edition and includes an introduction by noted writer John McPhee. This work--unusual for its symbolism and structure, its criticism of Christian institutions, and its many-layered storytelling--was Thoreau's first published book.

In the late summer of 1839, Thoreau an
paper, 415 pages
Published June 13th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 1849)
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At times this work seems a leisurely pastoral, at times a zoological exploration. Of most interest to me, however, are the times when Thoreau uses his travels as a framework on which to construct philosophical musings only tangentially related to the trip itself; for example, he has a fascinating long discussion about religion, the church, and Christianity that sheds light on his own beliefs in the context of his times. I personally find Thoreau’s iconoclastic perspectives refreshing and his rej ...more
Best book ever written, not the easiest to read but poetically intoxicating.
Howard Olsen
Throeau's admirers laud him as a nature writer, and often describe this work as a "journal" recording a week's worth of river travel in Van Buren-era Massachusetts. This will not prepare you for the profound pilosophical and literary qualities found in this book. This is no journal. The seven days on the river are a framing device for Thoreau's extended thoughts on nature, religon, America, friendship, fish, and anything else that might cross his mind. Living as we do in an age of specialization ...more
Webster Bull
Dec 11, 2014 Webster Bull marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stalled

I thought it might be smart to read Thoreau's "Week on the Concord and Merrimack" because I am planning to spend at least a week walking along the Merrimack next spring. What did Thoreau find there when he and his brother John ran upriver and down between Lowell, Massachusetts, and Hooksett, New Hampshire, I wondered to myself? How did he describe it? How has it changed? Maybe I could learn something about that neck of the woods from one of the greats.

I might better have studied a
a wonderfully sloppier, more circular version of Walden
Walden by Henry David Thoreau

In March of 1845, 29 year-old Thoreau borrowed an axe and went into Walden woods about a mile and a half from Concord, Massachusetts to build a simple cabin in which he lived the next two years alone. In 1854 he published Walden in which he describes his getting away from it all so he could read, write, observe nature and think. Two years later he left the cabin and pond because he had "other lives to live".

The bulk of the 300 pages is nature-writing, reporting his o
Ferdinand Jacquemort
Henry David Thoreau. El viaje como iniciación

Antes de recluirse en una cabaña en medio del bosque, para que de aquella experiencia saliera su obra más conocida, Walden, Henry David Thoreau tuvo tiempo de viajar. Podemos decir que sin viaje difícilmente podría haber recogimiento, porque el viaje, como uno bien sabe o intuye, tiene algo que nos remite al origen de todo pensamiento, y seguramente fue de montaña en montaña, de río en río, como se construyó su visión de la existencia. Lo importante n
I read somewhere that Thoreau’s 14 volumes of his journal may be the best thing he wrote, eclipsing even WALDEN. Of course, you wouldn’t look for any kind of organization in journals except a chronological one. This account of a trip he and his older brother took in l839 when he was 22 is even lacking in chronology as much of an organizing principle. They built a boat, drifted down the Concord River to its confluence with the Merrimack River , oared up the Merrimack through frequent locks to its ...more
I just read Walden from this compilation of Thoreau’s writing, but I skimmed the rest. I’ve heard Thoreau quoted so many times throughout my life, and have never picked up one of his books. I think Walden is probably his most well-known work, and therefore, a good place to start. He has good insights for the reader and has a way of bringing a thought to a concise statement to get his point across.

He lives out in the woods for 2 years, and in that time, builds a house, plants a field, fishes, re
There are perturbations in our orbits produced by the influence of outlying spheres, and no astronomer has ever yet calculated the elements of that undiscovered world which produces them. I perceive in the common train of my thoughts a natural and uninterrupted sequence, each implying the next, or, if interruption occurs, it is occasioned by a new object being presented to my senses. But a steep, and sudden, and by these means unaccountable transition, is that from a comparatively narrow and par ...more
Joy Barr
Some questions:
1. On pages 41-42, Thoreau hears dog barks while he is so far out in the middle of nowhere. He considers this "more impressive than any music," which is very surprising to me because this is certainly a marker of man. In the wilderness, Thoreau is interested in humans, not just nature. He finds the dogs barking is "evidence of nature’s health" but to me it is just a reminder of all the crap brought to the continent, along the lines of small pox, rats, and kudzu. Is Thoreau conside
Nov 29, 2014 Eric is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers == ridge of the amphibrach

Walden; or, Life in the Woods == dactyl, trochee, iamb, that is the graduated metamorphosis, of the hexameter more distant than the Attic (a garret sought) to the nearer, blank pentameter

The Maine Woods == bacchius (Dionusos)

