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Walden: Illustrated Edition PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Walden: Illustrated Edition
Author: Henry David Thoreau
Publisher: Published April 9th 2017 by American Renaissance Books (first published 1854)
ISBN: null
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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This carefully-prepared edition of Thoreau's masterpiece includes 10 beautiful illustrations.

45 review for Walden: Illustrated Edition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    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 fo 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    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 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Oh my gosh, I don't need to mention the good things I've learned reading Thoreau, but I MUST say that every passionate Thoreau fan I ever met in college was a COMPLETE DOUCHEBAG in a very eco-friendly, pseudo-hipster, sweetly male-centric way. Ugh one time when I was a sophomore I had to choose a topic for a group presentation in Eng 253 and I was like ooh, transcendentalist literature! And suddenly I found myself stuck in a group with two fucking PERFECT Thoreau-head douchebags, all scruffy wit Oh my gosh, I don't need to mention the good things I've learned reading Thoreau, but I MUST say that every passionate Thoreau fan I ever met in college was a COMPLETE DOUCHEBAG in a very eco-friendly, pseudo-hipster, sweetly male-centric way. Ugh one time when I was a sophomore I had to choose a topic for a group presentation in Eng 253 and I was like ooh, transcendentalist literature! And suddenly I found myself stuck in a group with two fucking PERFECT Thoreau-head douchebags, all scruffy with their cute little caps and worn-in skinny jeans and gentle voices, and they were all about to not let me do ANYTHING in the project and they were always exchanging these little smirks with each other when I'd volunteer for something, because I mean LOOK at me there is just nooo way I could possibly have EVER read Thoreau and like, UNDERSTOOOOOD IT right? And ever since then I'm like HELLLLL naa to that shit and I can spot the Thoreauvian Douchebags in an English class in under 2 seconds seriously.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    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 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Bradshaw

    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 s 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    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 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?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    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 r 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Wiswell

    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 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."

  11. 5 out of 5

    James

    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 agains 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. [polldaddy poll=9729544] [polldaddy poll=9719251]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    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 overwr 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    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 b 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."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    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 an 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mister Jones

    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 the 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Thoreau makes us an apology for a healthy life away from the bustle of cities and constraints of modern society and castrating. Life as it should savor with nothing and everything around us and beyond us when we want others through profit prohibit enjoyment. Unlike many philosophers understandable for a pretentious intellectual minority, Thoreau speaks true to all of the original life that we live simply and "naturally poetic." An indispensable bible!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    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 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?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rosie Nguyễn

    Chắc đây là quyển sách hay nhứt tui từng đọc á. Tui cảm thấy vậy. Ờ mà không. Lý trí thì nói là chắc chắn là có những quyển khác hay và hay hơn rồi, tui phải biết chứ. Nhưng mà đọc quyển này xong thì cảm xúc lên cao ngất trời làm lu mờ tất cả những quyển sách khác làm tui chỉ biết Walden thôi. Walden ơi Walden ơi. Sách nói về những đề tài mà ngày xưa thời ông này viết quyển này chưa chắc là đã được quan tâm nhiều (nghe nói cuộc đời viết lách của ổng không ít lần rơi vào trường hợp sách viết rất h Chắc đây là quyển sách hay nhứt tui từng đọc á. Tui cảm thấy vậy. Ờ mà không. Lý trí thì nói là chắc chắn là có những quyển khác hay và hay hơn rồi, tui phải biết chứ. Nhưng mà đọc quyển này xong thì cảm xúc lên cao ngất trời làm lu mờ tất cả những quyển sách khác làm tui chỉ biết Walden thôi. Walden ơi Walden ơi. Sách nói về những đề tài mà ngày xưa thời ông này viết quyển này chưa chắc là đã được quan tâm nhiều (nghe nói cuộc đời viết lách của ổng không ít lần rơi vào trường hợp sách viết rất hay mà bán không hề chạy, hổng bao nhiêu người chịu mua), nhưng mà trong thời buổi ngày nay thì đều là những đề tài rất nóng hổi. Ví dụ như về tác hại của chủ nghĩa tiêu dùng, quay về với cái gốc tốt lành tĩnh lặng của Mẹ Thiên Nhiên, minimalism, sống một cuộc đời thanh đạm đơn giản về vật chất mà phong phú về tinh thần, đi vào phát triển nội tâm bên trong của con người thay vì tìm kiếm câu trả lời bên ngoài, đề cao lối sống ẩn dật cô độc như cư sĩ. Sách có nhiều câu cực kỳ đắt giá, đúng là những gì tui đang tìm kiếm, về ý nghĩa của đời người, người ta sinh ra để làm gì, về bản chất của lao động trí óc và lao động tay chân, về đọc sách. Có những đoạn miêu tả cảnh thiên nhiên nhẹ nhàng, tinh tế với ngôn từ hay không tả sao cho hết, đến nỗi vừa đọc tui vừa ấp tay ôm quyển sách vào lòng mơ mộng, hoặc đọc một vài trang lại ngồi áp má lên những trang giấy và dừng lại hít thở vì thấy sao mà đẹp đẽ quá. Quyển này đọc xong gạch chân ghi chú bung bét hết cả lên vì quá nhiều suy nghĩ và cảm xúc. Nói là hay nhưng mà khó đọc vãi nồi. Tui đọc lê lết mất hơn 2 tháng mới xong và phải cố lắm. Vì những câu phức với từ ngữ, ý tưởng khá khó hiểu. Có chỗ mà một câu văn dài tới cả nửa trang giấy. Và câu này với câu liền kề nó có khi chả liên quan gì nhau, chỉ có liên quan trong suy nghĩ kỳ lạ của tác giả. Mặc khác là ông tác giả kiến thức quá phong phú và sâu sắc, ổng trích dẫn đông tây kim cổ từ Khổng Tử Lão Tử qua thần thoại Hy Lạp La Mã, qua Bhagavad Gita tới kinh Cựu Ước Tân Ước, rồi còn Shakespeare và một ngàn không trăm lẻ tám các ông bà tác giả khác. Tóm lại một câu là tui muốn trở thành một người như ông tác giả.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    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 li 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    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.Thoreau and I have an essential difference of philosophy: I am an Epicurean, and he is an asshole. Walden has some great moments. I appreciate that Thoreau was not just the original hippie, but the original of a parti 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.Thoreau and I have an essential difference of philosophy: I am an Epicurean, and he is an asshole. 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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phạm Ngọc Hà

