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

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  333 Ratings  ·  24 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 June 1st 1954)
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Sep 06, 2010 Bruce rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” was Henry David Thoreau’s first published book. In it, one can already see the roots of the ideas he would establish in his great writings like “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience”. As a great fan of Thoreau, I enjoyed taking a step back and seeing the beginnings of a great writer forming themselves in this book. While “A Week” is not quite on the same level as “Walden,” it has its own merits.

The book is an account of a canoeing trip that Thoreau took wi
Howard Olsen
Sep 28, 2007 Howard Olsen rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 19, 2009 Cameron rated it really liked it
a wonderfully sloppier, more circular version of Walden
Juan Jiménez García
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
Jun 11, 2013 Edward rated it really liked it
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
Joy Barr
Apr 28, 2009 Joy Barr rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own, college
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
Bryan Reyes
Dec 26, 2014 Bryan Reyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've learned a lot from this book—from science to poetry, environment to religion, books to government, plants and animals to human beings. I yawned when I started reading this book because it's quite boring because Thoreau talks too much about plants and animals. I'm a nature lover but not as avid as Thoreau that I can quickly give the scientific name of every living things that I happen to see. I'm really amazed how natural historians study the environment's wide curriculum.

The book is full o
This is my second time to read this book. I enjoyed it much more than the first time. Think of it as a beta version of Walden. This book ostensibly presents his experience of a week long boat voyage with his brother John. It is primarily a weave of thoughts of the author inspired throughout the trip. The thoughts include, fish, fishing, local history, scripture, genius, literature, symbols and metaphors...and on and on. The book is well written and beautiful in its own rambling way. It is perfec ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Kristi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 20, 2013 Kristi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 29, 2012 Tim rated it liked it
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
Jul 03, 2012 Dan rated it liked it
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
Jul 30, 2015 Erika rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Read in Bordeaux while preparing my thesis
Brent Ranalli
Jul 31, 2012 Brent Ranalli rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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.
Dee Mills
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.
Apr 02, 2013 Christine rated it it was ok
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:-)
Aug 28, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Oct 09, 2011 William rated it it was amazing
A much underrated work by Thoreau. It's just a leisurely (much like the trip itself) journey, easy to lose one's self in.
May 09, 2012 Aneece rated it really liked it
Reads like a rehearsal for Walden, which, I suppose, it is. What a pain in the ass he must have been!
Apr 12, 2010 David rated it liked it
Truth to tell, I skimmed over the passages of Thoreau's own verse.
Nov 09, 2008 Kyle marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My cover looks different but it has the same ISBN #
Jun 30, 2007 Chip rated it really liked it
Shelves: wanderlust
Love nature. Where does it go?
John Brian Anderson
Sep 29, 2014 John Brian Anderson is currently reading it
Shelves: science-nature
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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.

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