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Originally published in 1854, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, is a vivid account of the time that Henry D. Thoreau lived alone in a secluded cabin at Walden Pond. It is one of the most influential and compelling books in American literature. This new paperback edition-introduced by noted American writer John Updike-celebrates the 150th anniversary of this classic work. Much of Walden's material is derived from Thoreau's journals and contains such engaging pieces as "Reading" and "The Pond in the Winter" Other famous sections involve Thoreau's visits with a Canadian woodcutter and with an Irish family, a trip to Concord, and a description of his bean field. This is the complete and authoritative text of Walden-as close to Thoreau's original intention as all available evidence allows. For the student and for the general reader, this is the ideal presentation of Thoreau's great document of social criticism and dissent.

352 pages, Paperback

First published August 9, 1854

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About the author

Henry David Thoreau

1,809 books5,647 followers
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, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism.

In 1817, Henry David Thoreau was born in Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1837, taught briefly, then turned to writing and lecturing. Becoming a Transcendentalist and good friend of Emerson, Thoreau lived the life of simplicity he advocated in his writings. His two-year experience in a hut in Walden, on land owned by Emerson, resulted in the classic, Walden: Life in the Woods (1854). During his sojourn there, Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax in protest of slavery and the Mexican war, for which he was jailed overnight. His activist convictions were expressed in the groundbreaking On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849). In a diary he noted his disapproval of attempts to convert the Algonquins "from their own superstitions to new ones." In a journal he noted dryly that it is appropriate for a church to be the ugliest building in a village, "because it is the one in which human nature stoops to the lowest and is the most disgraced." (Cited by James A. Haught in 2000 Years of Disbelief.) When Parker Pillsbury sought to talk about religion with Thoreau as he was dying from tuberculosis, Thoreau replied: "One world at a time."

Thoreau's philosophy of nonviolent resistance influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. D. 1862.

More: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/tho...





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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,139 reviews
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,023 followers
September 1, 2014

The first half is written by Thoreau, the accomplished philosopher and soars much above my humble powers of comprehension; the second half is written by Thoreau, the amateur naturalist and swims much below my capacity for interest.

After reading about the influence the book had on Gandhi, I had attempted reading Walden many (roughly four) times before and each time had to give up before the tenth page due to the onrush of new ideas that enveloped me. I put away the book each time with lots of food for thought and always hoped to finish it one day.

Now after finally finishing the book, while I was elated and elevated by the book, I just wish that Thoreau had stuck to telling about the affairs of men and their degraded ways of living and about his alternate views. Maybe even a detailed account of his days and how it affected him would have been fine but when he decided to write whole chapters about how to do bean cultivation and how to measure the depth of a pond with rudimentary methods and theorizing about the reason for the unusual depth of walden and about the habits of wild hens, sadly, I lost interest. I trudged through the last chapters and managed to finish it out of a sense of obligation built up over years of awe about the book.

The concluding chapter, to an extent, rewarded me for my persistence and toil. In this final chapter, he comes back to the real purpose of the book: to drill home a simple idea - "I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws will be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings."

This I think was the core philosophy of the book - if you pursue the ideal direction/vision you have of how your life should be, and not how convention dictates it should be, then you will find success and satisfaction on a scale unimaginable through those conventional routes or to those conventional minds.

I will of course be re-reading the book at some point and thankfully I will know which parts to skip without any remorse.
Profile Image for Amanda.
26 reviews
January 2, 2009
I will go against the grain of society here and say that this was not worth it. There are a few gems of wisdom in here, maybe the Cliffs Notes or a HEAVILY abridged version would be more tolerable. Here's what I didn't like: Thoreau went off to "live by himself", when in actuality he was a mere 2 miles away from town and could hear the train whistle daily. Not exactly out there roughing it. He lived in a shack on land that a friend of his owned so he was basically a squatter. Most of the food he ate he was given by townsfolk who were alternately intrigued by his way of living or felt sorry for him. These are the same people he is judging for their way of life, yet he is dependent on them! Also, and this may be just because I already strive for a simplified life, hardly a one of his truisms felt fresh or inspiring to me. It was a book full of self importance and judgement on society, not a man I would want to have an afternoon chat with. I understand that at the time, his ideas were totally out there and revolutionary, but he is too bombastic about the whole thing, as if he himself had single handedly figured it all out. I was seriously dissapointed and hope Emerson will be better.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
165 reviews47 followers
August 1, 2007
Or "The Guy Who Liked to Go Outside and Do Stuff". If Thoreau were alive today, I bet he'd be one of those guys who won't shut up about how he "doesn't even own" a television. Curiously, however, I don't think he'd smell bad. And he'd find Radiohead neither overrated nor God's gift to modern music. Just a talented band with a few fairly interesting ideas.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
403 reviews3,543 followers
January 6, 2023
Haha....2nd time reading this? I've read this book at least six times. I try to read it every year. I've decided that I am going to do a research project concerning the earliest manuscripts of Walden. This is actually the 8th or 9th version, but I am extremely curious about the original version.

Groundbreaking and thought proving. Need to grab a highlighter just to get through the first chapter. It has so many ideas that were ahead of its time and still deserve a pause.

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I have read it at least three times. Although I do recommend reading it over several months because there is so much to take in if you like to noodle on your thoughts.

Here is my more in-depth review: https://youtu.be/fkX7-Ifu0cE

In the mid-1800's on July 4th, Henry David Thoreau goes into the woods to live alone in a very small cabin along the shores of Walden Pond. This book was written during his two years and two months in this cabin. He questions ideas and he questions the constant need for more, more, more. What is true wealth? What does it mean to be rich? Do we take time to enjoy the things around us?