    Vào rừng trong hai năm hai tháng hai ngày, Thoreau có một khoảng cách thuận lợi để chiêm nghiệm cuộc sống trước đây - cái mà hầu hết mọi người đang sống, kể cả tới tận bây giờ. Từ đó ông có nhiều bàn luận phủ nhận giá trị của văn minh, tiền bạc, tài sản, đám đông, từ thiện, lòng yêu nước, nghề nghiệp, kiếm sống, ... Một chi tiết mà mình rất thích là khi Thoreau băn khoăn nên làm công việc gì. Ông có 2 lựa chọn: buôn bán và dạy học. Buôn bán thì dễ tha hóa con người và mất nhiều thời gian để thàn Vào rừng trong hai năm hai tháng hai ngày, Thoreau có một khoảng cách thuận lợi để chiêm nghiệm cuộc sống trước đây - cái mà hầu hết mọi người đang sống, kể cả tới tận bây giờ. Từ đó ông có nhiều bàn luận phủ nhận giá trị của văn minh, tiền bạc, tài sản, đám đông, từ thiện, lòng yêu nước, nghề nghiệp, kiếm sống, ... Một chi tiết mà mình rất thích là khi Thoreau băn khoăn nên làm công việc gì. Ông có 2 lựa chọn: buôn bán và dạy học. Buôn bán thì dễ tha hóa con người và mất nhiều thời gian để thành thạo, còn đi dạy thì phí tổn tăng vượt cả thu nhập vì ông phải ăn mặc theo quy định và mất quá nhiều thời gian soạn bài. Cuối cùng ông sống bằng cách là chỉ làm nông trong 6 tuần để toàn bộ thời gian còn lại được nghỉ ngơi và nghiên cứu. Bởi vì theo Thoreau thì sống không phải lao khổ mà là sự tiêu khiển. Chúng ta không cần phải cực nhọc kiếm sống để "một ngày nào đó" sống cuộc sống mình muốn, mà hãy ngay lập tức sống cuộc sống đó. Đời sống không khó khăn, chật vật như ta nghĩ nếu biết đơn giản nó lại. Thoreau phủ nhận rất nhiều thứ. Vậy ông tin gì? Ông tin vào vẻ đẹp của tự nhiên nhưng không ca ngợi, tôn sùng. Ông làm bạn với tự nhiên một cách bình tĩnh. Ông tin rằng con người cần phải được sống tự do, không lệ thuộc "đầm lầy và vũng cát lún" của đám đông và xã hội. Con người có thể chứa toàn bộ xã hội, đế chế, thành quách trong tâm trí của anh ta, và đến lượt mình, "một đợt thủy triều dâng lên hạ xuống đằng sau một con người có thể cuốn trôi đế quốc Anh như một mảnh vỏ bào". Con người chưa bao giờ lệ thuộc vào tổ chức. Ông tin rằng cao quý nhất chính là thế giới tư tưởng của con người, lương tri con người. Phải ra sức mà chăm sóc cho thế giới đó. Người biết làm bạn với tư tưởng của mình thì không bao giờ cô độc. Để chăm sóc cho tâm trí thì Thoreau tin rằng tốt nhất nên đọc - tiếp xúc với chiều sâu của ngôn ngữ viết chứ không phải ngôn ngữ nói - và phải đọc những tác phẩm lớn nhất, tốt nhất mà những thời đại đã qua có được. Ông tin rằng con người phải theo đuổi sự thật, sống thẳng thắn với chính mình, đừng che giấu bản thân như con sâu ẩn mình trong đám lá. Theo đuổi chính bản thân mình để tìm đến sự thật là mục đích lớn nhất của cuộc đời. Ông tin rằng chúng ta không có nghĩa vụ làm cho mọi người hiểu mình. Ông cũng tin rằng cần phải tránh các lối mòn và làm mới trải nghiệm của bản thân một cách liên tục. Đó là lý do ông ra khỏi rừng. ... Những điều Thoreau nói không mới ở thời điểm này. Nghĩa là chúng ta có thể nghe những điều trên mòn cả ra rồi ấy. Nhưng tác giả trình bày nhiệt tình và cực đoan, với một ngôn ngữ nghiêm nghị, đó là điều mình thích. Cuốn sách đến với mình quá đúng thời điểm, để mình tin vào sự cực đoan của bản thân và can đảm sống hơn.

  22. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    Walden has really slowed me down. I love how Thoreau makes me see things. It takes time to see, to hear, and to use the senses properly. Usually, I’m in too much of a hurry to really look, listen, smell and savor. When I able to now, I’m looking at the little things around me and thinking about a certain pond... While reading Walden you can expect to enter another realm. During my recent journey there I developed an appreciation of so much which I might otherwise have discounted as detail or back Walden has really slowed me down. I love how Thoreau makes me see things. It takes time to see, to hear, and to use the senses properly. Usually, I’m in too much of a hurry to really look, listen, smell and savor. When I able to now, I’m looking at the little things around me and thinking about a certain pond... While reading Walden you can expect to enter another realm. During my recent journey there I developed an appreciation of so much which I might otherwise have discounted as detail or background, except it isn’t. It’s the stuff of this beautiful world we live in ... but what is so easy to overlook in our single-minded rush to the next meeting, appointment or ‘have-to-do’. With these Walden-washed eyes and ears I’ve discovered a new joy in reading, in just being and in knowing how much does not depend on me. The author has shared a perspective on the variations of visitors, bird songs and the true value of solitude. Thoreau’s meditations draw me into memories of playing hooky on warm sunny days ... or maybe just dreams of doing so. He describes scenes, little furry creatures and the battlefields of ants, and in the next breath philosophizes about Time and Nature. His rules on culinary simplicity would send Julia Child into apoplexy! While the romantic side of my nature is drawn to his loaf of crusty bread and cold spring water, I don’t think I could long adhere to his monk-like menu of no coffee, tea, wine or meat. Thoreau can wander from one topic to another and back again, frequently seeming off track and irrelevant except that I suspect he might claim relevancy is overrated and not relevant itself. As such, chapter titles are misleading, topics overlapping and meandering, some portions being better than others. And yet—for me at least—even the chapters with uninteresting titles contain quiet little gems of delight. Reading Walden is often like a long visit with an old friend, old as in age and old as in known for a long time. Because this relationship is both deep and durable, you anticipate lengthy visits without fixed agendas, and yet the unpredictable quirkiness of the shared conversation is its greatest recommendation. Thoreau was the original naturalist, environmentalist and proponent of the motto, ‘Live simply so that others may simply live.’ He was a poet, philosopher, dreamer and observer of life. He was all these things but I think mostly he was someone who wanted to drink life to the very last drop—in the very best sense. I read and listened to most chapters of this book, returning to favorites even three times. Gord Mackenzie did a superb job reading this for LibriVox, making me feel as if Mr. Thoreau was addressing me in person. The wonder of Walden is that we can travel there any time by opening this book. No need for Trojan Horses (trains) or any of those other modern machines which would despoil the natural beauty of this sacred place.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amor Towles

    FIVE EXPANSIVE BOOKS SET IN CLOSE QUARTERS (#4) 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 c FIVE EXPANSIVE BOOKS SET IN CLOSE QUARTERS (#4) 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ||Swaroop||

    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 re 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."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    His whole 'back to nature' & simplistic look at life do have their appeal. I don't subscribe to transcendentalism, but did find his musings broken up by the seasons to be interesting. Like most philosophers, his view on life tends to ignore minor details (like reality) that don't fit into his worldview, but he does stay in the real world most of the time. Luckily, he had some money, good health & people he could borrow from. I don't particularly like the man, though. His comments on marr His whole 'back to nature' & simplistic look at life do have their appeal. I don't subscribe to transcendentalism, but did find his musings broken up by the seasons to be interesting. Like most philosophers, his view on life tends to ignore minor details (like reality) that don't fit into his worldview, but he does stay in the real world most of the time. Luckily, he had some money, good health & people he could borrow from. I don't particularly like the man, though. His comments on marriage being "a ball & chain" for the man were absolutely offensive. It's no wonder he never married or had kids. His self-centered nature wouldn't allow for such distractions. Even more offensive was the way he treated the axe he borrowed. I don't care much for tool borrowers anyway, having had too many people borrow mine over the years & then 'treat them as if they were their own'. That means they beat them up or never return them. That's exactly what Thoreau did, ruined a fine axe as if it was of no consequence. An axe in 1845 was a useful & fairly expensive tool. Generally, handles were handmade by the owner to their pattern. Often the axe head was handmade by the local smith. It required folding one piece of softer steel or iron to create the hole for the handle & then welding the ends back together. Then a higher quality piece of steel was forged on to the blade end. Different tempering was required for the two pieces. Thoreau used his borrowed axe to both build his cabin & grub roots out with. Usually only a very old axe was used for the latter since hitting rocks & dirt dulled it quickly & shortened its life. After breaking the handle, he BURNED the old handle out of the head, which ruined any temper it had. His ill-fitting replacement handle required him to soak it in water, which expands the wood to fit, but does so only briefly. Once dry, the fit is even looser since the expanding wood fibers are crushed by the iron head. Yuck! Anyway, this is why I was often distracted from his discourse on nature - I wanted to throttle him too often.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Igrowastreesgrow

