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The Maine Woods (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,084 ratings  ·  85 reviews

Qui décrira la douceur indicible et la vie immortelle de cette austère forêt, où la Nature, même au coeur de l'hiver, est toujours à son printemps, où les arbres couverts de mousse et en état de décomposition ne sont pas vieux mais semblent dotés d'une jeunesse éternelle : et la Nature bienheureuse et innocente, tel un enfant serein, est trop contente pour faire du bruit,

Paperback, 347 pages
Published June 13th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 1864)
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David Lentz
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a child, I vacationed on the lakes of Maine. I spent fours years there in college. I skied Sugarloaf and Squaw Mountain, the latter once with a wind chill of 28 below zero. In my youth I climbed Mt. Katahdin. I have caught-and-released salmon in Moosehead Lake in the shadow of Mt. Kineo. And traveled nearly the entire length of the Maine coast. This summer I drove through the woods of northern Maine on the way to Prince Edward Island in Canada for a brief visit. But the best way to see the he ...more
Chris J
What is this book? - The Maine Woods is a spliced together, montage of three different canoe/hiking trips that Thoreau and various others took during the 1850s. These expeditions were entirely inland, through vast forests that scant white men had yet seen. From what I have read, editing this collection of writings is what occupied Thoreau during the last years of his life (he died in 1862).

Why did I read this book? - I read this book chiefly because of an upcoming trip to Maine (although not to
Brenda Pike
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
I started reading this when we climbed Mount Katahdin this summer, and as a travelogue, I found it fascinating. Despite growing up in Maine, I don't know much about it during that time period, and reading about how unsettled some of these now-familiar places were is intriguing.

However, I don't know how far to trust Thoreau. He seems to be the sort of person who exaggerates his own accomplishments and the faults of those around him. And I think he also intentionally exaggerates the wildness of th
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
Having read all of Thoreau over the years, not rushing, I can say that The Maine Woods is my favorite, along with parts--the funny and the elegiac parts--of Cape Cod. Certainly not Walden, a young man's elevated philosophizing, essentially sophomoric in the best sense. Parts of the Journals, yes, very limited parts, for much of the Journals reads like Melville' chapter on cetology, only more Latinate.
The Maine Woods features Abenaki language (I think--not Malasete-Pasamoquoddy) in its precision
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thoreau goes on some trips in Maine. I wanted to feel close to nature when reading this book - but actually, I felt sad that Thoreau didn't seem to have much connection with the other people around him. Good book if you want a glimpse of that time in history and some good naturalist's listings. Good book if you want to learn more about Thoreau. Not a good book if you want to feel a sense of adventure and being close to the universe.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's a magnificent journey into the Maine woods. His descriptions of the areas he traveled, the economies & lifestyle were very interesting. The only thing that detracted from this is my dislike of him. He continually borrows what he can't afford with little thought - seems like he feels it is his due. He judges others with an arrogance that is appalling & so offhand. He lacks any empathy towards others. He is fairly intelligent & knowledgeable, but his manner just puts me off. ...more
Hank Stuever
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read "The Maine Woods" while I was in the Maine woods. The key differences being things like Deep Woods Off!, Adirondack chairs, and cocktails while waiting for dinner in the main lodge.
robin friedman
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With Thoreau In The Maine Woods

In 1848, 1853,and 1857, Henry David Thoreau travelled to the wilderness -- forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains in the northwest part of Maine. He wrote three lengthy essays describing each of his journeys, and they were gathered together, as Thoreau had wished, and published after his death, together with an appendix, as "The Maine Woods." It is a moving book, a classic work of American literature, and the founder of a genre of descriptive travel writing.

