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Walden and Civil Disobedience

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  22,430 ratings  ·  617 reviews
Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classicsseries, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

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Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 1st 2003 by Barnes & Noble Classics (first published 1854)
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Benjamin Richards I'm learning that folk have been craving a simpler lifestyle for a long time. Can you imagine Thoreau in the 21st century? Although his narrative is…moreI'm learning that folk have been craving a simpler lifestyle for a long time. Can you imagine Thoreau in the 21st century? Although his narrative is hard to digest, the evocation in his text is beautiful. Life can be more sedentary without suffering motivation. In fact if we aspired to live more in accordance with his ideals the world would change dramatically.(less)
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The tale of a man who dared to live in his parents backyard and eat dinner with them, and then lived to write about it. Compelling.
Jun 24, 2007 James rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: recently-read
I often credit this book with my philosophical awakening. Thoreau presents a criticism of modern life, technology, economy, and wasteful culture from the perspective of one who has simplified his life and experienced something much closer to real independence than any other modern man. Some have criticized him for not being truly and completely independent - he lived on Emerson's property, he visited friends for the occasional dinner, he washed his clothes at his mother's house - but I think the ...more
Walden: I take issue with a wealthy man living in a shack for a period and pretending that living one mile from town and having his mother do his laundry qualifies him to advise mankind to "sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."

An experiment in simplicity, getting close to nature, I'm all for it. But when your experiment ends in a renewal of your previous lifestyle, how can you advise others to make changes that would leave them in the position permanently?
Walden is not for everyone. This is why it is so accurately and justifiably cherished by its admirers, and so ridiculously and criminally misunderstood by its detractors. The critics of Walden levy ad hominem after ad hominem against Thoreau, as if the utmost specifics of his experience detract from the purported "arguments" he puts forth about the absolute means everyone "must" live their lives. Clearly his meditations on cherishing solitude are false, because he did enjoy company every now and ...more
I first read Walden in perhaps the most ideal set of circumstances possible -- for an entire semester my first year of college, in a highly popular seminar made up of 20 first year students and a brilliant professor of intellectual history. All of the students had been chosen at random from among those interested in the course, and we felt lucky to have been selected. Each class, the professor would ask us to do a close reading of the next chapter, plus re-read all the preceding chapters, and th ...more
I actually got to visit Thoreau's cabin for my brother's birthday this April. Despite it being below freezing the mosquito's had already started to breed. When we approached the pond we were engulfed in a cloud of them. I could almost hear them singing with delight as they began to feast. Almost...
perhaps intermittently between screams. (As a side note I would like to say that I am terrified of bugs. Especially the flying ones that like to bite) In denial of the adject horror I was experiencing
I really had no clue what to expect when I picked this book up. I had never read it, and was only introduced to Thoreau through a grad course reading requirement of his. I fell in love then and this book continued that love. While many of his ideas are now cliche, to think that he was speaking them at a time when it was unheard of is incredible to me. There were many "ah ha" moments, when I realized things about everyday life that had not been clear to me before. Ideas about living simply and th ...more
Jun 09, 2008 Tim marked it as favourites  ·  review of another edition
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broa ...more
During my progress through this book I kept bouncing back and forth between hating Thoreau and loving his ideas. Thoreau has some great concepts and his "economy" and "conclusion" sections of Walden really drew me in to his ideas. But. Thoreau is kind a self-important asshole. He's just so full of himself and how awesome he is for living in his little cabin and how much better it makes him than all those poor fools weighted down by their lives. I really don't think he has any right to be so full ...more
J.M. Hushour
I have espoused the belief in the past that, like Ayn Rand, Thoreau is just one of those writers that turns his readers into insufferable assholes for weeks afterwards. Ears clapped shut 'neath clammy palms, one feels driven to flee this politically adverse duality. Thus, I have never read "Walden". Until now.
It's easy to mock Thoreau--if you've never actually read the work. For all his seeming pretensions and the empty, wrong-headed criticisms leveled against him as "the guy who lived in someon
I never read Walden in high school, and I always thought I'd hate it but I kind of liked it a lot.

