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The Journal, 1837-1861

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  266 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Henry David Thoreaus Journal was his lifes work: the daily practice of writing that accompanied his daily walks, the workshop where he developed his books and essays, and a project in its own rightone of the most intensive explorations ever made of the everyday environment, the revolving seasons, and the changing self. It is a treasure trove of some of the finest prose in ...more
Paperback, 700 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published June 1960)
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Graychin (D. Dalrymple)
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It can only be the massive bulk of the thing in unexpurgated form that keeps the Journal from its rightful place on the top shelf of American literature. NYRB's abbreviated edition may do something to help more readers find it. Thoreau in the Journal (especially by his mid-thirties, when hed grown up a bit) is better than he is anywhere else: fresher, less naive and less preachy, more reflective and self-questioning. Whatever he turns his eyes to, his powers of observation astonish. So does his ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Okay, this is cheating on my part, but it is good some version of the Journal is out there (so go get it, dear ones). What I have, and have had since purchase in the early 1970's, is the Dover two volume complete journals of Thoreau, every little observed gnat or weed, every small exclamation of awe or beauty, every depressed rumination over friendship. It was in his journals that our Henry worked out what would become his essays and his books; where he polishes phrases and notes the bloom time ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a rough draft of Walden with lots more weather and plant observations. He recorded on July 6, 1845: I wish to meet the facts of lifethe vital facts, which are the phenomena or actuality the gods meant to show usface to face, and so I came down here. Also reveals more of his ornery character: Most New England biographies and journalsJohn Adamss not exceptedaffect me like the opening of tombs. Good for a few pages a day, as a companion to contemplation. ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
It's really bizarre how perceptions can catapult you back in time. I remember sniffing a bottle of perfume I forgot about and finding myself 17 again, on the dance floor of some random party, surrounded by childhood friends. The same feeling comes when seeing this book. Not that it's been a long time since I've read it - couple of months - but it has strong sensations clinging to it.

It's no surprise to my friends I have a tough time finding work that fits me as a person. I don't know why - I
Estep Nagy
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great though Walden is, for me Thoreau's journals are better. When you compare his writing in these to that in Walden you see that he had, in small but important ways, in Walden edited himself for publication, a gesture that doesn't make Walden worse but it does limit one's angle of vision on the man himself. And while Thoreau the writer is wonderful, canonical, etc, nevertheless for me Thoreau the man is absolutely electric. Following him through the seasons, settling into his rhythm of ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-writing
I was determined to finish this in 2019 😂 Scraped in with 6 hours to go! You might say Thoreau was my partner throughout 2019, given that he lingered with me for so long. I much prefer his journals to his published works. He was an excellent journalist.
Francisca Pageo
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CLibrosuesta creer y asimilar cómo alguien puede amar tanto la naturaleza, tanto que se adentra en ella y la hace suya, propia, casi digna de la vida de un animal silvestre que crece, se entremezcla y se diluye con ella. Así es la vida que Henry David Thoreau nos relata en sus diarios, los cuales abarcan desde el 22 de Octubre de 1837 hasta el 2 Septiembre de 1861. En ellos, Thoreau nos habla de los bosques, lagos, riachuelos, árboles y animales. Nos los describe, y como él mismo dice: No podría ...more
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: individualists, writers, iconoclasts
Recommended to James by: Ennyman's Territory (
This is a book to read and reread, relishing the thoughts of Henry David Thoreau on life, nature and humanity. He was a complex but simple man, well-read but for all his reading his imagination was on fire with thoughts that were his own and seeds for the ages. He was a journalist in the original sense of the word as one who creates a journal, and his was based on the facts of his life as he lived mainly in Concord and briefly at Walden Pond.
"How simple is the natural connection of events. We
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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, to 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 practice 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 ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Thoreau and was delighted to see his journals collected in a book. He writes beautifully and his thoughts about life and society are often brilliant and thought-provoking, though there was a bit too much about nature for my taste (detailed descriptions of plants, animals, seasons, temperature, weather, ponds).
A good guide for hiking, inspires better observation and description. Wonderful variety. Not plot bound, which I like.
Roo O'brien
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
To be dipped into, each visit like a meditation- often beautiful, not always easy, slowing the mind down to the pace of another world and Thoreaus obsessions. Easier to read outside... Casually misogynistic in places and often rude - today, he would be diagnosed with Aspergers - he was as we all are a product of his time and his support for abolition and intense love of nature easily redeems him. ...more
Robert Walkley
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. I like Thoreau's writing in the journals better than in his books. This book gives a great sample of what the journals are all about. Highly recommended. And you can set your own pace!
Doris Raines
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jeff Carpenter
I was researching his relationship to creeks and rivers and I couldn't really find what I was looking for.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A long, mind-salving, soul-grabbing, read for these difficult times. A reminder to keep our eyes open and focused on the world that matters most.
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry D. Thoreau (1817-1862) comenzó a escribir su diario cuando tenía veinte años. Desde ese momento y hasta su muerte completaría más de siete mil páginas que editarían por primera vez Bradford Torrey y Francis H. Allen en 1906. Esta primera publicación se repartía en catorce volúmenes. Luego llegarían nuevas reimpresiones y ediciones las de Dover Books o Peregrine Smith Books- que irían completando el original tras el descubrimiento de nuevos textos.

En la edición que nos ocupa, El Diario
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Journal is huge. To be accessible to most, an abridgment is necessary. This abridgment, one of the most recent, succeeds in bringing the deep spirituality, keen observation and passionate but simple prose of Henry David Thoreau's private writing together in a still large but manageable volume.

To review the writing of Thoreau himself is a different affair than review a particular collection of same. Though at times the man does allow himself to be carried away by the smallest of details,
Jack Castillo
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Two years in the making and I finally finished it. I started reading Thoreau in 2015 after reading Maria Popova's blog "Brain Pickings." Popova is very much into Thoreau, if you haven't checked out Brain Pickings I would highly recommend it. I'm not sure I would recommend Thoreau to anyone, it really depends on where you are in your life on weather or not you will get anything out of him. There were no magical moments for me but at the same time I did learn to take more time in observing my ...more
Saket Suryesh
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Disarmingly honest, a great viewpoint and poetic in rendering. What a memoir, so well written, so good..must read. No pretence, no self-righteous high moral ground, no dirty linens being washed here..vow!
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every author should have this book on the bedside table. Not only because it has the day to day life etched on to the working table but also because it opens oneself to give importance to things that are common place but have a huge potential of becoming uncommon, only if we focus.
For one who enjoys the great outdoors, walking, and hiking, its a great companion, also helped me to get started into keeping a journal.
Its like a continual never ending read, always checking something in it..
Carolyn Hoffman
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I prefer the journals to most of the other writings . I love their immediacy and the writing is still amazing.I'm re-reading Thoreau's journals again. Sometimes I no sooner finish then I start again.
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I LOVED Thoreau's journals when I was younger. I think I read all 14 volumes. If not all, then I certainly came close.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Like poetry. Beautiful and brilliant and extremely applicable.
Apr 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: superior
great collection. my copy is currently roaming the country on a great adventure.
Rick Kennerly
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May 22, 2015
Jeff Stagnaro
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Mar 02, 2018
Katherine Tallent
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Feb 15, 2015
Lee Frazier
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Feb 19, 2015
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NYRB Classics: The Journal of Henry David Thoreau 1837 - 1861 3 11 Oct 24, 2013 05:19PM  

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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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