Mar 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I decided to go ahead and mark this as read, even though I only actually read the "Katahdin" piece. This lives on my phone...I bought this whole Thoreau e-book collection for like a buck on Amazon, and so whenever I am in a place where I am bored but have no data and no other books to read (like a pub in Canada) I can read more Thoreau. So I'll get to the other parts eventually.
Thoreau spelled Katahdin "Ktaadn" because he is just so precious. Seriously, everything else is spelled the way it is
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, 2018
A mix of dry slogging endlessness with moments of clarity and humor all surrounded by the Latin names for every damn thing that exists in the Maine wilderness. Am I glad I read it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Not a chance.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
And odd book at first glance, it appears to be nothing more than a collection of accounts of 3 different trips Thoreau took to wilds of Maine, but in the fact all 3 are unified by T's increasing fascination with the primitive world (something hard to imagine these days, I know) and the "wild," both environmental and psychological. The first section, Ktaadn, is the most well-known, as it describes T's trip to the top of this famous mountain, where T. experiences one of his trademark connections w ...more
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
On a rainy day, I enjoy going to the Maine woods with Thoreau. Here is a concise, tightly written work, where there is humor, sadness, and joy, communicated by a powerful mind. Mostly I enjoy the sparse language of the description of woods, waterways, and all that lives there, but the tinge of sadness comes when he describes the abuse of the natural resources already taking place in the 1860's.
He had a deep concern for the environment at a time when the country's natural resources seemed unlimit
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Re-read this for the first time since middle school. I appreciate it more as an adult, even though I loved it as a kid. His brief paragraph describing an "uncivilized" owl is still one of my favorite things in American literature.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry David Thoreau is my favorite American author, and lately I've been trying to read some of his lesser-known works. "The Maine Woods" is one of these, and I immensely enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect book by any means, however, and I should note that there are problematic aspects with some of Thoreau’s descriptions of Native Americans. He seems to be naively drawn into the simplistic stereotype (which is sometimes known as “the Noble Savage” stereotype) that Native Americans are somehow natura ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, classics-2020
While I greatly enjoyed this first hand look at Maine's history, I wasn't prepared to fully appreciate this work for what it is. THe Maine Woods is a collective thoughts recording of several of Thoreau's adventures in Maine. Though it is sprinkled with some poetic thoughts it is by no means a cohesive narrative, and it is my own failing for not being as comfortable out of the familar structure of one.

One aspect I enjoyed and found surprising was Thoreau's interactions and thoughts on the native
Just fabulous! -- And it's headed back to the Book Nook, ready to be packed up for the AAUW book sale, opening in Brevard, NC, on Saturday, June 16th!

I had forgotten what a sense of humor Thoreau had, and I found myself chuckling often and sometimes even laughing out loud. For instance, before starting out for "Ktaadn," they found Greenleaf's Map of Maine on the wall of a public house and, "in good faith, traced what we afterwards ascertained to be a labyrinth of errors."

Great tales of camping,
Anton Frommelt
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful descriptions of a natural world that has essentially been lost with the development of the country. The most intriguing bits for me were reading about Thoreau's journeys with Native Americans; they were mentally, physically, and spiritually more in touch with nature than perhaps any other culture in history. The stories of the Maine woods will make you want to hike and make you sad that you cannot join Thoreau in his explorations.
Josh Davidson
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Only read first piece, may go back and read others. I had hiked Katahdin three times, so the first piece was what I was interested in. I loved every page, but could see how it could be too slow or boring. There wasn't a lot of poetic interludes, mostly a factual retelling on the journey upriver and then up mountain.
Lawrence  D.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is three separate essays written by Thoreau. Each essay, roughly 100 or so pages long, is about three excursions Henry D. Thoreau made into the Maine wilderness. After Thoreau's death, Ticknor and Fields collected each of these essays and combined them to create this book. So, there is not any flow between the separate excursions, although the foreword clears these issues up.

Each essay about the separate excursions are very well written and quite detailed. Descriptions of how he was t
Jeff DeRosa
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To fully appreciate this writing you must come equipped with a quality map and an already established interest in northern (not coastal) Maine. Without the appreciation I suspect you'll feel cheated by reading this book. After all, this book is not Walden. Instead, it is simple; direct. It's more observational than philosophical. Then again, the contemporary style of Thoreau's writing is also part of the intrigue. The observations are accessible. It's a quick read.