He does provide some VERY detailed descriptions of nature which can be boring from time to time. However, he is providing us the sounds, smells, and sights of 1845. What will the world be like 175 years from now? Additionally, I like to focus on the words of Thoreau and try to imagine the birds chirping and hearing the wind wrestle the leaves through the strands of grass as light shimmers through the branches of trees. It is essentially yoga for your mind. Pick this book up and sip it like a fine wine. Relax and enjoy the small things in life.

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November 17, 2022
It is incredible to see that I am ready with the review of my teenage favorites, that propelled me towards philosophy and to cherish the novelty of nature! When I conjectured it would put me to sleep, this book woke me in ways inexplicable! 😊

A perfect example of a book whose likeability is sheerly based on the reader’s age, circumstances, predicaments and future-wants-and-desires. If one wants to be a minimalistic, this one is for you. If one wants to enjoy the materialistic side of life, this will surely irk you!

Being a ginormous, bulky and a slow, difficult read, I highly recommend to make it your bed-side read.
Devouring hungrily, but in bit-and-pieces!

Though there are swarming youtubers, already professing the same idea including modern-life concepts, but this book of the 1800s, will never lose its charm and chastity for me!

One can foray into the brilliant forage and live vicariously along with Thoreau. For the ones, acclimatized with the realities and struggles of life, this book is a treat!

The descriptions of pond, the woods, ice and rain, winter and spring, are so vivid, that one would carry along their alluring effect for ages, and keep living in a brilliant epiphany!
Atleast I did!

This book turned out to be a mental-mediation for me.
One needn’t physically transport himself to Walden or some alike place to experience the serenity and calmness, but can relish his artful words, amidst the hubbub and predicaments of life, the chaos and demands of life! 😊

Thoreau has openly challenged the materialistic ways of living, and hence suffered the brunt. Many retaliated and called him a hypocrite. He made people to confront themselves at the core of their reckless lives, and hence many were instigated. Afterall truth hurts! 😊

The world and the people in it have been losing their ground, being a part of the fierce rat-race, and Walden is that medicine that helps its readers to keep gaining what they have lost bit-by-bit! 😊

Walden delivers a vantage point, with which we can purview the world and our lives most vividly. The stage we are in, and the alterations needed! 😊

Thoreau chose a place (Walden) within a few miles of this hometown (Concord), away from his existing neighbors. What I appreciate is- he never wanted to be a Hermit, very well relished the visitors and often walked to town. (I felt an ephemeral similarity between him and the character- Grenouille from Perfume- The Story of the Murderer, in which for a brief time he goes into the caves to live all by himself and for himself)

Now without any further adulations for the book, let me jump right into the chapters’ synopsis.
There are many chapters, but would share only the impactful ones (without any spoilers 😊)-

The book begins with “Economy”, in which he delves into the tenets of living and talks about why he started living at Walden.

Then we have "WHERE I LIVED, AND WHAT I LIVED FOR", in which he described the environment of his cabin, and ruminates on the materialistic possessions, mindful and wakeful living, connecting them all to his experiment!

Thereafter, in the "SOUNDS", he defines “reading” being an indoor activity, but balances it by pointing on the positive experiences garnered once he was outside the cabin exposed to the sounds of nature, of humans, and the railroad.

My favorite chapter is, "SOLITUDE" in which he discusses the delights of being alone; and defines it as his best companion. (Reminded me of King Lear)

Not being a hermit, in "VISITORS", he discusses about all the notable visitors, keeping three chairs in his cabin, and claimed to have had 25-30 souls under his roof, ofcourse along with their bodies :P

There are numerous interesting chapters, but I don’t want to explode this review, so finally jumping onto the last chapter-

In "CONCLUSION", Thoreau sums up explicating why he left the lake and what he gained from his experience. He also speaks volumes about the individual and society, about living well, about finding the truth! He concludes the novel with the following lines-

“I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

Leaving you all with one of my favorite excerpts from this book, to ruminate-

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer? If the condition of things which we were made for is not yet, what were any reality which we can substitute? We will not be shipwrecked on a vain reality. Shall we with pains erect a heaven of blue glass over ourselves, though when it is done we shall be sure to gaze still at the true ethereal heaven far above, as if the former were not?”

I have forever loved and treasured this prodigious-read, and shower a mammoth 5-stars! 😊
Profile Image for Clare.
453 reviews22 followers
September 8, 2008
Reading Walden was kind of like eating bran flakes: You know it's good for you, and to some degree you enjoy the wholesomeness of it, but it's not always particularly exciting. The parts of this book that I loved (the philosophy, which always held my interest even though I sometimes didn't agree with Thoreau), I really loved, and the parts that I hated (the ten pages where he waxes poetic about his bean fields, for instance), I really hated.

I also got the impression that Thoreau was the kind of guy I could never be friends with. In Into the Wild (which I read at the same time during intervals when Walden became too much to bear), Jon Krakauer describes Thoreau as "staid and prissy." I agree, and I'd also add "holier than thou." At many points in the book, his attitude seems to be, "If you're not living your life exactly like me, then you're just stupid." Which aggravated me because, while I can see the merit of his way of life, I don't necessarily think one has to take it to the extremes he did to reap the same benefits. That said, there were parts of his philosophy that I want to try to carry out in my own life, and I know that this is a book that I'll refer to again and again throughout my life. But will I ever read the whole thing through again? Doubtful.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
July 13, 2021
Walden is a phenomenal piece of writing that has the power to completely alter your way of thinking and the way in which you see the world.

To put it plainly, I feel like I have been looking for Walden (or a book like it) for my entire life. It is a book a about a man who has had enough of society and all its trappings; it is a book about a man who understands that modern life is inauthentic and false: it is not a reflection of how we ought to be living as per our biology and our natural animal instinct. And to regain some sense of authenticity, he goes to live in the woods by himself.

