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Thoreau: A Sublime Life

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  56 reviews
“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust.” This graphic novel biography relates the forward looking inspirational life of the great author, philosopher and pioneering ecologist. Henry David Thoreau was also the ...more
Hardcover, 88 pages
Published May 13th 2016 by NBM Publishing (first published August 31st 2012)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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David Schaafsma
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoreau: A Sublime Life is a short, evocative comics biography by French team, writer Maximilien Roy and A. Dan (Daniel Alexandre). It’s not a mere chronological biography—it’s too short for that—but even it were twice the length they wouldn't have been interested in that. What they want to do is create a comics portrait of Thoreau through images and ideas, snapshots more than film, poetic images more than an in-depth philosophical biography. It’s their image of Thoreau.

I know Thoreau’s work, o
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
So much more than Walden...

The subtitle A Sublime Life is an apt choice here, as the book veers into hagiography on several occasions. I did appreciate the deeper context and the glimpses into other parts of Thoreau's life: his dissidence and short incarceration for not paying taxes (The money goes to slavery and wars with Mexico - why would I pay for that? he asks the police chief), his meetings with abolitionists and ties to John Brown, and more about his transcendentalist personal philosophie
BookTomas Gustafsson
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this short graphic novel biography of Henry David Thoreau. It made me curious and now I want to know more about him. The artwork is great, and it's quite poetic; although perhaps it looks at Thoreau as too much of a saint...
Edward Sullivan
A completely admiring graphic biography of Henry David Thoreau. Interesting visual interpretations of episodes from Thoreau's life and depictions of him as a naturalist, philosopher, abolitionist, and dissident. The author does a good job incorporating Thoreau's own words into the text.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults and teens.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
This is a very interesting graphic novel treatment of the life of the famous philosopher, writer, and activist Henry David Thoreau. I had only an inkling of the scope of Thoreau's thoughts and activities - mainly, the usual impression of a philosopher, proto-environmentalist, observing nature at Walden Pond. I had no idea he was a fierce opponent of slavery and a supporter even of John Brown, who was hanged for trying to incite a slave revolt at Harper's Ferry, Virginia.

Thoreau was steadfastly
While this should probably not be a person's only exposure to Thoreau's life and philosophy, as a work of art it is sublime. It is lush, and colorful, and detailed and the layouts compel your eye to linger on every page. It's an impression of the man more than anything else, and as such it serves as an invitation for the reader to do their own research on Thoreau and his writing. Highly recommended!
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I know I don't like Thoreau, but I just really like art, you guys.
Samantha Penrose
Good, though rather sparse.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"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."
The Laughing Man
Sep 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I do not think we shared much of anything with him other than abolition of slavery. His orientalism, his constant appraisal of primitive lifestyle defined by him as "sublime" and all the mysticism he loved, I do not support them at any level. I am a transhumanist, technophile, I can never bear to listen to the irrational rants of the anarcho-primitivists.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Beautiful artwork, solid print quality. Not being familiar with details of Thoreau's life, I learned a good amount from the comic and the essay that followed. As you can imagine, compressing 16 years of life into 76 pages of a graphic novel results in a rushed and disjointed narrative, which makes generous assumptions about reader's knowledge of the background. (Those not knowledgeable may find themselves frustrated by the lack of context.)
Dec 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A quick bio of Thoreau's life. Its wonderfully illustrated, but it feels quite sparse on info. It seems that a certain level of knowledge is assumed going in to this one that I sadly did not have. I learned more from the post script than I did from the main body of work. A solid read, but it left me wanting more detail.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice, quick read for what it was: an illustrated glimpse into the life of Thoreau.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Made me want to take a walk in the woods. :)
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Last month I grabbed several graphic novels from the display at the library celebrating biographies and other historical stories told as comics. This one was short and the art is great, but the snapshot of Thoreau is very limited and obscure actually -- maybe his writing is difficult for me to understand, because there were several quotes included in the text and I really didn't get a great feel for Thoreau. The best part was the afterword by a Thoreau and Emerson scholar. It's a few pages prett ...more
I especially enjoyed A-Dan's artwork, specifically the New England landscapes, reminiscent of watercolor paintings.

I found the disjointed story line a bit simplistic and elementary. The essay included after the graphic story, by Thoreau scholar, Michael Granger, was highly insightful. Granger places Thoreau's life and ideas in historical context. He argues that the traditional image of Thoreau as a "non-violent" "wise man," is a cliche, pointing out that some of Thoreau's speeches support armed
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-stories
Thoreau: A Sublime Life, Dan and LeRoy, nbm Graphic Novels, 4. I think I have an unbroken record of never finishing a single book I was supposed to read in high school. I was OK with C's on book reports. Hey, I was 17! I got a job as an elevator operator in a hospital one summer and, after visiting hours, when things calmed down, I had about four hours per night. The books I read that summer were Moby Dick (unabridged), War and Peace (unabridged), and Thoreau's Walden and Essay on Civil Disobedi ...more
YingYu  Chen
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-book-a-day
I have read many books about Thoreau for younger readers, and this is by far the best if I should only pick one.

In addition to the delivery of graphic, the coloring transcends the atmosphere and the words are precisely what I am looking for— not the 19th century imitation, not the exact wording from Thoreau, and of course not cute and floppy as if the readers are imbeciles.

With the afterwords and supplementary pictures, this could be a classic if one would like to read about Thoreau and his ide
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked this graphic novel well enough. It was a quick read and I thought the scenic art was done really well. Going into this graphic novel, I didn't know a whole lot about Thoreau. I think the main point of this book was to clear up any misconceptions about his personality, but I've never really read anything about him, so there were no misconceptions to clear up. That said, I got to learn a little about who he was as a person, and now I want to go and read more of his work.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a really phenomenal book. At first glance, from the binding it seemed like perhaps a younger child's read. However, after reading, I believe it could be read into early middle school. It's gorgeously illustrated, covers deep and thoughtful themes, and it's a biography that's conveyed in a new and interesting way! Excellent.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful and smart book, and I am considering using it for my Writing Nature course. It’s a good narrative starting point for thinking about Thoreau and his life, and I was surprised that it also had some supplemental material in the back (not to say that I agree with everything they say in it, but it’s a start).
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a Thoreau comic "Cliffnotes." It was just enough information in the comic to get a general idea of Thoreau, without ever really going into any depth. The Forward and Epilogue helped add substance, and the illustrations were good. I almost want to read Walden now. 3*
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brief look at the world of Henry David Thoreau. The graphic presentation is simply masterful. The six page afterword by a noted Thoreau "expert" is worth your while by itself. It helps to shed light on what you have just read.
Abe Something
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What does it mean to be or to do good?
What is the role of a citizen who disagrees with the state?
Can we each follow the path that best suits us and find liberation?
Can we separate enterprise and earnings from living a fulfilling life?
Tara Schaafsma
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Very beautiful book.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story was confusing and hard to follow. The graphics were okay but not good enough to make up for the lack of a story.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit of a deeper look into the things Thoreau did and wrote.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lovely homage to one of my favorite writers/philosophers.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Short visual bio of Thoreau.
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Daniel ALEXANDRE, dit A.Dan, débute comme formateur en informatique et en maths, avant de faire du dessin son métier. Il travaille en tant qu'illustrateur dans le domaine de la nature et du tourisme, puis rejoint Grand Angle pour dessiner Tahya El-Djazaïr.

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