    This book is not long at all but took me forever to get through. This may be a short book but was a long runoff of thoughts that I would have thought more appropriate for a private journal rather than a book for the public. It felt torturous at times to get through it. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been shorter with the points he was trying to get across being more concentrated. However, over all it had good thoughts and information. I'm glad I've read it but I do not think I will This book is not long at all but took me forever to get through. This may be a short book but was a long runoff of thoughts that I would have thought more appropriate for a private journal rather than a book for the public. It felt torturous at times to get through it. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been shorter with the points he was trying to get across being more concentrated. However, over all it had good thoughts and information. I'm glad I've read it but I do not think I will ever read it again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scarlet

    This was my first attempt at philosophy, and although there are lots of great ideas and some beautifully phrased passages here, the meandering structure of it impeded my enjoyment. I guess philosophical essays are not quite my thing. I'm still glad I read it though - my boyfriend loves this book and lent me his own much-read copy - so now I won't be totally lost when he refers to snippets from this book in our conversations! 3.5

  28. 5 out of 5

    Roula

    3.5 αστερια #transcendentalism 🙏🙏🙏

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mamdouh Abdullah

    ليس بمقدرونا أن نكتفي من الطبيعة قط. يجب أن ينعشنا مشهد يشي بقوة لا تنضب، معالم فسيحة جبارة، ساحل البحر بحطامه، برية بأشجار حية ومتعفنة، سحابة تبعث رعداً وبرقاً، أمطار تتواصل ثلاثة أسابيع ويجري الطوفان على أثرها. نحتاج إلى أن نشهد تخطي حدودنا، وحياة ترعى بحرية في مكان لا نجول فيه على الإطلاق. هنري ديفيد ثورو- والدن. ليس من الصعب، بل ومن المستحيل أن يتم ذكر اسم هنري ديفيد ثورو دون أن يأتي رفيق دربه معه: رالف والدو إيمرسون. الواحد ظل للآخر رغم تعدد اتجاهاتهم، وإن كانوا يتفقون في العموميات. ومن الصع ليس بمقدرونا أن نكتفي من الطبيعة قط. يجب أن ينعشنا مشهد يشي بقوة لا تنضب، معالم فسيحة جبارة، ساحل البحر بحطامه، برية بأشجار حية ومتعفنة، سحابة تبعث رعداً وبرقاً، أمطار تتواصل ثلاثة أسابيع ويجري الطوفان على أثرها. نحتاج إلى أن نشهد تخطي حدودنا، وحياة ترعى بحرية في مكان لا نجول فيه على الإطلاق. هنري ديفيد ثورو- والدن. ليس من الصعب، بل ومن المستحيل أن يتم ذكر اسم هنري ديفيد ثورو دون أن يأتي رفيق دربه معه: رالف والدو إيمرسون. الواحد ظل للآخر رغم تعدد اتجاهاتهم، وإن كانوا يتفقون في العموميات. ومن الصعب كذلك أن يذكر هؤلاء الاثنين دون أن تكون مدينة كونكورد حاضرة بقوة في المشهد. إلى هذه المدينة اتجه إيمرسون، ورافق صديقه ثورو. هذه المدينة هي المكان الأخطر والأكثر ثراء في منتصف القرن التاسع عشر. من هذه المدينة بدأت الحرب الأهلية الأمريكية في فناء خلفي لأحد المنازل، وانتهت في ذات المنزل في الفناء الأمامي. في هذه المدينة كان هناك جماعة من مفكرين ومثقفين وأدباء، لم تجمعهم فلسفة بقدر ما وجدوا أفضل تعبير لهم عن الفردية التي يقدسون ويحتفون بها. لم يصدروا بيان أو رؤية، بل أصروا على الفروقات الفردية لدى كل واحد وعلى احترام وجهات النظر الأحادية لدى كل فرد. بشروا بهذه الفلسفة وكتبوا في الصحف عن بعض ما يشغل مخيلاتهم: مثل تحرير العبيد والتمدد الأمريكي ليصل إلى الحرب الأمريكية المكسيكية. كان منهم من يرفع الصوت عالياً مثل إيمرسون، وكان منهم من يقوم بالتنفيذ، مثل ثورو الذي اشترك في جماعة سرية تقوم بتهريب العبيد إلى كندا. في أحد الأيام، خرج ثورو من عزلته في الغابة ليزور القرية. لم يعد إلى معتزله: ألقت الشرطة القبض عليه. جاء الفيلسوف الأمريكي رالف إيمرسون لزيارة صديقه الذي كان مسجوناً بسبب عدم دفعه من ضرائب للدولة. قال رالف لثورو: هنري.. ماذا تفعل في السجن؟ أجاب ثورو: والدو! ماذا تفعل أنت خارج السجن!. كان مقصد ثورو أنك يا إيمرسون يجب أن تكون معي الآن في السجن، أن تعصي أمر الدولة في دفعها لضريبة سوف تستخدم في الحرب الأمريكية المكسيكية، والتي من نتائجها المباشرة زيادة نار العبودية. لم يقم ثورو في السجن طويلاً. غادر بعد يوم واحد من سجنه مرغماً، لأن عمته قامت بسداد هذه الضريبة عنه. ولو لم تدفع قد نجده مستمراً في عصيانه المدني. سواءً كان هذا الحوار بين رالف وثورو صحيحاً أم غير صحيح، فهو يمثل فكرة هنري ثورو بتمامها، والتي تعرف لاحقاً بمقالة في العصيان المدني. حين جاء جيفرسون بمقولة أن أفضل حكومة هي من تحكم بأقل قدر ممكن، جاء ثورو يبشر في صدر مقالته بأن أفضل حكومة هي الحكومة التي لا تحكم على الاطلاق. المقدمة تبشر بفوضوية مخيفة، لرجل يرفع من شأن الفرد إلى درجة عالية، ويشن هجوماً على الأغلبية، مؤكداً بأنها لم تحكم إلا لأنها الأقوى ولا شيء آخر. لكنه يعود في منتصف مقالته ليقول بأنه لن يأتي اليوم الذي يكون في البلد دون حكومة، لكن تجب الإشارة إلا مجمل الأعمال التي تجعل من حكومة ما حكومة ظالمة يجب عصيانها. الحكومة التي كان يقصف بها مقالته كانت كما وصفها: حكومة العبيد: هذه الحكومة ليست حكومتي، لا يمكنني الاعتراف بذلك لحظة واحدة. من واجب المواطن أن يقاوم هذا الشر في الحكومة إلى حد عصيانها عمداً وعلناً. إذا تعهدت أمة بأن تكون أرض للحرية، وكان سدس سكانها عبيداً.. أعتقد أن الوقت ملائم للشرفاء من أبناء شعبها أن يتمردوا ويثوروا، يجب أن يكف هؤلاء الناس عن امتلاك العبيد وعن شن الحرب على المكسيك حتى لو كلفهم ذلك وجودهم كبشر. لم يكن ثورو أديباً، فهو في الشعر ظل للشاعر الإنجليزي وردزورث كما يقول هارولد بلوم. هو يحمل صور متعددة: منها ما هو الطبيعي، والفكري، والحقوقي، والمحتج. لكنه شكل رابطة مع إيمرسون ووالت وايتمان وآخرين، وكان من نتائجها أنهم مهدوا الطريق لنهضة أدبية ظهرت بأقصى عنفوان لها في أدبيات كل الجيل اللاحق، بمختلف صوره، من رواية وقصة وقصيدة ونثر وفكر ومسرح. حتى مقالة العصيان المدني التي لم تكن تحمل مقومات وجودها-رغم أن الأرضية كانت مناسبة تماماً لتنفيذها ولكن من سيجرؤ ويضحي! بعد سنوات طويلة، في إحدى القرى في جنوب أفريقيا يقرأها محامي هندي، ويقوم بنشرها مع تحريرها في عدة صحف، ويشعر بأن من كتب هذه المقالة شخصية مهمة تستحق البحث. وجد في هذه المقالة طاقة للروح، لا تدمر النفس بقدر ما تعلي من شأنها. ويبدو- أو الحقيقة أن هذا الهندي القابع في إحدى قرى جنوب أفريقيا قد طبقها تماماً في بلده، وكانت نتائجها واضحة للعيان. كان ذلك الشاب الهندي غاندي. فماذا وجد في ثورو؟ لم يكن ثورو مكتفياً أو غنياً. ولم يكن فقيراً فقراً كبيراً. كان من أسرة متواضعة لأب فرنسي وأم اسكتلندية. بعد تخرجه من هارفارد عمل في التدريس مع أخيه. وحين توفي أخية، اتجه للعمل في صناعة الاقلام مع أبيه. كان في طريقه لأن يكون ثروة كبيرة نظراً لإتقانه العمل وصناعته لجودة ذات قيمة عالية. إلا أنه توقف عن هذا العمل. رفض أن يقوم بهذا العمل مرة أخرى: لماذا يجب أن أصنع أقلاماً أخرى. ليست لدي الرغبة في إعادة صنع شيء كنت قد صنعته من قبل. اتجه إلى مجالات أخرى: وكل مجال كان يفتح له بوابة للطبيعة، وكأن نداءً خافتاً يجذبه إليها. كشاب يتمتع بصحة جيدة ومتخرج من الجامعة، ويتقن بعض الحرف الصناعية والتعليمية، يستطيع أن يكون ثروة ويبدأ حياته المدنية. لكنه لم يفعل. وكأن أقل القليل هو ما يطمح إليه. يقول صديقه رالف إيمرسون في مقالة طويلة عن ثورو: لم يتعثر قط ولم يفشل في أي مجال من مجالات العمل، لكنه يقدس عزلته, ويفضل أن تبقى حرة على الدوام. ظهر إلى الوجود كشخصية معترضة، محتجة على الدوام. بمقدرة فذة، يستطيع أن يعيش في أي ركن من هذا العالم. لم يتزوج، عاش حياته وحيداً. لم يذهب على الاطلاق إلى الكنيسة، يرفض دفع ضريبة للدولة، لا يأكل اللحم، لا يشرب الخمر، ولم يحمل البندقية