He builds his own home with his own hands; he grows his own food; he practices frugality and minimalist living; he turns his back on materialism, consumerism and society at large: he tries to live in way that is completely true to himself. His motivations for doing so were quite simple: he wanted to feel alive and that when he reached his death bed, he would not feel like he had wasted his life (as so many others will):

“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, discover that I had not lived.”

What is also strikingly powerful about Walden, a book published in 1864, is how modern it is and how awake it is. Reading this today as a vegan and an environmentalist with a mind attuned to contemporary ecological concern, reveals just how important books like this are. Back then Thoreau understood how easy it was to live off plant-based food. He understood that it was cheaper, cleaner, and not detrimental to his health. And he wanted to be totally off-grid. I find historical examples of this fascinating because they are examples of how some writers understood exactly what was needed for the development of humanity.

“I have no doubt that is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.”

I feel like many writers, philosophers and poets have known this fact for a long time. And here, as in many cases, eating plant-based food is utilised to become more natural and to, as Thoreau puts it, eat like the animals do. I feel like Thoreau has been reading the work of Rousseau here, but he never mentions him. Despite this, Thoreau does also hunt and fish in the book, but his mind always turns back to the animals involved and what harm his actions are causing them. He knows it is time to change and to move forward.

It is worth mentioning here that Walden is quite dense, and the archaic prose and lofty descriptions will scare away many an immature reader. It is the main criticism levelled at the work here on Goodreads. But I think it is really worth sticking with because there is some true wisdom in its pages.

And I'd like to end my review by quoting a little bit more of it:

“There can be no black melancholy in him who lives in the midst of nature."


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
April 24, 2016
If you find yourself having difficulty sleeping, this book is a fantastic cure for insomnia. Just writing a review about it makes me want to lie my head down and close my eyes.

That being said, I suppose Thoreau's pretentious, self-righteous douchebaggery was extremely revolutionary for the time it was written. He went to live in a shack in the woods and decided that gave him the right to impart truisms about life. Some of them are almost interesting, too, except that Thoreau's prose is so overwritten and dull that you have to work really hard to dig out the gems underneath.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,303 followers
April 19, 2023
O carte pentru cei care tînjesc după o viață liniștită. Iată soluția!

Un bărbat încă tînăr, dar cu opinii tăioase, Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), hotărăște să trăiască singur într-o pădure, în preajma lacului Walden. Din fericire, lacul e populat cu diferite vietăți comestibile. Dimineața, Thoreau pescuiește, cultivă legume lîngă adăpostul pe care și l-a construit; în restul zilei, citește din autorii clasici (dar și din Bhagavadgita), meditează la „self-suficiență” și conchide că orice om (fără nici o excepție) poate trăi ca el, cu foarte-foarte puțin și fără să simtă nevoia unui tovarăș. Spune: „Cel mai potrivit însoțitor e singurătatea”. Pentru a fi fericit nu e nevoie de mai mult. Mesajul cărții e că trebuie să ne întoarcem la o viață cît mai simplă, fără facilitățile aduse de civilizație. Și, în primul rînd, fără unt. Decît să ne înghesuim într-un tren, să suportăm mirosul celorlalți și să fim purtați prin țară după un program strict, mai bine mergem pe jos. „Nu-i mare lucru să străbați 30 de mile”, afirmă fără a clipi Thoreau.

Eroul urmează o dietă sumară, e semi-vegan: mănîncă pește, cartofi, fasole, nuci... Carnea îl dezgustă, deși nu poate elimina peștele din meniul zilei. Uneori, ține post. Cînd îl vizitează pe un anume John Field (care muncește din greu pentru a-și întreține familia), socotește că dacă John ar renunța să mai cumpere unt și ceai, ar fi nevoit să muncească mult mai puțin. Untul și ceaiul îngrădesc libertatea omului. John nu pare foarte convins. Și pe drept cuvînt.

Unii critici îl socotesc pe Henry David Thoreau un reprezentant al „transcendentalismului”. Asta înseamnă, probabil, că adevărul trebuie căutat în sine și numai în sine. Aș preciza că-l putem căuta în noi înșine, dar de găsit nu-l putem găsi decît dacă Cineva l-a pus acolo.

În rest, nu uitați sfatul și exemplul lui Thoreau: o plimbare prin pădure nu strică niciodată. Dar atenție mare la urși! Un nesăbuit l-a împușcat pe Arthur și de atunci urșii sînt foarte nervoși...