That's not to say it's writte
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful travelogue detailing Thoreau's three trips through the wilds of Maine in the mid-19th century. "What is it to be admitted to a museum, to see a myriad of particular things, compared with being shown some star's surface, some hard matter in its home!" What is remarkable to me is how a lot of the landscape he travelled through remains remarkably intact, heavy logging notwithstanding. The brook trout are still "bright fluviatile flowers"; the call of the loon remains "a very wild sound, q ...more
J. Dorner
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very detailed account of the travels in 1846, 1853, and 1857 of Thoreau. What they ate, what they wore, where they slept, and how much items cost along the way are all recorded. There’s mention of intense cold of 40 to 50 Fahrenheit (which is above freezing, so I’m not sure what to make of that).
I’ve never had tea sweetened with molasses. Nor have I ever eaten moose horn. However, the oddest meal I came across in this book was as follows: “The Indians baked a loaf of flour bread in a s
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This book covers three trips to Maine in the 1840s and 1850s. The first piece is about going to “Mt. Ktaadn”. He describes the journey, which is interesting enough, but there is not a lot of plot. They venture further and further into the wild, after a few remote farms, it is just logging camps which operate in the winter. One crazy thing is that there was a plethora of butter and the hiking crew rubbed it into their boots every night.

The next piece is a river trip, canoes, fishing, fires. here
JoAnn Plante
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, although some of the passages were difficult to understand. It is written in 18th century english. Thoreau does give some very descriptive notes on camping, canoeing, and wildlife. There are some indian words to learn, too. I also enjoyed how he spoke about the indians with respect and admiration. I learned about the indian culture just by reading about his travels throught the woods. While a bit difficult to read, it contains so much information that is still relevan ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is not the Thoreau of Walden. The verbal fireworks are tamped down, the philosopher hat is worn but lightly. This is a more mature Thoreau meditating on the nature of wildness and the different ways that European Americans and Native Americans have interacted with the New England landscape.
Jim Gallen
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The Maine Woods” is Henry David Thoreau’s account of three excursions into the wilderness of that was the Maine of his time. The first visit was to Ktaadn (modern Katahdin) in 1846. The second was to Chesuncock Lake in 1853 and the last to the Allegash and East Branch in 1857.

Conditions at a time when settlers hugged the seashore were obviously primitive although I wonder how much someone familiar with the area would recognize. The narrative is that of a report by a very observant explorer sens
Having read Walden and pieces of his other works in addition to growing up part time in Maine, I couldn’t wait to read this when I found this in a box of old books in my attic.
This edition was a little more difficult to read than others based on reviews for two reasons: not only did Thoreau edit this several times himself, splicing together his Maine works for several years before his death, but another editor did as well, making annotations and notations throughout the book. I may have to bre
Kevin McCarthy
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
It's always enjoyable to read Thoreau's accounts of outdoor adventures. This one doesn't have quite as much of his philosophical ramblings as I was hoping for, although there are some gems here and there. My favorite bit is when he ponders that while mankind presumes that his presence has been felt everywhere, there are still places where one can experience "that Earth of which we have heard, made out of Chaos and Old Night...the fresh and natural surface of the planet Earth, as it was made fore ...more
Hal Brodsky
Maine the way it was.
Travelling Maine the way it used to be: with a 200+ pound canoe, coffee, sugar, dried pork, four, a gun, a hatchet, matches and some fishing string..... no maps, no GPS, no tent, no sleeping bag, no change of clothes, no insect repellent, etc.
Thoreau and his companions would come upon a mountain and just climb it. They waded through lakes, poled upstream through rapids, portaged for miles... really, its pretty amazing.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully illustrated with black and white prints, relevant to the text, by Henry Bugbee Kane. Bought as a remainder many moons ago. The naturalist Thoreau comes to the fore, interleavened with echoes of dismay at the way people are using the resources up. Lots of portages, schlepping a birch bark canoe over dodgy or submerged trails. Great stuff. Nice informative appendixes. A vicarious 'tonic of wildness'.
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Nature Literature: 150th Anniversary Tour of "The Maine Woods" 5 13 Jul 21, 2014 08:42AM  

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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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