أبداً. كان معبراً وممثلاً للحقيقة. إنها لبهجة أن تسير بالقرب منه. إنه يعرف الأرض كثعلب، أو كطائر. قد تكون قصائده ليست بتلك الجودة، لكنه يمتلك ذلك النوع من المصادر الشعرية في روحه. قد لا يبدو ثورو شخصية قلقة، فكرياً على الأقل. لكنه قلق من فكرة واحدة: لا يريد للكتب أو ما تعلمه في الجامعة أو النقاشات الفكرية أن ترسم طريقه. يريد أن يعيش الحياة بكل تفاصيلها الحية. التفاصيل الصغيرة والتفاصيل الكبيرة. إن كانت جميلة إلى هذا الحد، يجب أن تكشف جمالها كلها دون أي استثناء. وإذا كانت قبيحة يجب أن يتم التشهير بها. الحياة حسب تصوره لا تدرس، بل تعاش من البداية إلى النهاية. وإن كانت الحياة تدرس، فهي ستكون نتيجة لمجموعة من اختبارات الحياة. الفلسفة لديه لا تتعلق في إضمار أفكار بارعة ولا تأسيس مدرسة أو اتجاه: وإنما التعلق بحب الحكمة والحياة وفقاً لتعاليمها، حياة بسيطة تعتمد على الذات والشهامة والثقة، مهمة الفلسفة حل بعض مشكلات الحياة عملياً لا نظرياً. ولد ثورو في مدينة كونكورد في ولاية ماساتشوستس. غادر ثورو هذه المدينة للدراسة، وللعمل، ثم يعود إليها. ما إن يخرج منها حتى يعود إليها وكأنه يعانق حبيبه. السر يقبع في ذلك الجزء القريب من هذه المدينة: غابة والدن. من الممكن أن ثورو قد غادر إلى هذه الغابة لعدة أيام في شبابه. أو ربما أنه يجد فيها ملجأ يمنحه الاطمئنان والسكينة. في نهاية شهر مارس عام 1845، وبعد أن تأكد بأن أحداً لن يقدم له العمل في القضاء أو البلدية أو في أي مكان آخر، استعار ثورو فأساً ومضى إلى الغابة. هذه المرة ليعيش بها لوحده. أن يصنع كل شيء يساعده على الحياة دون أي تدخل من أحد. إذا كان البيت ضرورة للحياة سيصنع بيت، إذا كان الطعام أساسياً سيزرع ويحصد ما يعينه على البقاء في هذه الغابة: محاولة للابتعاد عن كل هموم الحياة الطبيعية والعودة لحالة أولية. وهناك رغبة سيخضعها للاختبار: قصدت الغابة، يقول ثورو: لأني رغبت في الحياة بترو وتعمد، رغبت ألا أجابه إلا حقائق الحياة الجوهرية، رغبت أن أتبين إن كان بإستطاعتي أن أتعلم ما لديها، وألا أكتشف حين أشرف على الموت أني لم أعش حياتي. لم أرغب في الآخذ بأسباب حياة ليست بالحياة، فالحياة عزيزة غالية، لم أرغب في الإذعان ما لم يكن ضرورياً ملحاً. أردت أن أعيش حياة هي لب الحياة كله، أعيش بثبات أبناء أسبارطة هازماً كل ما هو ليس بحياة، أجذب إليّ الانتباه وأنجو بأعجوبة، أدفع الحياة إلى ركن لأحولها إلى أبسط معانيها، ولو اتضح أنها وضيعة، فلننل وضاعتها الكاملة الحقيقية وننشرها أمام العالم. كتاب والدن الذي يحكي تفاصيل حياة هنري ثورو في غابة والدن لمدة سنتين ليس كتاباً أدبياً، رغم ضروب النثر والغناء التي يفجرها ثورو في كل صفحة من صفحاتها. وليس كتاباً في الاقتصاد أو تعلم الحياة رغم أن ربع الكتاب يحاول تفسير كيف استطاع أن يبني كوخ ويزرع قطعة أرض يأكل من حصادها بأقل التكاليف. وليس كتاب تأملات في الحياة، رغم استشهادات ثورو ببعض كتابات المتأملين. الكتاب خليط من هذه الأشكال الأدبية. ما سيقال أنه تطرف في ذكر التفاصيل هو في الحقيقة القيمة الكبرى لهذا الكتاب. نجد ثورو يخصص فصلاً كاملاً عن بناء الكوخ، بتفصيل شديد للغاية حول كل قطعة خشب، وكل أداة استعملها في بناءه للكوخ، وكأنها كناية واضحة لبناء النفس. وفصل عن الفاصوليا، وفصلاً آخر عن البحيرة ومقاساتها وعمقها، وفصل آخر عن الروائح والأصوات والثلح والربيع. ما يميز هذه الحياة في الغابة هي التفاصيل، ليس تأملاً ولكن مغامرة كبرى تدوم للحظة ثم تختفي، وتفتح صفحة جديدة لمغامرات أخر من مغامرات الحياة. وهذه التفاصيل المعيشية في الغابة يضعها في مقابل التفاصيل المعيشية في الحياة المدنية. الموهبة الشعرية قد تتطور وتكون ظاهرة لو شيد الإنسان منزله بيديه ووفر الطعام لنفسه وأسرته بما يكفي من بساطة وأمانة كما يقول. طورت الحضارة المنازل والتصاميم، لكننها لم تتطور بالقدر نفسه من يعيشون في هذه المنازل: أصبح البشر أدوات لأدواتهم. وحين يتعرض لأقوال مثل: كائن معزول أو منعزل أو رفيق العزلة، يقيس هذه العزلة على مستوى الكون إذ أن هذه الأرض بأكملها ماهي إلا نقطة في الفضاء. وحياة الجسد العامرة بالتفاصيل والحركة تجعل العقل في حالة تحرك وانشغال وكأنه متصل بالجميع، حتى مع الذي يتهمونه بالعزلة: ولكن من هو الذي يعيش حياة العزلة: من يجد العزلة كحالة من حالات الصحبة، أم من يعيش مع الناس ويشعر بالعزلة؟ من ينظر إليه من بعيد سوف يعتقد فعلاً أنه شخصية غريبة جداً، ممتلئة بالملل وهو وحيد هناك. لكنه ملئ حياته بطريقة غريبة للغاية، أو أنه كان مهيئاً فعلاً لهذه الحياة لعشقه للطبيعة والحياة فيها. لو كان عالماً مختصاً بالعلوم الطبيعة، لن استغرب أن ينشر بحثاً مطولاً عن العواطف عن الحيوانات. وعلى أرض الواقع، لا يحتاج لأن يكتب مثل هذا البحث لأن كتابه هذا هو بحث في العواطف وتعبيراتها عند الحيوانات، ولن أبالغ إذا قلت أنه يقف مع بحث تشارلز داروين في كتابه التعبير عن العواطف عند الإنسان والحيوانات، وإن كان داروين له ميزة أنه يطرح السؤال: لماذا هذا التعبير، بينما ثورو يعيش مع هذا التعبير، يؤثر فيه ويتحدث عنه بإسهاب وكأنه اكتشف شيئاً جديداً. واحدة من أعماق التعابير الخاصة بعواطف الحيوانات هي تلك الخاصة بمعركة النمل. مجموعة من النمال الحمراء والسوداء تتقاتل بعنف وضراوة. صورها ثورو وكأنها ملحمة طروادة أخرى، لكنه ينغمس في المعركة حتى يفصل بعض أشكال هذه الكائنات بعد هذه الحرب وحالاتها الجسدية والنفسية بصورة مثيرة للإعجاب. للتأمل جمالية، لكن ما قيمتها إن لم تعش تلك الجمالية وتشاهدها عياناً أو تكون بالقرب منها؟ ثورو يكتب الشعر، وقرأ الألياذة بلغتها الأصلية حتى يتذوق قيمة الشعر كما يقول، لكنه لم يذهب للغابة حتى يتأمل ويقرض الشعر. ومعايشة الجمالية ليست دائمة، إذ أن الانغماس فيها ومحاولة أن تكون ثابتة يفقدها من جماليتها. فها هو بعد أن عاش سنتين في الغابة، لم يتطرف ويبقى فيها لطوال حياته. غادرها مثلما قدم إليها أول مرة، لكنه غادر وهو ممتلئ بالذكريات والروائح وصدى الفجر وقدوم الربيع وسكون الشتاء. إن كنت سأحتفظ بشيء من والدن في ذاكرتي، فهو الصوت، وساعات الفجر الأولى، أو الساعة المقدسة التي لا تفوقها أي ساعة من ساعات الزمن الأربع والعشرين, وصوت الطبيعة من أشجار وعصافير وبحيرة والدن. حين تصبح البحيرة ساكنة، والأشجار القائمة بشواطئها- والتي هي رموش نحيلة تهدبها كما يقول ثورو-، هادئة لا تدفعها الريح، يكفي أن يضرب المتمرد المدني عصى قاربه حتى يحدث اهتزاز يسري على كل ظواهر الطبيعة، محدثة انفعالات وأصوات لا متناسقة، تمثل الحياة بكل صخبها. لكن هذا الصوت، لا يرقى إلى الصوت العظيم، حين تغطي الثلوج البحيرة، وحين يحين موعد تشقق تلك الثلوج: ضربة واحدة وينطلق صوت أشبه بالرعد يسري على جسد هو جسد الطبيعة. هل ثورو شاعر؟ بالطبع هو شاعر، رغم أن قصائده ليست بذلك التميز. من يستطيع أن ينقل إليّ كقارئ مثل هذا الصوت: صوت الجليد حين يتكسر ويحل الربيع، فهو أفضل من الشاعر الحقيقي نفسه حين يتغنى بالربيع. من الكتب المتوفرة لثورو في المكتبة العربية: ترجمة أمين مرسي قنديل لكتاب والدن، وهي ترجمة قديمة لم يعد لها وجود. صدرت قبل أيام ترجمة جديدة لوالدن من قبل هالة صلاح الدين، من دار نشر العين المصرية. من يريد قراءة ثورو بلغته الأصلية: هناك عدة نسخ لوالدن. نسخة قصيرة من دار نشر بنجوين من سلسلة أفكار عظيمة، وهي نسخة مختصرة من النص الأصلي، دون تعمق بذكر التفاصيل التي تميز بها والدن. أما النسخ الأخرى فتتميز حسب الإضافات. هناك كتب منشورة لوالدن فقط، أما النسخة الأفضل حسب ما أرى هي هذه النسخ: والدن، العصيان المدني وكتابات أخرى. Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings يضم هذا الكتاب إضافة لوالدن والعصيان المدني مجموعة من مقالات ثورو الخاصة بوالدن، ومقالات ثورو الخاصة الرحلات، ومجموعة متميزة من المراجعات النقدية من بعض القراء والأدباء عن ثورو. للناقد الأمريكي البروفسور هارولد بلوم سلسلة نقدية أدبية أشرف على تحريرها. من هذه السلسلة كتابين عن ثورو. الأول ثورو من خلال أصدقاءه ونقاد عصره. ويضم مقالة لرالف والدو إيمرسون عن ثورو، وهي من أهم المقالات التي قرأت عن ثورو. ولو كان لي من الأمر شيئاً لجعلت قراءة مقالة إيمرسون في المرتبة الأولى للدخول لعالم هنري ديفيد ثورو. والكتاب الثاني مقالات نقدية عن مؤلفات ثورو وشخصيته وفكره. http://wp.me/p28q6M-dW