P. S. John Updike îl consideră pe Thoreau un proto-ecologist. Neo-ecologiștii de astăzi l-ar putea lua ca Patron.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,242 followers
September 1, 2020
The never quite understood philosophy of a man who swam against the current of mainstream beliefs. Sorry I borrowed these words from comments about another review, a good friend, not stealing though, these are my own scribbles, repeating the impressions here. Henry David Thoreau a native of Concord, Massachusetts, a pencil maker, the family business which financed his expensive Harvard education and published the at first neglected books. A disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson and at his urging in 1845, built a log cabin that he lived in for two years on the shore of Walden Pond ( it was his friend's land). Thoreau first day the 4th of July a good omen, future generations will be greatly influenced by his writings "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation", " Perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer", " All good things are wild, and free". The beauty of the lake, its peacefulness, the surrounding forest, plants, animals, birds in the sky , fish in the water all contribute to the enchanting magic, such thoughts by Mr. Thoreau were formed in a large part by his stay in paradise here. Curiosity his greatest strength and worse enemy, fellow citizens considered the unconventional person odd and maybe unhinged. However the gentleman by himself erected a very comfortable home, small but cozy, kept him warm in the winter and cool in summer, and during the very heavy , fearsome, rather frightening to say the least,
rains storms... not a drop fell inside; even keeping furniture dry for his modest needs. In the frigid winter when the pond freezes he walks to the middle and measures its depth by dropping a rock tied to a string after punching a hole in the ice...102 feet deep . He was never lonely, friends and acquaintances frequently came to see the strange man to his annoyance, too much, he felt happiest alone looking at the blue and sometimes green lake always changing color. Viewing a hawk in the air diving and rising, repeatedly just joyful to be alive, this was what he believed also, nature is glorious, nothing better on Earth. A solitary figure looms,
inside a little boat floating on the water's surface, contended, not caring if he Thoreau caught any fish, watching hour after hour dazzling birds on trees, animals searching for food some put outside by him for them to eat, observing the wild untamed creatures, writing down
their habits , on paper, fascinated. Nonetheless a newfangled contraption, a train roars nearby, so-called civilization creeps closer. This book celebrates the magnificence of the world, and man's destroying its beauty, this must not occur, prevent this crime and preserve nature, Mr. Thoreau believes and the Legend began with a single man in the woods...Still people want to make money, they will try by any means to do, the constant dilemma...beauty or profit? An important work for those interested and should be read. Besides Henry David Thoreau was a fine writer and terrific onlooker...who preferred to sniff a flower, than stomping on it.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
April 24, 2022
Life in the Woods = Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Walden is a book by Henry David Thoreau, First published in 1854. The text is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.

The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and a manual for self-reliance. Walden details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفتم ماه اکتبر سال2017میلادی

عنوان: والدن؛ نویسنده: هنری دیوید ثورو؛ مترجم: علیرضا بهشتی؛ تهران: روزنه، سال1395؛ در570ص؛ شابک9789643345914؛ موضوع صحرا و بیابان - ایالات متحده امریکا - ماساچوست - والدن وود - نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده19م

عنوان: والدن؛ نویسنده: هنری دیوید تارو (ثورو)؛ مترجم: علی‌رضا طاق‌دره؛ تهران: دیار، سال‏‫1395؛ در464 ص؛ شابک9786006712147؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، شهرآب، آینده سازان، سال‏‫‏‏‏1396؛ در471ص؛ شابک9789643143275؛

والدن، نخستین بار با عنوان: «والدن؛ یا زندگی در جنگل» با نگارگری «هنری دیوید ثورو»، در سال1854میلادی، منتشر شد؛ «ثورو» به مدت دو سال و دو ماه و دو روز، در کلبه‌ ای چوبی، کنار دریاچه ی «والدن»، در «کنکورد، ماساچوست»، زندگی کرد؛ او این کلبه را بدست خود در زمین‌های دوستش «رالف والدو امرسون»، ساخت؛ «ثورو» در کتابش، از این دو سال و دو ماه و دو روز می‌گویند، و اینکه چگونه با الهام‌ گرفتن از طبیعت، به اندیشیدن درباره ی اجتماع، و روابط میان انسان‌ها پرداخته‌ است؛ رسیدن به زندگی ساده، و خودکفایی، از دیگر اهداف «ثورو»، در انجام این آزمایش بوده‌ است؛ این تجربه ی «ثورو»، از فلسفه ی تعالی‌گرایی سرچشمه گرفته، که از موضوعات بنیادین دوران «رومانتیسم آمریکایی» بوده‌؛ همانگونه که «ثورو» در کتابش بیان کرده، این کلبه در سه مایلی شهر زادگاهش قرار داشته‌؛ دوستداران آثار «ثورو»، برای بهره‌ بردن از طبع لطیف و نگاه موشکافانه ی ایشان نسبت به پدیده‌ها است، که آثار ایشان را می‌خوانند؛ «ثورو» شیوه‌ هایی از زندگی سعادتمند، و سرپناهی برای رستگاری از عصر سرسام‌زده ی دوره ی خود (و پس از خود) را برای خوانشگر پیشنهاد می‌کنند؛

کتاب در هجده فصل سامان یافته، که هر کدام به موضوعی همانند «مزرعه ی لوبیا»، «برکه‌ ها»، «همسایگانی از وحوش» که توصیفی هستند، و دیگر فصلها همانند «اقتصاد» و «قوانین متعالی‌تر» که ساختاری بیانی و استدلالی دارند، میپردازند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 03/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Luís.
1,864 reviews522 followers
May 27, 2023
Walden is a somewhat atypical and indefinable book: between autobiography, philosophy, and poetry, Thoreau tackles varied themes in the account of his original “experience” of life. Indeed, for two years, he lived isolated in a cabin near Walden Pond to detach himself from material goods and have only the essentials for human life - namely food, shelter, clothes, and heat. The story combines very concrete descriptions of his life in Walden (construction of his hut, planting of his field of beans), poetic descriptions of Nature (the pond, the snow, animals of the different seasons), and philosophical reflections ( on the economy, social relations, the need to refocus on Nature amid the Industrial Revolution).
I liked this reading, which I found accessible for a philosophy book. I was sensitive to many ideas developed by Thoreau, particularly those on Nature that are very current: it is not for nothing that Thoreau is considered a pioneer of ecology!
Profile Image for John Wiswell.
Author 39 books406 followers
March 2, 2009
Woefully overwritten to the point where most modern readers who might be moved by Thoreau’s transcendentalism will be put off by the prose alone. If that doesn’t get them, his elitist attitude probably will. Thoreau took Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideals of choosing for yourself and added, “but you’re an idiot if you don’t choose mine.” Too many of his asides are condescending views of society or normal people, evidencing that Thoreau was stuck on other people even if he claimed to be independent or above them. Every few years I’ll fool myself into thinking this book isn’t as bad as I remember, but even last month when I helped a girl with her paper on it, I was reminded that it truly is a dreadful love affair between a writer and his own thoughts. For a clearer, shorter, nearly crystallized version of Thoreau's thoughts in his own words and illustrated by some firmer anecdotes, see his "Civil Disobedience."
Profile Image for Janet.
11 reviews46 followers
October 5, 2007
I've read Walden many times now since that first time in high school. I will always love this book, and it reveals itself anew with each reading.

