Jennifer's Reviews > Walden and Other Writings

Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau
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Jun 19, 2008

it was amazing
Read in June, 2008

I am giving 5 stars to "Life without Principle," "On Civil Disobedience," and the following chapters from Walden: Economy, Where I Lived and What I Lived For, Reading, Solitude, Higher Laws, Conclusion. The rest of the book was about nature. While I'm thumbs up when it comes to experiencing nature, I'm thumbs down when it comes to reading about it. I wish I could appreciate the way he describes grass blowing in the wind and ants fighting with each other, but I just couldn't, so I'm not rating his nature writings. His philosophy, however, is great. He can be a sarcastic little bastard too. I didn't learn much from his philosophy, since I already have his beliefs and a very simple lifestyle, albeit not in the woods. But it was very comforting having a dead friend to hang out with for awhile.

Everyone considering joining the military should read "On Civil Disobedience" and the Conclusion to Walden. I wish I would've had Henry as a respectable reference the time a date walked out on me for calling military men mindless robots. I wish I would've had Henry as a reference all those times people criticized me for never reading the newspaper or for not owning a home. But I have that sexy pile of bones as a reference now! Oh Henry, I wish I could be the hoe you used on your bean field! Anyway, below are some of my favorite quotes:

"In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while." (Replace post office with cell phones and blackberries and the world is flooded with inward life failures).

"Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners? ....As for the pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs."

"To a philosopher all news , as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea."
"The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition."

"What is called politics is comparatively something so superficial and inhuman, that practically I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all."

"Of what use the friendliest disposition even, if there are no hours given to friendship, if it is forever postponed to unimportant duties and relations?"

"Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate."

"The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it."

"...for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them."

"Men have become the tools of their tools."

"...be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought."

"Merely to come into the world the heir of a fortune is not to be born, but to be stillborn, rather."

"What is it to be born free and not to live free?"
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