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Oh dear god, this man is both boring and infuriating (is that even possible?). Perhaps he should have heeded his own advice, to "suck out all the marrow of" his book and "reduce it to its lowest terms." But no, he instead drags on and on about the most inane details, throwing in obscure literary allusions left and right. Now, let me ask, if the book is addressed to "poor students," what are the chances that they will understand any of these references? Which leads to the question, then why does Oh dear god, this man is both boring and infuriating (is that even possible?). Perhaps he should have heeded his own advice, to "suck out all the marrow of" his book and "reduce it to its lowest terms." But no, he instead drags on and on about the most inane details, throwing in obscure literary allusions left and right. Now, let me ask, if the book is addressed to "poor students," what are the chances that they will understand any of these references? Which leads to the question, then why does Thoreau use them? To show that he is intelligent, of course, which leads me to my next point - that he is infuriating. He is infuriating in his preachiness and pretentiousness. He makes sweeping judgments about the millennia of man's existence, and I can't help but wonder why we should listen to him. If he has "never met a man who was quite awake" (even though I'm sure his good friend Emerson was just as intellectually able as our little genius here), then how are we to believe that he just so happens to be the one exception? This is why I also don't like the film Into the Wild, which has a similar theme. Books/films like these are horribly preachy and pretentious. They try to make you feel bad about your way of life, even though they have no authority to do so, and they then somehow refute their point. For instance, the nature boy in Into the Wild dies from eating poisonous berries, while Thoreau conducted his experiment for only 2 years (not enough to preach that it is a way of life) and then got bucketloads of money from book sales. And I find it funny that the very people who view this book as their bible are kind of missing the point of the book. Thoreau says somewhere in there that he wouldn't want anyone to live like himself, but then again ... why did he write this book ... who knows. And another thing - following another's words so religiously has got to be indicative of the herd instinct, which Thoreau advocates against. And yet another thing - he says that a scrap of newspaper serves the same purpose as [insert great literary author here]. Since in this day and age, we could very well put his name there, why don't we follow his own advice and throw Walden away? P.S. I typed this whole thing on my phone. Thoreau is turning over in his grave...

