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The Maine Woods (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  815 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Henry D. Thoreau traveled to the backwoods of Maine in 1846, 1853, and 1857. Originally published in 1864, and published now with a new introduction by Paul Theroux, this volume is a powerful telling of those journeys through a rugged and largely unspoiled land. It presents Thoreau's fullest account of the wilderness.

The Maine Woods is classic Thoreau: a personal story of
Paperback, 347 pages
Published June 13th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 1864)
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David Lentz
Sep 26, 2014 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
As a child, I vacationed on the lakes of Maine. I spent fours years there in college. I skied Sugarloaf and Squaw Mountain, the latter once with a wind chill of 28 below zero. In my youth I climbed Mt. Katahdin. I have caught-and-released salmon in Moosehead Lake in the shadow of Mt. Kineo. And traveled nearly the entire length of the Maine coast. This summer I drove through the woods of northern Maine on the way to Prince Edward Island in Canada for a brief visit. But the best way to see the he ...more
Brenda Pike
Jul 23, 2011 Brenda Pike rated it liked it
I started reading this when we climbed Mount Katahdin this summer, and as a travelogue, I found it fascinating. Despite growing up in Maine, I don't know much about it during that time period, and reading about how unsettled some of these now-familiar places were is intriguing.

However, I don't know how far to trust Thoreau. He seems to be the sort of person who exaggerates his own accomplishments and the faults of those around him. And I think he also intentionally exaggerates the wildness of th
Nov 13, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
It's a magnificent journey into the Maine woods. His descriptions of the areas he traveled, the economies & lifestyle were very interesting. The only thing that detracted from this is my dislike of him. He continually borrows what he can't afford with little thought - seems like he feels it is his due. He judges others with an arrogance that is appalling & so offhand. He lacks any empathy towards others. He is fairly intelligent & knowledgeable, but his manner just puts me off.
Jul 16, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it
And odd book at first glance, it appears to be nothing more than a collection of accounts of 3 different trips Thoreau took to wilds of Maine, but in the fact all 3 are unified by T's increasing fascination with the primitive world (something hard to imagine these days, I know) and the "wild," both environmental and psychological. The first section, Ktaadn, is the most well-known, as it describes T's trip to the top of this famous mountain, where T. experiences one of his trademark connections w ...more
Mar 01, 2016 John rated it liked it
I decided to go ahead and mark this as read, even though I only actually read the "Katahdin" piece. This lives on my phone...I bought this whole Thoreau e-book collection for like a buck on Amazon, and so whenever I am in a place where I am bored but have no data and no other books to read (like a pub in Canada) I can read more Thoreau. So I'll get to the other parts eventually.
Thoreau spelled Katahdin "Ktaadn" because he is just so precious. Seriously, everything else is spelled the way it is
Mar 02, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry David Thoreau is my favorite American author, and lately I've been trying to read some of his lesser-known works. "The Maine Woods" is one of these, and I immensely enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect book by any means, however, and I should note that there are problematic aspects with some of Thoreau’s descriptions of Native Americans. He seems to be naively drawn into the simplistic stereotype (which is sometimes known as “the Noble Savage” stereotype) that Native Americans are somehow natura ...more
Apr 21, 2013 Alan rated it it was amazing
Having read all of Thoreau over the years, not rushing, I can say that The Maine Woods is my favorite, along with parts--the funny and the elegiac parts--of Cape Cod. Certainly not Walden, a young man's elevated philosophizing, essentially sophomoric in the best sense. Parts of the Journals, yes, very limited parts, for much of the Journals reads like Melville' chapter on cetology, only more Latinate.
The Maine Woods features Abenaki language (I think--not Malasete-Pasamoquoddy) in its precision
Mar 11, 2009 Judith rated it it was amazing
On a rainy day, I enjoy going to the Maine woods with Thoreau. Here is a concise, tightly written work, where there is humor, sadness, and joy, communicated by a powerful mind. Mostly I enjoy the sparse language of the description of woods, waterways, and all that lives there, but the tinge of sadness comes when he describes the abuse of the natural resources already taking place in the 1860's.
He had a deep concern for the environment at a time when the country's natural resources seemed unlimit
Sep 01, 2008 Sharon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thoreau goes on some trips in Maine. I wanted to feel close to nature when reading this book - but actually, I felt sad that Thoreau didn't seem to have much connection with the other people around him. Good book if you want a glimpse of that time in history and some good naturalist's listings. Good book if you want to learn more about Thoreau. Not a good book if you want to feel a sense of adventure and being close to the universe.
Douglas Dalrymple
Jul 29, 2016 Douglas Dalrymple rated it really liked it
This is not the Thoreau of Walden. The verbal fireworks are tamped down, the philosopher hat is worn but lightly. This is a more mature Thoreau meditating on the nature of wildness and the different ways that European Americans and Native Americans have interacted with the New England landscape.
May 28, 2008 Katherine rated it it was amazing
Its Thoreau. C'mon.
Jul 17, 2011 Felicity rated it liked it
Author of The Maine Woods, Henry David Thoreau was a transcendentalist from Concord Massachusetts. As a kid he thought much and tried to find an answer in everything, especially in nature. He went to Harvard, taught in Concord, and made pencils with his father. It was in 1845, though, that he went to Walden Pond to fulfill his real dream.
There, he wrote his first book, titled A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, a recollection of a rive trip he had taken with his beloved late brother. E
Charlie Miksicek
Feb 28, 2017 Charlie Miksicek rated it really liked it
Surprisingly readable. A good view of Maine in the middle 19th century.
i'm not necessarily a fan of thoreau, but this is an interesting book.

