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Nature and Walking

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Together in one volume, Emerson's Nature and Thoreau's Walking, is writing that defines our distinctly American relationship to nature.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Beacon Press
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  290 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Jacqueline Masumian
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
As a lover of both nature and walking, I was expecting to enjoy this book. But, apart from a few stunning images in the Thoreau essay, I didn't.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I definitely enjoyed "Walking" more than I did "Nature."
Kelly Lynn Thomas
Read for my Nature Writing class. When either Ralph Waldo or Henry David actually describe nature, they both write beautiful descriptions. And I can't deny their talents for observation.

As a modern, Pagan reader, though, it's hard to get over the (Ralph Waldo's especially) Transcendentalist view that nature is a means to spiritual enlightenment. Not to mention all the talk about how nature bends to "man's dominion as meekly as the ass on which the Savior rode", which of course is the kind of thi
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
I sort of feel that both Emerson and Thoreau are starting to sound a little overly dated, and not in a good way... more in the "we're supporting the domination of nature and non-Europeans but are so focused on our own spiritual development that we don't realize it."

Nonetheless, they're both great essayists, and this particular volume has some really wonderful wood prints that illustrate the two pieces.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it
A nice introduction by John Elder, followed by Thoreau's "Walking," a work with a complex history, published posthumously in 1862, but given as a "read" lecture many times in various forms in the prior decade. It contains some of the most quotable material, and one of the finest opening paragraphs I've read: "I wish to speak a word for Nature...."
Varvara Bondarenko
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Two quite different pieces about nature.
I was quite surprised by some of Thoreau's ideas, e.g. "I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe. And that way the nation is moving, and I may say that mankind progress from east to west" or "Leaving the highlands of Asia, he descends from station to station towards Europe. Each of his steps is marked by a new civilization superior to the preceding, by a greater power of development". Quite America-centrist view, which is completely understandable
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Emerson and Thoreau should not be missed by anyone who is a fan of nature writing. While definitely products of their times, their observations about nature are still relevant today. Emerson is more philosophical and Thoreau more down to earth. I have to admit that I enjoy Thoreau's writing more than Emerson's, but Emerson's "transparent eyeball" is certainly a metaphor not easily forgotten. If I had a choice, I would choose to take a walk with Thoreau rather than have a discussion with Emerson.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The two essays, "Nature" by Emerson, and "Walking" by Thoreau, are essential reads!! If you have even the slightest bit of interest in the environment, mindfulness, or good literature, pick this one up. At times, it was a bit slow moving and mundane to read, however, the difficulty was totally worth it in the end.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book I could not put it down!
This book helps understand nature deeply from language & energy. These men really loved nature.
It is a beautifully written book and I look forward to rereading it again and again.
Blake Roche
Feb 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Worst two essays I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. Common sense drivel and boring boring boring boring boring. Yikes. The only positive is that they were fairly short and didn’t deprive me of TOO much of my life.
Ted Manahan
Oct 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Ralph Waldo Emerson: Strange pronouncements and unsupportable claims. Hard to follow.
Henry David Thoreau: Get out of doors and pay attention.
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
The 3 stars is for Henry
(Just Nature)
Nathan Box
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
For my 2019 writing challenge and in preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020, I am spending the entire year reading and writing about books focused on a journey. For my first book, I dove into “Nature/Walking” by Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau.

Our Relationship to Nature

As a child, one of my favorite books was “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It painted a dire picture of our relationship to nature and leaves the reader grasping for a more symbiotic relationship between ma
I can understand why the two pieces were published together. There is a thread that connects them - the natural world. My feelings on the two are very different.

Nature. While there were many beautiful turns of phrase and expressions I felt I could relate to, overall, that feeling didn't last. It started to feel like poetry, which for me can be a struggle to understand. After awhile, I felt I was being lectured or trapped in a sermon and the worst part of it was feeling like it was coming from a
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western-canon
I had read Emerson's "Nature" before and I thought I liked it. I didn't like it this time. Emerson is so pretentiously neoplatonic—it really turned me off this time around. Do we grow too cynical in our old age to appreciate such spiritualizing of the natural world?

On the other hand, this was the first time I have read Thoreau's "Walking" and I loved it. I always liked Thoreau more than Emerson and reading these two essays side by side points out why. Thoreau's prose is much more playful than th
Emerson, by Nature, means the whole of what exists, the old-fashioned broad definition. I don't really share Emerson's optimism and view of spirituality, so I found his enthusiastic rambling a bit boring.

Thoreau is amazingly romantic. I'd more fun reading him, tho he isn't my type either. At one point his naivety reeealy showed: he said that in North American wilderness one didn't have to fear for one's life because of wild animals, like in Africa. Didn't he know about wolves, bears, mountain li
Larry Wagner
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education, philosophy
While both Emerson and Thoreau have set their topics within nature, there is a whole lot more going on. Emerson seems, most clearly, to be using nature as a means to reformulate Western philosophy, and build a new defence for the existence of God, in a uniquely American way. What Thoreau is up to is more subtle. His talk of a walk through nature, while not nearly as openly philosophical, is no less poignant.

All and all a good read.
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What's the appropriate number of stars to express the following sentiment?

I'm writing a paper that involves the two books in this volume, and while I don't agree with everything Emerson and Thoreau say here, there is plenty to write about and to encourage critical thinking. Thus, I am happy.
Rainer Salahub
Feb 12, 2011 added it
Shelves: own
2 personal essays, one on the positive effects of nature on the mind, body, soul (Nature), the other on the restorative effects and necessity of walking. My first voyage into the back-country this year the first thing I will do is take a walk.
Aaron Lozano
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I had never read either of these authors before (gasp!), however I would say I am not inclined to read Emerson again. His writing to me comes off as some sort of entitled whiny sermon. Thoreau I found much more palatable and will possibly look into more of his writings in the future.
Apr 29, 2011 marked it as to-read
The Faith/Void of American nature writing? The Blatz/Filth? Cheesy edition but I could not resist it.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really can't do justice to this book with words....but with walking...?
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Nature: 2 stars
Walking: 4 stars

What an ego to think Nature "is made to serve."
Cari Jacobs
rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2019
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Harrison Wolstein
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Jan 10, 2019
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in 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted ...more

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