If Walden were published today, it would be one of those tone-deaf voluntary poverty memoirs, with roots in some shitty blog with a large following of young white male libertarians. Thoreau was a Harvard-educated white dude who chose to live in the forest, and there's a particularly painful part of Walden in which he lectures an impoverished distant neighbor (who has a wife and kids) on how he shoul
I read this for one of my university English courses.

Okay, so coming to the end of "Walden" (we didn't read "Civil Disobedience"), I was just completely unimpressed. Thoreau is so redundant and he contradicts his own ideas multiple times. The plot of the book (if you can even call it a plot) focuses on Thoreau's experience living on his own for two years, supporting himself solely and living off of the land near Walden Pond. This experiment was meant to prove that he could be self-sufficient wit
Thoreau is kind of a brat. I'm sorry! I understand and appreciate his commitment to shedding material goods, living off of his own labor, valuing the natural world, etc. But every time he describes conversing with someone else, he comes off as painfully condescending, whether he's just marveling at the purity of their simplistic minds or smirking at a family that's had him over for dinner, who seem, to him, far too burdened with their material possessions. He rarely describes the hardships encou ...more
A professor of mine once said that all human thought since Socrates is mere footnotes to his ideas. Having all but minored in leftist political history from the American Civil War to the present, Thoreau's writings would strike me as unoriginal did I not know that everything I've read before now has simply been the footnotes.

I felt some degree of ideological stimulation and an immense sense of reverence when considering his political theories. I felt a chill while imagining Gandhi's and Dr. Kin
BJ Rose
Thoreau said, "A written word is the choicest of relics." As someone who loves to read, I agree completely.

There were some real gems in this book - the sections on 'Sound' and 'Solitude' may end up being my favorite part of the book, since I also love watching & listening to nature. And he spent a very interesting 4 pages describing a war between red ants & black ants! But then he followed that up with a long, boring description of Walden Pond, how its shoreline is made of a belt of smoo
Mark Sobralske
I love this book. His minimalist approach to life left him time to do what he'd rather be doing. Instead of buying a farm on a loan and working his whole life to pay it off, like his neighbors, Thoreau did what he wanted to do in life by living simply.
I look at this as a manual on how to cut the fat from one's life to focus on what one really wants to do rather than get caught up in the day to day. Just because Thoreau lived his way, doesn't mean we should live like him.. I don't think that's wh
I didn't think there'd be a worse Important Book than Steppenwolf, but sure enough, here it is.

Surly primativist lives in woods & muses about beans, ice, animals, and suchlike. There's much consternation regarding the local village, the train, the citylife. Might have more reasonably entitled this Against the Townies.

"Civil Disobediance" is also a waste of space--libertarian propaganda not saved by anti-war & anti-slavery propositions.

Numerous pithy statements in both texts, but godsdamm
David Ranney
It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.

But how happens it that he who is said to enjoy these things is so commonly a poor civilized man, while the savage, which has them not, is rich as a savage? The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

The very simplicity and n
anday androo
I first started reading Walden, but only just briefly, on the Pacific Coast train from LA to San Diego, when I was a barely literate 21 year old, just emerging from a haze of Robert Jordan, Huxley, and Orwell. Also on that trip I read On the Road, somewhat appropriately. Well, I left the book on the train and here we are 10 years later.

I also maybekindasorta read Civil Disobedience in Mr. Carta's Sophomore English, but the likelihood is that it was mostly not read.


Henry David Thoreau woul
Sairam Krishnan
The first thing I should tell you about Henry David Thoreau’s celebrated book is that you shouldn’t choose it for a speed reading test. If you do, one of two things will happen. Either you will give up, or you will give up and run away to the hills. Both are very probable occurrences. Walden is both a pleasure and a labour to read. I enjoyed myself thoroughly in some places, and at other times had to rest before I could read any more.

But if you are going to spend the time needed to digest this
Finally!! Now, to avoid a completely subjective view, I'm trying a new rating system, at least for a book like this, which has literary value but was so difficult for me to get through.
So, here are five points of rating, each "worth" 20%. I will then add the percentages and give the book the appropriate star value.
Writing style: I like Thoreau's writing style. It's better aloud, which I discovered unfortunately when I was more than halfway through the book. I started reading it aloud, and it flo
I don't think I like Thoreau very much.
But I shall withhold judgment for now...