When I first encountered Thoreau in high school, his words rang in my soul like a prophet's manifesto. I admired what seemed to be his unique courage and absolute integrity. He inspired me to want to "live deliberately," but I knew that a solitary life in a cabin was beyond my abilities. His will seemed so much more resolute than anything I could ever be capable of.

That was a couple of decades ago. What struck on this latest recent reading is just how much this is a young man's book. The voice is that of an idealist, a passionate and lonely misfit who longs for a better way to live and for more authentic relationships with others as well as with himself. I know now that Thoreau lived more like an energetic slacker than a true renunciate. He was too principled to work as a schoolmaster (he refused to beat his charges), and there wasn't much he cared to do apart from reading, writing, and observing nature closely. He didn't have a family to take care of, and his parents were indulgent of his wishes.

His life at Walden was bracing, but it wasn't filled with hardships. His cabin was just a short walk from Concord, and Thoreau went home for Sunday dinners and stayed at the Emersons' place when it got too cold. His folks took care of his laundry. His life of simplicity was strictly voluntary, and he had numerous safety nets. While these facts make Henry David a bit less intimidating, they also make him more recognizable as a human being.

I like this young man, with his snobbery and his idealism, but I know that as a flesh-and-blood person he would have been hard to get to know, and even harder to love. He was probably afraid of intimacy, and even more afraid of failing to live up to his exacting standards. Thoreau was fascinated with purity. His disgust for "brute" appetites is something that we now think we understand as related to a fear of sexuality. He was deeply interested in Hindu dietary laws, and had an aversion to all forms of consumption. For him, the ideal was to become so pure that a few drops of nectar would be sufficient sustenance. Like Thoreau, I'm an ethical vegetarian, so I understand somewhat that urge toward purity. But my appetites are huge, and my life is in many ways a big, sloppy, comfortable mess. In contrast, Thoreau wanted to be free of all social constraints, free of the taint of commerce, free to be "wild." But his vision of wildness was of a clean, solitary life. He didn't want to merge or mingle with anything or anyone.

The descriptions of Walden and the surrounding landscapes are sublime. They will never get stale, and I enjoy them even more now that I live a few miles from Concord and have visited the pond in different seasons.

I look forward to reading this beautiful book again in a few years. I wonder what I'll notice next time?

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
February 14, 2018
Poetic prose or prosaic poetry?

Either way a beautiful work. It has the social commentary of a husbandry lesson and the spiritual depth of a prayer.

It's also apparently timeless. Thoreau's ideas about simplicity and spiritual cleanliness are as relevant today as they were in the 1840s.

I cannot help but mention a college English professor's description of him: "he lived in a shack out on the outskirts of town - he was a bum". Still makes laugh.

Profile Image for Chris Bradshaw.
1 review7 followers
June 2, 2008

When Henry Thoreau went to Walden Pond in 1845, I wonder what he really thought he was doing there. I wonder if he had second thoughts about the whole idea; although when he began it was July, and July is a good month to be outdoors, whatever the weather. The man, and what he did and how he lived and what he lived for have always been a source of inspiration to me, and to many others... Walden is much more than one man's account of the years he spent in the woods communing with nature; it is a statement of defiance. Thoreau was educated at Harvard, and spent some time as a teacher where he despaired of the idea of classroom learning. He had a great respect for the Native Americans, admiring their hardiness and skill. He couldn't understand why people thought of them as inferior. To him, they were wise and strong and more in tune with reality than the farmer with his insulated life. He loved wisdom, and spoke of an enlightened society based on compassion and simplicity. He did not align himself explicitly with any religious view...he was a philosophical person. Solitude was what he valued, not just because he was a thinker, but also because he believed it made you a better person, a more independent mind. These ideas, and the kind of existence they represent, are important for me because I think that we're losing something very crucial...not just in the physical loss of the natural environment, but also in the spiritual environment, which is reliant upon it. If it was obvious 150 years ago, it is now the de facto reality, and the question is: what will it be like 150 years from now?

So...what are we supposed to do about it? You can see how huge the problem is: global warming, overpopulation, poverty, corporate hegemony... You look at it all, and it floors you; you can't see the edges of it because it's all around you, everywhere. It's just how things are...it's what you're used to seeing. And it's horrible, but that's also accepted to a certain degree...the wrongness of it is tolerated because people feel powerless, or bogged down, or maybe they're just tired of trying...all valid points and very understandable ones. I think Henry would look at it as a consequence of a compulsively complicated culture, and once you look at the massiveness of what we have done, the sheer size of our footprint, maybe you can see it too. Going to the woods ain't gonna cut it... But for the people who feel the way Henry felt, who see what he saw in the deep waters of Walden Pond, the option of inaction is no option at all. The real power of his words is in the actions of those they inspire...the good people doing the hard work of trying to make this culture a less complicated one, and maybe they'll succeed and maybe they won't...the value is in the attempt.