hdt goes to maine chasing the far edge of the building industry's raw materials chain, into the context for white pine, the pioneer tourist who of course is quite concerned about other tourists, who prefers to Encounter Local Color.

the main attractions of the accounts are joe polis, the role of sound, and the chapter on mt kataadan.

but travelogues that meander are preferable to those which do not, and so found myself also in
Jeff DeRosa
Nov 14, 2015 Jeff DeRosa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To fully appreciate this writing you must come equipped with a quality map and an already established interest in northern (not coastal) Maine. Without the appreciation I suspect you'll feel cheated by reading this book. After all, this book is not Walden. Instead, it is simple; direct. It's more observational than philosophical. Then again, the contemporary style of Thoreau's writing is also part of the intrigue. The observations are accessible. It's a quick read.

That's not to say it's written
Greening USiena
Una recensione di The Maine Woods, sorta di 'trilogia' di viaggio scritta e mai riordinata da Henry David Thoreau, può prescindere da qualsiasi altra considerazione, una volta che si sia letto quanto segue.

'Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its evergreen arms to the light, — to see its perfect success; but most are content to behold it in the shape of many broad boards brought to market, and deem that its true success! But the pine
Oct 15, 2012 Matt rated it liked it
The book The Maine Woods by Henry Thoreau provides a detailed insight of the Maine woods in the mid-17th century. Thoreau kept detailed notes on his expeditions so he could return to Massachusetts with a thorough knowledge to educate his peers. Thoreau embarked on three expeditions into the Maine wilderness. The first trip was to Mt. Ktaadn, the second to Chesuncook Lake, and the third up the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

Thoreau’s main goal in this text is to educate and at times can be b
Sep 03, 2015 Alan rated it it was amazing
Wonderful travelogue detailing Thoreau's three trips through the wilds of Maine in the mid-19th century. "What is it to be admitted to a museum, to see a myriad of particular things, compared with being shown some star's surface, some hard matter in its home!" What is remarkable to me is how a lot of the landscape he travelled through remains remarkably intact, heavy logging notwithstanding. The brook trout are still "bright fluviatile flowers"; the call of the loon remains "a very wild sound, q ...more
J. Dorner
Jan 06, 2016 J. Dorner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very detailed account of the travels in 1846, 1853, and 1857 of Thoreau. What they ate, what they wore, where they slept, and how much items cost along the way are all recorded. There’s mention of intense cold of 40 to 50 Fahrenheit (which is above freezing, so I’m not sure what to make of that).
I’ve never had tea sweetened with molasses. Nor have I ever eaten moose horn. However, the oddest meal I came across in this book was as follows: “The Indians baked a loaf of flour bread in a s
May 21, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it
This book covers three trips to Maine in the 1840s and 1850s. The first piece is about going to “Mt. Ktaadn”. He describes the journey, which is interesting enough, but there is not a lot of plot. They venture further and further into the wild, after a few remote farms, it is just logging camps which operate in the winter. One crazy thing is that there was a plethora of butter and the hiking crew rubbed it into their boots every night.