Four essays later...I have decided that I don't like Thoreau very much.

I read in a book that Thoreau actually didn't really go off and live by himself for two years...what he actually did was sit around in a little house in the woods by himself, and then come back to his house and society, just like any normal person...sort of like a little kid with a backyard fort?

I dunno for sure if it's true, but Thoreau sor
I never have understood why this dense book is assigned for schoolkids to read. Yes, it is unprecedented in American literature, a great book--without being particularly "good reading." It's formidable, and I have never gotten through it, chapter after chapter. I find it a great dippers' book, and maybe those who assign it are exactly that, dippers.
Several of Thoreau's other works are more engaging and accessible, from the Maine Woods (perhaps my favorite) to Cape Cod, even A Week on the Conco
Por fin he podido dedicarle tiempo a la lectura del Walden, un libro que es un pozo de sabiduría.

Los dos años que pasó Thoreau en la cabaña que construyó con sus propias manos y sin ayuda de nadie a orillas de la laguna de Walden, en medio del bosque, le cundieron mucho, pues en ese tiempo escribió dos obras (Walden y Del deber de la desobediencia civil) y se hizo experto en la flora y fauna locales. Su forma de pensar, libre y no contaminada por nada ni nadie, es un gran estímulo en estos tiem
Wow. I finished this book a lot faster than Naked Lunch. And, most importantly, I liked it a whole lot better.

I was reading other reviews, and I just have to say I blew those guys out of the water with my perfect setting to read Walden at: on the dock looking out at Bear Pond in Maine, with loon calls echoing in the background and the sun setting. I'd definitely say this setting heightened my reading experience, which is probably why I gave this book five stars instead of four. But Walden was go
I'm a bit ambivalent on this one. Though I really liked pieces and I think Thoreau has a great writing style, I did also find it rather lengthy at times. The descriptions of the environment of Walden pond are beautiful, but they can become a bit much, for instance when he writes several times, multiple pages about how clear the water in the pond is...

Though the novel has been an important inspiration for some philosophers, and I appreciate it's importance and the novelty of Thoreau's ideas at t
Walden is not what you would call a 'page turner'. It is not like The Lost Hero, or Kula's R-rated Vietnam book. Unfortunately, that's probably why it's my reading CHALLENGE. However, I do like some things about it.

When I read Sherlock Holmes last year, I loved the fantastic characters and the overly complex, yet right-under-your-nose mysteries. Again, this book is not like that, yet I love the way that both authors use 19th century English in its best form. To entertain.

I love that particular s
This is about the "Civil Disobedience" essay, not Walden, which I read a few years ago.
I've wanted to read "Civil Disobedience" for a long time, especially when I found out that Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by it. However, after reading the opening: "That government is best which governs not at all;", I could not help wonder if Thoreau realized that he would probably no have been able to write this essay without government, which provides schools that teach reading and writing. But then I thou
Mantis Matsuri
I went through Walden a while ago as I find my feet in a new city and I found out that its lesson are applicable in USA as they are in my country, Colombia, and they work for both the countryside and the city.

Colombia will elect a new -or the same- president next week. This campaign has been one of the most embarrassingly dishonest we have seen in decades, and reading Thoreau's Civil Disobedience has strengthened my view of the wisdom of responsible individuality and libertarian communities.
I think a lot of Thoreau's ideas, although my irrational, idealistic side agrees with them, are just that - irrational and idealistic. Isn't it sad that those words are automatically pejorative in American society? Just something to think about. Unexpectedly, at least for me, Thoreau's ideas on faith, society, and interpersonal relationships were extremely insightful here. Despite the account's shortcomings, I still feel motivated to go build myself a cottage in the woods of New England and live ...more
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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,
More about Henry David Thoreau...
Walden Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays) Walking Walden and Other Writings Thoughts from Walden Pond

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“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” 42 likes
“I am convinced that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough.” 17 likes
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