  31. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    This book was a struggle to read. Like a chick struggling to hatch and be free of his confining egg, I struggled to get to the end of this book, it was a miserable experience. This book is as useless to me as the chick's empty shell is to him. Thankfully this reading struggle for me is over, and I too am now free. The writing was verbose and dictatorial. That is not to say that while reading there were not moments of solid reading enjoyment. However, for the benefit of several paragraphs of grea This book was a struggle to read. Like a chick struggling to hatch and be free of his confining egg, I struggled to get to the end of this book, it was a miserable experience. This book is as useless to me as the chick's empty shell is to him. Thankfully this reading struggle for me is over, and I too am now free. The writing was verbose and dictatorial. That is not to say that while reading there were not moments of solid reading enjoyment. However, for the benefit of several paragraphs of greatness, this book is just not worth the time it takes to read .

  32. 5 out of 5

    Manu

    «Walden» puede ser sintetizado como la búsqueda del hombre de su "yo verdadero". Thoreau parte de la premisa (como tantos) de que en nosotros anida algo esencial, una vida esencial que espera ser vivida. La respuesta al cómo, cómo esa vida debe ser vivida, Thoreau la encuentra en el contacto con la naturaleza y la supresión de toda superficialidad en la vida diaria, una clase de ascetismo. Comprendiendo el mensaje del libro, se puede comprender también su carácter de clásico. Thoreau no cuenta s «Walden» puede ser sintetizado como la búsqueda del hombre de su "yo verdadero". Thoreau parte de la premisa (como tantos) de que en nosotros anida algo esencial, una vida esencial que espera ser vivida. La respuesta al cómo, cómo esa vida debe ser vivida, Thoreau la encuentra en el contacto con la naturaleza y la supresión de toda superficialidad en la vida diaria, una clase de ascetismo. Comprendiendo el mensaje del libro, se puede comprender también su carácter de clásico. Thoreau no cuenta simplemente su vida en los bosques sino que la utiliza de ejemplo para algo más elevado. Thoreau, también, es hijo de su tiempo y como tal no deja de lanzar invectivas contra la sociedad de la que por un tiempo se alejó. Cálmate, ¿querés? Aún así, muchas de las críticas podrían ser válidas en nuestros días, y no me sorprende. Han cambiado las formas, el aspecto externo de las cosas, no las cosas en sí. No creo que nunca lo hagan. En cuanto a la estructura, en «Walden» se distinguen tres partes, de las cuales el lector podría prescindir de una, la del medio, sin que se modifique en demasía la experiencia literaria total. ¿Por qué? Porque por 100 páginas o menos, Thoreau se dedica a describirnos los aspectos superficiales de la vida en los bosques y sin mucho talento literario menciona 500 nombres de peces, aves, árboles, insectos, también fenómenos climáticos y cómo midió la laguna (si, tenía muchas teorías estúpidas al respecto, ni idea). En fin: Who cares, David? Las partes son distinguibles así que no voy a profundizar en el tema. El lector lo va a sentir en su ritmo de lectura. Asumo de lo leído que la "persona Thoreau" debió de ser un poco intensa. Un poco rezongón era Henry David. ¿Qué se le va a hacer?

  33. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    I rarely read books twice, but I already feel the need to come sit by the shores of this book again and again. Expansive and infinitely quotable, Walden is one of those books that shakes not just the ground you are standing on, but seems to shake the Sun as well. Certainly there are parts of this book that are unrealistic, a little bit crankish, and even a little too self-aware. However, it is also beautiful, magnificent, and compelling in Thoreau's desire to see man seek the greater, more compe I rarely read books twice, but I already feel the need to come sit by the shores of this book again and again. Expansive and infinitely quotable, Walden is one of those books that shakes not just the ground you are standing on, but seems to shake the Sun as well. Certainly there are parts of this book that are unrealistic, a little bit crankish, and even a little too self-aware. However, it is also beautiful, magnificent, and compelling in Thoreau's desire to see man seek the greater, more compelling wilderness within.

  34. 4 out of 5

    Ayush

    This book brought forth some memories of the time when I last visited my little hometown and there is one such incident that happened then which sums up this book nicely I had started my first day of the summer vacations with one of tastiest orange juice I had ever had. The secret was obviously in the oranges. My mother told me about this woman who although from an extremely meagre background, had dared to break free from the chain of middlemen to produce her own oranges by maintaining a small g This book brought forth some memories of the time when I last visited my little hometown and there is one such incident that happened then which sums up this book nicely I had started my first day of the summer vacations with one of tastiest orange juice I had ever had. The secret was obviously in the oranges. My mother told me about this woman who although from an extremely meagre background, had dared to break free from the chain of middlemen to produce her own oranges by maintaining a small grove in the nearby village. A few days later, I visited the fruit mandi (mandi= local mini-market)and managed to casually ask this woman's young daughter about the secret of her mother's delicious oranges. With a carefree smile of utmost joy, she eagerly told me about her mother's fondness for growing fruits, her love for the process, from leveling to sowing to proper irrigation, the way she sings to them, her need to keep a close tab of each one of their health and moods, as if they were her own little children . Now, I believe that something of that care and love is transmitted into the orange. The result is an explosion of flavor, a shiver of rich pleasure down the spine as soon as that fiery orange hits your tongue. This woman, as if espousing the message of Walden, is not working on a cure for cancer nor is she busy developing the next breakthrough technology that will change the world. Forget that, hardly a few souls in this world know about her. But, she does what she does. However humble her vocation may be, she honors those moments with a mindful effort of utmost passion and unfettered love, all the while making our world a better place, one orange at a time .