The next piece is a river trip, canoes, fishing, fires. here
JoAnn Plante
Feb 03, 2017 JoAnn Plante rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, although some of the passages were difficult to understand. It is written in 18th century english. Thoreau does give some very descriptive notes on camping, canoeing, and wildlife. There are some indian words to learn, too. I also enjoyed how he spoke about the indians with respect and admiration. I learned about the indian culture just by reading about his travels throught the woods. While a bit difficult to read, it contains so much information that is still relevan ...more
Jun 30, 2014 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This posthumously published work is without the benefit of the author's guiding and unifying craftsmanship. Admittedly, I found it somewhat duller than Thoreau's other writings. Still, it is an insightful work, satisfying for the patient reader. Thoreau is ever the meticulous chronicler of nature, as he explores the place of man within Nature, both as a naturalist and a social critic. Thoreau records an intriguing contact experience between "civilized" industrialized New England and the disappea ...more
Sam Shirley
Aug 25, 2014 Sam Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as summer reading for school, but I was already planning on reading it. It was a great book about the way the Maine woods used to be. It was interesting tracing his explorations and comparing them to what the Maine woods are like now. I felt like I could relate to the book because I have spent lots of time in the Maine woods and I have visited some of the same places that Thoreau had been. The book was well written and it was very easy to picture the scenes he described. I also ...more
Jonny Parshall
Took me all day to read.

"Though the railroad and telegraph have been established on the shores of Maine, the Indian still looks out from her interior mountains over all these to the sea."

What I would give to visit Thoreau's Maine Woods of the mid-nineteenth century. Though the white man had traversed that wild for over 200 years, it was mostly the same as they had found it. Now, over 150 years later yet, Thoreau would scarcely recognize it. It is the boon of the industrialized nation to weep ove
Lizzi Crystal
Mar 09, 2009 Lizzi Crystal rated it it was ok
The rating is so low due to my own enjoyment of it, not the book itself - parts were very interesting (I especially liked the introduction that told what this book meant back then, and Thoreau's appendix listing all the plants and animals he saw during his sojourn in Maine, and the provisions required to make such a trip). I can imagine Transcendentalists of the time were very interested, and as Transcendentalism is a subject that very much interests me, it was fun reading something by a true na ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
Thoreau’s by far best known for Walden, but this is a contender for his best. He learned from the weaknesses in his earlier writings – no long digressions here, no frequent intrusions of bad poetry, the book’s conceived and structured well. And besides avoiding his earlier mistakes it’s a great story told well. Almost all of it is description of his Maine travels, but where he does wax philosophical it’s welcome, with his characteristically acute observations and a perspective that’s the opposit ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
If you really like nature, maybe give this book a try. Other than that please don't get sucked in because the all-famous Thoreau wrote it. I seriously couldn't get into reading this and had to force myself to get through each page, shoot each sentence. In the end I had to succomb and realized I had better things to read and do with my time.

The only way I see myself ever coming back to this book and actually finishing it is if I'm trapped in the woods and there's no other book in site.
Sep 26, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it
Thoreau's travel journal through the backwoods of Maine on three separate occasions. Maine was largely uninhabited and untraveled except for the occasional lumberman and hunter. Thoreau describes in great detail the terrain, plants, animals and interaction with his companions and Indian guide, often describing things no longer seen.
Oct 02, 2011 Jabberwock rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
I really enjoyed this mid-1800's view of life along the waterways and wilderness of back country Maine. Following Thoreau's course in areas surrounding Baxter Park on a current map it's interesting to see there still aren't roads or much access to many of these still remote areas.

I'm already planning our next trip to Maine to include a visit of the interior!
I really enjoyed these stories. To see in my minds eye the differences in the state of Maine even in the 1800's is amazing to me as I thought that the worst damage was currently being done to our environment. I have come to realize that we've been ruining the wildlife since we got here!
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Nature Literature: 150th Anniversary Tour of "The Maine Woods" 5 11 Jul 21, 2014 08:42AM  
  • A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf
  • Round River
  • The Sheltering Desert
  • Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail
  • Notes From Walnut Tree Farm
  • A Year in the Maine Woods
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region
  • The Sense of Wonder
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs
  • The Art of Seeing Things
  • Selected Essays
  • Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
  • Northern Farm
  • The Crofter and the Laird: Life on an Hebridean Island
  • Where the Sea Breaks Its Back: The Epic Story - Georg Steller & the Russian Exploration of AK
  • Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales
  • Ill Nature
  • Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season With The Wild Turkey
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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“The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there.” 9 likes
“The spruce and cedar on its shores, hung with gray lichens, looked at a distance like the ghosts of trees. Ducks were sailing here and there on its surface, and a solitary loon, like a more living wave, — a vital spot on the lake's surface, — laughed and frolicked, and showed its straight leg, for our amusement.” 7 likes
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