It begins with an idea; ideas are the seeds of change, they are what our culture rests upon. But, like a seed, they will become nothing without the proper attention and care. The best one's change the world, the worst one's bring the world to it's knees...which is where we are now. Is it a good idea to continue polluting the planet when we know that it will kill us in the end? No, but that continues. Is it a good idea to pamper the wealthy and tax the poor? No, but that continues. People see these things and forget about Walden Pond because it seems small and ineffectual. It says something about the spirit of a society when the best ideas are purposefully abandoned for shiny, complicated, bad one's. But the people who benefit most from the bad ideas are the people who are effectively running the show. And so they dress them up and give them interesting titles and wrap them in exciting packages and peddle them as good one's. Henry built his home with the trees he took from the forest surrounding the pond at Walden. He built it with tools he borrowed from his neighbors, in good faith, and used recycled materials for what he couldn't get from the woods. It was a good house and it kept him warm in the winter, cool in the summer and dry when it rained. The great wisdom of his life was in how he lived it, with care and appreciation and respect for what was in his environment. Is it a good idea to live as a student, no matter your age? Yes, and also to be a teacher of good ideas, as Henry was.

Thoreau stayed at Walden Pond for two years, wrote extensively in his journal, then left. He could have stayed, I suppose, but solitude is not something which benefits forever. I think he says as much, though I'm not sure. He stayed long enough to learn what he needed to, then he moved on. There is wisdom in that, too. Take what you need and leave the rest. Things are changing, despite how it seems sometimes. People are angry. They're tired of being scared. Maybe they won't go to the woods; maybe that's not even an option anymore. The "woods" now are more a state of mind, a world view. Whatever happens, Walden will be there, as full of good ideas as it ever was...because a truly good idea will always be good, no matter what the censors say.
Profile Image for Swrp.
665 reviews
November 29, 2021
First Published: August 9, 1854

Thoreau's Walden is a masterpiece and timeless... a mandatory read in today's world..

A voyage of self-discovery and manual for self-reliance.

I don't even know how to describe, but there is that peace and calmth in Thoreau's words. It is so important to have peace of mind, in order to remain in one piece...

Wishing you all warmth, peace and fulfillment. You need to read Walden at least once.

Thoreau's words:

"Direct your eye right inward, and
you'll find
A thousand regions in your mind
Yet undiscovered. Travel them,
and be
Expert in home-cosmography."

"They love the soil which makes their graves, but have no sympathy with the spirit which may still animate their clay."

"It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves."

"A living dog is better than a dead lion. Shall a man go and hang himself because he belongs to the race of the pygmies, and not be the biggest pygmy that he can? Let every one mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made."

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest."

"Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights."

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."

"The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star."
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,383 followers
January 1, 2019
Thoreau and I have an essential difference of philosophy: I am an Epicurean, and he's an asshole.

A puritan may go to his brown-bread crust with as gross an appetite as ever an alderman to his turtle. Not that food which entereth into the mouth defileth a man, but the appetite with which it is eaten. It is neither the quality nor the quantity, but the devotion to sensual savors.

Walden has some great moments. I appreciate that Thoreau was not just the original hippie, but the original of a particularly cool kind of hippie: the practical kind. I grew up around people like this in Western Mass - people who were really running small farms, building their own shit, forging their own ways - hippies with skills, as opposed to the groovy kind. They're a terrific sort of people. Doing the stuff of life yourself is great.

And I've always loved that most famous quote, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." No matter what's going on for me, it makes me feel good. When things aren't going well, it makes me feel less alone. When things are going great it makes me feel smugly superior, and that's nice too.

I heart introverts
I liked parts of the Solitude chapter. Everyone's probably heard this quote:
To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
But here's a passage I like even more:
We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day,and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war.
Ha..."give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are." Awesome.

And he doesn't fuck around
My edition includes On Civil Disobedience, wherein Thoreau - who, as you may know, went to jail for refusing to pay his taxes in protest of the criminal Mexican War - does some pretty fire and brimstone shit:
When a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military laws, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty so much more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army...Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.
Kinda makes you feel like a wiener, still complaining about Al Gore, right? Thoreau was a badass.

But he's sortof obnoxious
I think one thing that bugs me is, he's constantly banging on about how easy life would be if everyone just did like he did. And partly, as he says himself, that's because he "simplifies" - he gives up almost every luxury, so it's much easier to meet his needs. I don't think he even has the internet, so that alone saves him like $40 a month. But partly it strikes me as dishonest.

There's a smugness about Walden that puts me off. It's particularly grating in the Baker Farm chapter, where he lectures a poor guy with a wife and three kids about how much easier life would be if they just did it Thoreau's way. And I was like a) what if this dude thinks his kids should eat anything besides beans? and b) if you get cold you just go to your mom's house for the weekend, so your whole shtick is a little bit disingenuous, homie. Thoreau has a big safety net. Even the land he's living on is borrowed from Emerson. The poor Irish guy has no such advantages.

There may be a reason for his weirdness. My book club got in a long and interesting discussion of whether Thoreau may have had Asperger's Syndrome. More on that here and here, and if you Google "Thoreau Asperger's" you'll find plenty more. There's even a whole book called Writers on the Spectrum: How Autism and Asperger Syndrome Have Influenced Literary Writing that throws in Dickinson, Yeats and Melville for good measure. I don't consider myself qualified to have an opinion about this, but it's a fun thing to bring up at your next dinner party.

And he's pretty long-winded
I mean, at one point towards the end he goes on for like five pages about sand. "I feel as if I were nearer to the vitals of the globe, for this sandy overflow is something such a foliaceous mass as the vitals of the animal body." Whaaaat the fuck, Thoreau, shut up.

So it's tough to know what to make of this book.
I rarely enjoyed reading it, but I underlined like half of it. (Okay, sometimes it was just so I wouldn't forget what an asshole he is.) He's often right, but always annoying. There's a lot going on here, and much of it is worthwhile, but I can't exactly recommend it to you, because I doubt you'll like it. I didn't. I respected it. But I didn't like it.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,228 followers
November 10, 2017
I love Thoreau's ideals. Taking care of nature is of paramount importance, especially these days as technology flings us farther and faster into the future than we've ever gone before.