  35. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Dubois

    I just finished Walden. The first chapters filled me with enthousiasm, as you can read in the early reflections on this book that are already posted in my comments below. Then, I confess, the purely descriptive chapters about nature, from the middle of the book to the penultimate chapter, bored me to so much that I forced myself to read this book until the end. It's not that I don’t like descriptions, quite the opposite. But for me, they must be either poetic, or bring the author to a reflection, I just finished Walden. The first chapters filled me with enthousiasm, as you can read in the early reflections on this book that are already posted in my comments below. Then, I confess, the purely descriptive chapters about nature, from the middle of the book to the penultimate chapter, bored me to so much that I forced myself to read this book until the end. It's not that I don’t like descriptions, quite the opposite. But for me, they must be either poetic, or bring the author to a reflection, or interact with the feelings of the author, or move the reader. In Walden, it seems to me, the descriptions are purely from the domain of biology, which is far from being my centre of interest. In the chapter The Ponds, I thought I was dying of boredom! "There have been caught in Walden pickerel ..." Then follow lines and lines describing this fish to lead to: "The specific name reticulatus would not apply to this; it should be guttatus rather. " What to say? When ichthyology (Greek terms: ἰχθύς, ikhthus, "fish" and λόγος, logos, "speeches" ... Yes, I learned some Greek at school, but that's Wikipedia!) So, when ichthyology is not your passion, the chapter "The Ponds" is as long as a fishing day without fish ... and without a book! Then, the chapter "Higher laws" promised to raise my thought a bit. But I found Thoreau’s lack of pleasure which I had already noted in my first comments below. I was especially questioned by the passage about the food. Thoreau doesn’t seem to become partly vegetarian by taste, but by reluctance of the work it is to empty and clean a fish. "Having been my own butcher and scullion and cook, as well as the gentleman for whom the dishes were served up, I can speak from an unusually complete experience. The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness." Thoreau admits to having no pleasure: "I had rarely for many years used animal food, or tea, or coffee, etc.; not so much because of any ill effects which I had traced to them, as because they were not agreeable to my imagination." And this is so contrary to the French romantic poets who were able to combine pleasure, work, poetry and high thoughts: Théophile Gautier, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Balzac, Flaubert or George Sand, all of them had, without necessarily being greedy, had pleasure to eat or drink. And this reflection of Thoreau without pleasure on the fact of being vegetarian reminded me of another great French vegetarian: Arsene Houssaye (1814-1896), director of the French Theater (La Comédie Française) and friend of the aforementioned authors. This is how he writes about what he eats: "I advocate Champagne wine, and I still firmly believe in the visible or occult forces of vegetable life. The gold of the wheat, the gold of the bunch, the gold of the olive oil, the gold of the butter worked by the robust hands of the farmer’s wife, all these golds are turn into red blood by the miracles of the stomach. Into red blood also, are transformed green colors. The luxuriance of the fruit-wall, the apricot, the plum and the peach, the pears on the branch; cherries, strawberries, and raspberries, which laugh in the path with their ardent lips, also have their living forces. Now, since the lazy and greedy cow takes the trouble to graze for us, let us drink her milk with fervor: it is the white life that will flow red in our veins. " Isn’t this an obvious pleasure of vegetarian, there? No deprivation, but joy, poetry, colors! But Thoreau has nevertheless such beautiful and high thoughts: "The universe is wider than our views of it. " Is not our own interior white on the chart? black but it can prove, like the coast, when discovered ... explore your own higher latitudes ... Nay, be a Columbus to a whole new continent and worlds of you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. " Thoreau is right when he writes: "I learned this, at least, by my experience: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life that he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. " And he fills me with enthusiasm here: "In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. " Therefore, in spite of long, too long passages which maybe some readers will find poetic, but which personally left me as indifferent as when I was in maths or biology class! Despite that, please read Walden, it’s worth it! And when, like Thoreau did, a writer putt his thought into practice by living two years in a cabin, it’s no big deal to spend hours reading him, it’s not a waste of time, far from it! Because I didn’t tell you everything about Walden! That is why I give 5 stars to Walden, so that other readers plunge, not into the pond, but into Walden, a most unusual book. And the usual French version : Je viens de finir Walden. Les premiers chapitres m’ont enthousiasmée, comme vous pouvez le lire dans les premières réflexions sur ce livre qui sont déjà postées dans mes commentaires ci-dessous. Puis, je l’avoue, les chapitres purement descriptifs de la nature, du milieu du livre jusqu’à l’avant-dernier chapitre m’ont ennuyée au point que je me suis forcée à lire jusqu’au bout ce livre. Ce n’est pas que je n’aime pas les descriptions, bien au contraire. Mais, pour moi, elles doivent être soit poétiques, soit amener l’auteur à une réflexion, ou interagir avec les sentiments de l’auteur. Dans Walden, à ce qu’il m’a semblé, les descriptions sur purement du domaine de la biologie, ce qui est loin d’être mon centre d’intérêt. Dans le chapitre sur l’étang, j’ai bien cru mourir d’ennui ! « There have been caught in Walden pickerel… » s’en suivent des lignes et des lignes décrivant ce poisson pour aboutir à : « The specific name reticulatus would not apply to this; it should be guttatus rather. » Que dire ? Quand l’ichtyologie (des termes grecs: ἰχθύς, ikhthus, « poisson » ; et λόγος, logos, « discours »… Oui, j’ai appris un peu de grec à l’école, mais là, c’est Wikipédia !), donc, quand l’ichtyologie n’est pas votre passion, le chapitre « The Ponds » est aussi long qu’une journée de pêche sans poisson… et sans livre ! Puis, le chapitre « Higher laws » promettait d’élever un peu ma pensée. Mais j’y ai retrouvé le manque de plaisir de Thoreau que j’avais déjà noté dans mes premiers commentaires ci-dessous. J’ai surtout été interpelée par le passage sur la nourriture. Thoreau ne semble pas devenir en partie végétarien par goût, mais par dégoût du travail que représente de vider et nettoyer un poisson. « Having been my own butcher and scullion and cook, as well as the gentleman for whom the dishes were served up, I can speak from an unusually complete experience. The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness. » Thoreau avoue n’avoir pas de plaisir : « I had rarely for many years used animal food, or tea, or coffee, etc.; not so much because of any ill effects which I had traced to them, as because they were not agreeable to my imagination. » Et cela est si à l’opposé des poètes romantiques français qui ont su allier plaisir, travail, poésie et pensées élevées : Théophile Gautier, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Balzac, Flaubert ou George Sand, avaient tous, sans être forcément des gloutons, du plaisir à manger ou boire. Et cette réflexion de Thoreau sans plaisir sur le fait d’être végétarien m’a rappelé un autre grand végétarien français : Arsène Houssaye (1814-1896), directeur du Théâtre Français (La Comédie Française) et ami des auteurs précédemment cités. Voici comment il écrit sur ce qu’il mange : « Je prône le vin de Champagne, et je crois encore fermement aux forces visibles ou occultes de la vie végétale. L’or du blé, l’or de la grappe, l’or de l’huile d’olive et de l’huile d’œillette, l’or du beurre travaillé par les mains robustes de la fermière, tous ces ors se transforment en sang rouge par les miracles de l’estomac. En sang rouge aussi se transforment les couleurs vertes. Les luxuriances de l’espalier, l’abricot, la reine-claude et la pêche, les poires sur la branche ; la cerise, la fraise et la framboise qui rient dans le sentier par toutes leurs lèvres ardentes, ont aussi leurs forces vives. Maintenant, puisque la vache paresseuse et gourmande se donne la peine de paître pour nous, buvons son lait avec ferveur : c’est la vie blanche qui va couler rouge dans nos veines. » N’a-t-on pas là un plaisir évident du végétarien ? Pas de privation, mais de la joie, de la poésie, de la couleur ! Mais Thoreau a quand même de si belles et hautes pensées : « The universe is wider than our views of it. » Is not our own interior white on the chart? black though it may prove, like the coast, when discovered… explore your own higher latitudes… Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. » Thoreau est dans le vrai quand il écrit : « 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. » Et il m’enthousiasme aussi ici : « In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. » Donc, malgré des passages longs, trop longs qui peuvent sembler de la poésie pour certains mais qui personnellement m’ont laissé aussi indifférente que quand j’étais en cours de maths ou de biologie ! Malgré cela donc, lisez Walden, il en vaut la peine. Et quand un écrivain va, comme Thoreau, mettre en pratique sa pensée en vivant deux ans dans une cabane, on peut bien passer quelques heures à lire son lire, on n’aura pas perdu son temps. C’est pourquoi je donne 5 étoiles à Walden, pour que d’autres se laissent tenter par ce livre unique en son genre.

  36. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Yes, Thoreau had such pointed and poignant rhetoric at twenty-seven years old: 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 practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdi Yes, Thoreau had such pointed and poignant rhetoric at twenty-seven years old: 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 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 swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. A man living life by “a thousand simple tests.” This is one of those books I found hard to rate because it is an autobiographical account so scientific in its analysis that at times it drags; so direct in its supposition that like a lecture, it loses you intermittently. But when it reaches these multi-layered phases when the narration goes to the type of close first-person view that you almost hear him breath through the pages, this is when things get really interesting: It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. It took him five years of drafts to get to words as intimate as these because after publishing A Week, which sold terribly, publishers wanted to see more. When I found myself reaching for a three-star rating even after saying this phrase aloud for days, "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts," I thought, umm, any book whose words stick with you like this does, surely deserves more than that rating. "Suck out all the marrow of life." 'Put to rout all that was not life." "To drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms." Wow. Like Emerson's works, this classic represents one of the voices of the American Transcendentalist Movement. And yet it seems to stand for much more.