Cape Cod == spondee, or bodily libation, and two-thirds the bacchius and anti-bacchius; or, the ante-bacchius
Dec 04, 2008 Edified rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thoreau’s first book ruminates on the rivers, traveling, and the natural world/Spiritual Nature (immortality). A condensed memorial recalling a trip Thoreau took with his late brother, there is a poignant allusion to “To a Waterfowl,” and passages that prefigure Thoreau’s “Autumnal Tints.” A central philosophical theme that runs throughout the books is Time vs. Nature. Thoreau is, furthermore, concerned with the plight of the Native Americans, which represent the extinction of wildness. He philo ...more
Thoreau is a very intellectual man with beautiful naturalistic beliefs that he incorporates into his descriptive books. However, over 300 pages of describing a week on the river is a bit much for me, personally speaking. Thoreau had wonderful points to make about Nature, but trashing the other religions for an entire chapter was a bit harsh. Cape Cod was much better and easier because there was actual dialogue, but Thoreau remains one of the hardest authors I've ever read. Sometimes I like chall ...more
Thoreau’s first book ruminates on the rivers, traveling, and nature/Spiritual Nature (immortality). A condensed memorial recalling a trip Thoreau took with his late brother, there is a poignant allusion to “To a Waterfowl,” and passages that prefigure Thoreau’s “Autumnal Tints.” A central philosophical theme that runs throughout the books is Time vs. Nature. Thoreau is furthermore concerned with the plight of the Native Americans, which represent the extinction of wildness. He philosophizes abou ...more
There’s a lot that’s good in this book, at least for Thoreau fans, but there’s also a lot of flabby digression randomly dispersed throughout. The story of the trip down the rivers with his brother is a real pleasure, as are his observations of natural (and human) phenomena (some items are particularly interesting for a fellow paddler). And more than a couple of his ruminations are inspired. But more than a couple aren’t, and they go on and on. Then there’s his poetry …. So if you like Thoreau, h ...more
Less travel literature than an excuse for Thoreau to spout off about a bunch of other things that have been on his mind, from poetry to music to friendship to, well, you name it. The trip on the rivers is merely a structure on which to drape the weavings of his mind, interspersed with an impressive amount of poetry, almost all of which I skipped over completely. I prefered when he stuck to the more concrete elements of his story. I recommend reading a version that is either annotated or comes wi ...more
May 12, 2010 Ty rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any nature lover
Recommended to Ty by: christoper mccandless
i enjoyed it deeply, but there were times i felt he rambled on and on and on...almost getting stuck on a particular subject----at certain times i wanted to tell him to shut up. but i also came to realize that the rambling may be necessary for "city folks" ,who have not had the fortune to spend time outdoors or the southern folks who have never lived though a northern winter. but also, there were times that i could not stop reading ......he had my full attention and imagination. it was as though ...more
Brent Ranalli
Rewarding, but a tougher read than Walden. Partly because Thoreau was an inexperienced writer--it was his first book, and he tried to shoehorn into it everything he felt he had worth saying. But probably also partly because we just don't know how to read it. Garber's "Thoreau's Fable of Inscribing" appears to unpack some of the layers of meaning, some of the structure. Having read Garber, at some point I'd like to go back and reread A Week.
I didn't finish the book; just marked Read to get it off my Currently Reading shelf. Got about a third of the way ... two days into their trip. I just wasn't in the mood for long narrative about plants and their scientific names. I wanted more about the trip and his relationship with his brother. It was sort of interesting and probably worth reading, but not at this point.
With due respect, this book felt like a month! Some of the language us beautiful, both much if it was like a slog through a swamp! There is a reason why publishers require an editor's review. Thoreau was a brilliant sel-published writer who desperately needed a good editor. Word to the wise:-)
Erin K
I call Shenanigans! You barely ever lived in the woods! It wasn't even the real woods, it was property of Ralph Waldo Emerson. You had so many parties on Walden Pond you were almost never alone! In jail for tax evasion! Neck-bearded Blueblood, I can't believe in you.
James Violand
Jul 09, 2014 James Violand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Americans
Shelves: own
A compilation of wonder-full, joyous nature writing that takes you to New England and gets your boots wet. I cannot stress strongly enough that every American should read this book. It is quintessential America in scenery, people and character.
I got a bit lost at the beginning but when I realized that this book was written as a posthumous tribute to his brother it made a lot more sense...Book one on my summer reading program... next up
Autumnal Tints by Thoreau
Elizabeth Phelps
Cape Cod and Walden are my personal favorites. A Week of the Concord and Merrimack Rivers will take you some time to trudge through, but then you'll be finished and you'll start Walden and life will be grand again!
Another wordy tome, peppered with occasionally interesting (weird) things that people did in those days - like drinking rain water out of the puddles in holes made from horses hooves.... Hmmmmm.
thoreau is one of my favorite authors. thoreau's take on the world only becomes more applicable over time. i particulary dig "civil disobedience", "life without principle", and "walking".
Jay D
Yawn. Vomit. Terrible. Apart from a few interesting aphorisms and neat-o classical references, this book is a colossal waste of time from a pantheistic nature worshipper.
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Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau)was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, philosopher, and abolitionist who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

Thoreau's books,
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Walden Walden & Civil Disobedience Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays) Thoughts from Walden Pond Walking

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“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” 903 likes
“I was once reproved by a minister who was driving a poor beast to some meeting-house horse-sheds among the hills of New Hampshire, because I was bending my steps to a mountain-top on the Sabbath, instead of a church, when I would have gone farther than he to hear a true word spoken on that or any day. He declared that I was 'breaking the Lord's fourth commandment,' and proceeded to enumerate, in a sepulchral tone, the disasters which had befallen him whenever he had done any ordinary work on the Sabbath. He really thought that a god was on the watch to trip up those men who followed any secular work on this day, and did not see that it was the evil conscience of the workers that did it. The country is full of this superstition, so that when one enters a village, the church, not only really but from association, is the ugliest looking building in it, because it is the one in which human nature stoops the lowest and is most disgraced. Certainly, such temples as these shall erelong cease to deform the landscape. There are few things more disheartening and disgusting than when you are walking the streets of a strange village on the Sabbath, to hear a preacher shouting like a boatswain in a gale of wind, and thus harshly profaning the quiet atmosphere of the day.” 392 likes
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