I also love Walden because I grew up near the pond and would pass it on my way into Boston back in the days when I was a young English major in college. Back then I looked upon this book and its ethos as a rallying banner for people who gave a shit about Mother Earth.

Given a bit of reflection after a more recent reread, I feel like there's a hitch in Thoreau's practical theory. I mean, he went out there and survived in a cabin in the woods for a couple years and then wrote a book saying that everyone is capable of doing the same, and he got a little uppity about the people who did not. However, with no one else to care for but himself, Thoreau's wilderness trials weren't the same as what they'd be if you had to do this your whole life with no reprieve and a family in tow. Plus, even though it was a rougher landscape back then, spending a little time in the rural Massachusetts suburbs doesn't cut it, imo. Heck, even back then he could have hopped a train passing on the tracks adjacent to the pond and been back in Boston within the hour.

However, that doesn't wholly detract from my warm fuzzy feelings for Walden and what it stands for.
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,579 followers
April 29, 2023
Book Review
Walden, an American classic...few of us have likely read all 350+ pages, unless you were an English major. For most, perhaps 10-15 pages in high school or a college literature course introduced you to Thoreau and Walden. Famed philosopher and thinker, it's a book that transports you to nature and the simplicities of life... helping to discover who you are, what you want and where things are going. A bit of an existential crisis, so to speak. It's a good book. I have nothing against it, but it didn't resonate with me as much as I'd have liked.

I tend to be character and plot-based, when it comes to literature I enjoy. The main character, besides Thoreau, was passion/life/searching... it's not a work of fiction, tho some may take it that way. Perhaps a collection of essays, early journal writing. Blogging?

All in all, beautiful language. Great images. Lots to think about. Worth reading those 10 to 15 pages. But unless you are into philosophy, it'll be a hard read. I'm a thinker, but not in this way. I'm glad I read the full text... and a few pages several times for comparative purposes in different courses. Take a little on for yourself.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Profile Image for Amor Towles.
Author 28 books20.8k followers
October 25, 2016

This summer, the Wall Street Journal asked me to pick five books I admired that were somehow reminiscent of A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. To that end, I wrote on five works in which the action is confined to a small space, but in which the reader somehow experiences the world. Here is #4:

Ironically, one of the most timely pieces of close-quarters literature is a work written over 150 years ago in which the author voluntarily commits himself to a one-room cabin on the outskirts of town. In Walden Henry David Thoreau isolates himself in the woods to avoid the distractions of ‘modern life’ such as the headlines of newspapers, the gossip of neighbors, and the endless desire for possessions. What he finds in his isolation is not a cessation of life, but a bounding of the spirit. By dampening the insistent noise of the town, he frees himself to dwell on nature, poetry, mythology, philosophy or, in a word, eternity. If Thoreau shook his head with dismay at the distractions in Concord circa 1850, imagine what he would think of our world today! With a 24-hour news cycle, voracious social networks, and vast libraries of entertainment downloadable in the instant, there has never been greater merit in retreating from daily life, if even for an hour. But if reading Walden from end-to-end is not your cup of tea, fear not. Reading a few pages of the book at random can provide the perfect antidote to a hectic day.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,656 followers
April 13, 2017
What a beautiful meditation on nature and simple living!

It's been about 25 years since I picked up Thoreau, and paging through Walden this time I realized I had never read the entire book before. Instead, I had only read excerpts that were included in a literature anthology. While a lot of this book's famous quotes come from early chapters, to fully appreciate Walden you need to read the whole text. Besides his thoughts about trying to live a more meaningful and deliberate life, there are some beautiful descriptions of the woods where he lived, and the reader really gets a sense of what life was like near Walden pond back in 1845. (The book wasn't published until 1854, but Thoreau's experiment started years earlier.)

"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, 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 practise 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 broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."

I've been interested in simplicity and mindfulness for years now, and it felt good to revisit this seminal work. While reading, I was struck by how relevant Thoreau's themes were, despite having been written before the American Civil War. For example, he mentions his concern that so many clothes are being made by factories and the problem of underpaid workers and overpaid corporate bosses -- still a problem today. He talks about people relying too much on meat for their meals-- still a problem, and a habit that isn't environmentally sustainable.

Most importantly, Thoreau meditates on how people fritter away their lives on pursuits that aren't meaningful -- definitely still a problem, and now it's magnified a hundredfold thanks to the easy distraction of smartphones. The modern Thoreau might write, "I put away my phone because I wanted to live deliberately; I didn't want to live my life through a screen."

I read a gorgeous edition of this book that included photographs of Walden Woods by Scot Miller. Seeing the beautiful pictures added a sense of place to my reading, and made it even more meaningful. I highly recommended Walden to anyone interested in mindfulness, simplicity or nature writing.

Favorite Quotes
[from the Introduction by Edward O. Wilson] "Wildness is precious because it persists independently of humanity; it fulfills us but does not need us, and all we can do is choose whether to preserve it or destroy it. Nature is a refuge and an anchor, not an alien world, because it is the birthplace and cradle of the human species."

"I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of."

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

"It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof."

"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrences to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor."

"I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

"I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which mean may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that the corporations may be enriched."

"And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him."

"There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? ... Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?"

"In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely."

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep."

"Our life is frittered away by detail ... Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

"I am sure I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter -- we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea."

"Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry -- determined to make a day of it."

"To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem."

"A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself."

"I had this advantage, at least, in my mode of life, over those who were obliged to look abroad for amusement, to society and the theatre, that my life itself was become my amusement never ceased to be novel. It was a drama of many scenes and without an end ... Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour."

"What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another."

"Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other ... We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war."

"I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown."

"If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal -- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself."

"Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice."

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."

"Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wildness."

"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board."
Profile Image for Amanda.
840 reviews344 followers
February 7, 2017
I had high hopes for this book written by a self-imposed hermit living in the woods. However, this is actually just the thoughts of an ignorantly privileged dude who thinks there's only one correct way to live your life and won't shut up about it. Whilst Thoreau had many ideas that horrifyingly still apply to our lives today, 170 years later, he presents them with a defensive and pompous tone. It was probably to the detriment of Walden that Thoreau published his thoughts almost 10 years after living in the woods. The essays, instead of being beautifully in the moment, seemed contrived and uppity. His writing style was not easy to follow as he bewilderingly blended verbose nature writing with mathematical figures and preachy ideals in difficult prose. I could not tell you what most of the essays contained as I had trouble focusing and wasn't motivated to concentrate. Perhaps I'll get more out of this one day, but for now Thoreau and I are not friends.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,547 followers
April 20, 2017
This utopian text by Thoreau is absolutely beautiful and something to read when you are in those sloughs of life. It will pick you up and transport you as if you, as I have done, were standing on the edge of Walden Pond (near Concord, Mass) and observing its beautiful circular shape before wading in and swimming across this natural monument (saved from developers in the 90s by a group of environmentalists including Robbie Robertson if memory serves). The prose is limpid and perfectly balanced and you really do feel like dropping your iPhone in the toilet and selling all your possessions to live in a cabin...well, until you realize that you just threw away $800...It is a breath of fresh air and remains an classic.
Profile Image for • Lindsey Dahling •.
293 reviews612 followers
July 22, 2022
Oh fuck off, Thoreau.

You were ~a total mountain man hippie living off the land~ that was in reality your bro Ralph Waldo Emerson’s backyard WHILE YOUR MOM DID YOUR LAUNDRY AND YOUR FRIENDS CAME OVER FOR TEA.

HOKAY. Uh huh. Sure, Jan.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,128 reviews30.3k followers
December 5, 2022
I read Walden in a high school Lit class, and this was my first time revisiting at the recommendation of a former lit teacher friend who felt like it would be calming and easy-to-read in the early days following the loss of my dad. She was absolutely right.

Thoreau had me swept up in the simple beauty of the words and the time and place. Perhaps it was dry at times, but there was comfort and reassurance in the routine. There was also hope imbued throughout, which is also what I needed.

Dad was an English major and bibliophile, and I’m certain he read Walden, though I can’t place a memory of him sharing his thoughts with me, like he did with so many other works. I’m seeking any connection to Dad, any remembrance, and I embrace finding that through books and our love of the written word.

Thanks to my dear friend, Pat, for the recommendation.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Mister Jones.
92 reviews17 followers
March 30, 2008
The very first time I read Walden my immediate response was to begin torching its pages one by one and sacrificing each page as literary cow paddies written by a pompous celibate pretentious boob who masqueraded as self-appointed demigogue for the collective conscience of the gods; and of course, when read this way it certainly fits at times Thoreau's rhetoric.

Many years later, I took my paperback copy off my shelf and was ready to pack it up to be dropped off at the nearest thrift shop, but then as I sat on my floor with my fat old textbooks and other worn clothing ready for donation. I begin reading Walden again, and there's just something about it that resonates from another time, another place, and another writer.

Thoreau's conceit can certainly be provocative, but I think he wants that to be exactly the case for his readers; he's mourning the interaction of souls as modernity encroaches upon both the physical landscape and the landscape of the mind.

Living in the woods, facing himself and nature on a equal foothold can be a daunting task, but Thoreau writes about it and makes it so much a part of himself. He wants to be heard within the deepest regions of our souls. Walden is a spiritual work about our world and ourselves, and our failure to connect the two.

At least Thoreau tried, and Walden shines in that attempt.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
October 2, 2018
If I hadn't been reading this for class and skim reading it at 4 AM in a panic to find lines to talk about during class, this would definitely be five stars. But of all the classics I've read--especially essay collections that are usually dry--this one was actually immensely enjoyable! Thoreau created such a complex and interesting blend of social commentary, memoir, and call to action. It revealed a lot about myself that I need to improve on, and it also brought new perspectives of appreciating nature that I hadn't considered. My favorite quote in the entire book--though there are DOZENS I highlighted--was this:

The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment! . . . Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?
Profile Image for سيد محمد .
276 reviews481 followers
February 1, 2023
يجمع السرد بين السيرة الفردية والجمعية وقضية الوجود في جوهرها عبر الحضارات
في هذه المساحة الفكرية يكتب هنري دافيد ثورو بجمال وعمق
معبّرا عن وجهة نظره الخاصة التي تحترم الإنسان
وترفض المازوكية التي يعيش بها بعض الناس
مع أن سبل الحياة أمامهم
يعالج أزمة البشر منطلقا من الاقتصاد
ومتغلغللا في طبقات البنى المجتمعية والنفس الإنسانية
ساعيا إلى تنقية الروح من التبعية والجهل والتكاسل
منطلقا عبر الثقافات في قراءة كونية
لأشكال التحضر التي تختلف ثقافاتها
لكن جوهرها هو الإنسان
ودائما تراه في كلماته
وكأن مفهوم المقال بوصفه محاولة لطبع النفس
في حبر الطباعة ينطبق تماما على كتابته
التي تستثمر رافدها الشعري
مع تحليلها الفكري بوجهيه
الاجتماعي والنفسي
يذكّرك بكبار كتاب المقال
مثل عبّاس محمود العقّاد
في أدبنا العربي الحديث
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,139 reviews

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