  37. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Chough

    Thoreau's observations are incredibly relevant today. He was an environmentalist, but not because he was so worried about the planet -- but rather because it made sense to him. We just don't need so much stuff. It's a waste of our time, energy and spirit. He went to the woods to prove this and to prove himself. What would Henry say to us now in this age of disposable cell phones and multiple mortgages hanging over our heads? Walden is just good writing. It's insightful and witty. It's even quirky Thoreau's observations are incredibly relevant today. He was an environmentalist, but not because he was so worried about the planet -- but rather because it made sense to him. We just don't need so much stuff. It's a waste of our time, energy and spirit. He went to the woods to prove this and to prove himself. What would Henry say to us now in this age of disposable cell phones and multiple mortgages hanging over our heads? Walden is just good writing. It's insightful and witty. It's even quirky, but Thoreau hits the nail on the head so many times in his observations about nature, and more importantly, about man. Thoreau is... The scholarly forest ranger The anarchist hoeing his beans The whittling poet philosopher The original hippie The loner that could have been a statesman The botanist abolitionist I highly recommended this classic.

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kelly ...

    Meh. Drudgery. I forced myself to give this one a real shot and read 3/4 or more of it, but I just couldn't continue on. It was boring. Dull. Drudgery. I have never read anything else by Thoreau and this one left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It would take a lot of convincing for me to read another of his tales.

  39. 4 out of 5

    Tayebe

    The book was exactly what I expected it to be. The way Thoreau defined poverty and the way he justified his life in a little wooden house were phenomenal. The most interesting part was the Conclusion. when I finished the Conclusion part I was in shock! I just wanted to forsake living in a civilized city and go to the woods and live a life in accordance to my ideals. But Alas! I don't t have the guts to do so or maybe I think I don't know how to live a life all by myself. How can anyone think like The book was exactly what I expected it to be. The way Thoreau defined poverty and the way he justified his life in a little wooden house were phenomenal. The most interesting part was the Conclusion. when I finished the Conclusion part I was in shock! I just wanted to forsake living in a civilized city and go to the woods and live a life in accordance to my ideals. But Alas! I don't t have the guts to do so or maybe I think I don't know how to live a life all by myself. How can anyone think like that and live like that and at the same time JUSTIFIE you that hey the way you're living is not proper. You can create your ideal life by living in poverty. The Contrast!! I should confess that some parts were really boring and I was like" should I skip this part or not"!? (thought I did not skip them!) Speechles as I am ,I want to share a wonderful quote with you( I should mention that the book is full of ethical and inspirational and mind-blowing quotes.If you don't want to read the book then please read the quotes and you'll definitely fall in love with the way Thoreau describes things). So yeah,that's it. "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. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life ,poor as it is.You may perhaps have some pleasant,thrilling,glorious hours even in a poor-house."

  40. 5 out of 5

    natalie

    Oh, how I wish you could give books zero stars. I won't sugarcoat it - I hated this book. I hated hated hated hATED IT. Seriously, love yourself. Don't read this book. I would just end it there and make this short and sweet, but I figure I should actually include some substance to back up my angry rant there. So, here's the deal. I'm sure you've heard about Thoreau before, whether from history or English. And if you haven't, congratulations. Seriously. Basically, Thoreau decided in the mid 1850s, Oh, how I wish you could give books zero stars. I won't sugarcoat it - I hated this book. I hated hated hated hATED IT. Seriously, love yourself. Don't read this book. I would just end it there and make this short and sweet, but I figure I should actually include some substance to back up my angry rant there. So, here's the deal. I'm sure you've heard about Thoreau before, whether from history or English. And if you haven't, congratulations. Seriously. Basically, Thoreau decided in the mid 1850s, to take a break from society and go live in the woods for a while. This probably had a lot to do with his transcendentalist views, which was a popular movement happening around this time. It centered around the majesty of nature and isolating yourself from the problematic aspects of society. In an attempt to do this, Thoreau built himself a little house in the middle of the woods and chronicled everything he did. Literally everything. I hope you enjoy very boring, very pointless descriptions of everything everywhere, because Thoreau does not shut up. It also doesn't help that he seems like one of those people who would love the sound of his own voice, because he says a lot and essentially pushes his views onto the reader. And we have arrived at the true reason that this book is famous - the points that Thoreau makes within the pages. And I won't argue that he can certainly prove a point and is very good with literary devices. Thoreau has a strong mastery over the English language, and that is clear within the novel, no matter how boring it may be. Thoreau knows what he believes, and Walden is essentially just a bona-fide, extra-boring persuasive essay. Some of his points are actually fairly valid, but I found a lot of his writing to be very presumptuous and annoying to read. Personally, the way that Thoreau writes just makes it seem as though he is looking down on you, and that drives me insane. So basically - don't read this! This has been a PSA.

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label Essay #50: Walden (1854), by Henry David Thoreau The story in a nutshell: Although not published until 1854, Henry David Thoreau's Walden is a chronicle of events that (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label Essay #50: Walden (1854), by Henry David Thoreau The story in a nutshell: Although not published until 1854, Henry David Thoreau's Walden is a chronicle of events that happened to this young radical liberal a decade previous -- when, inspired by his new buddies the Transcendentalists, and growing increasingly sick and tired of the conspicuous consumption on display among his middle-class neighbors in Concord, Massachusetts, Thoreau decided to try an experiment, and see just how simply he could actually live his life and still count it a happy one. And the answer, as we see in this 300-page collection of thoughts and observations, is pretty simple indeed; turns out that Thoreau took great delight living in a tar-papered shack in a woodland area on the edge of town, and for the most part found an evening on his porch reading a book and being one with nature to be just as satisfying as the elaborate parlor games of the Victorian townfolk, played inside their elaborate parlors which cost thousands more dollars to construct and maintain. In fact, that's mostly what this book is, detailed yet simple observations about the day-to-day life he experienced during his two years in the woods (truncated to one year in the book for metaphorical purposes), along with lessons for how you can live a more simplified life too, as well as a fair amount of youthful indignation over more people not doing so. The argument for it being a classic: The main argument for this being a classic seems to be the profound amount of influence it's had in the 150 years since its publication; it almost singlehandedly kickstarted the social movement known as environmentalism and the scientific practice known as ecology, is what many claim to be the clearest explanation of Transcendentalism ever written, and (fans claim) lays the groundwork for the political theory now known as anarchy, with no less than Emma Goldman calling Thoreau "the best radical in American history." (And of course, let's not forget that Thoreau also literally invented the concept of modern civil disobedience -- you know, in his essay "Civil Disobedience," used as a virtual field guide by such future social reformers as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.) Now add the fact that, for many people, the reading of this book is a deeply moving personal experience, an emotional appeal for simplicity, empathy and decency that can profoundly connect with certain readers when read at certain moments in their life (but see below for more on this); and then add the very modern argument that Thoreau is the quintessential proto-blogger here in Walden as well, creating the rules that have practically defined public journaling ever since -- often frustrating, frequently self-righteous, yet a funny and charming deep observer of the minutia governing our daily lives, explaining by analysis why we should be paying more attention in the first place. The argument against: The main argument against Walden being a classic can be fairly easily summed up with the following question: "Just who does that judgmental little freaking hippie think he is, anyway?!" And let's face it, even his fans easily admit that Thoreau was awfully opinionated, in this snotty and smug way that unfortunately has become a lasting trademark of political radicals on both the left and right; now combine this, his critics say, with the overwrought prose style so indicative of the Victorian Age, and especially Victorian writers in America, a country that much more passionately embraced the flowery, sickeningly sweet "Genteel" style of writing that fell out of style much sooner over in Europe. (And for an extra special treat, see this hilarious reader review at Goodreads.com on the subject of "Thoreauvian Douchebags" -- the young, sexy, crypto-hippie male undergraduates you always see reading Walden and playing hackysack on college quadrangles, that is, who claim to be all sensitive and progressive but secretly are really as misogynistic as Archie Bunker.) It may be historically important, its detractors claim, but Lord, the book ain't good, a rambling screed that has inspired countless waves of loafing, unwashed drains on society by now, a book to be ridiculed rather than celebrated. My verdict: So here today at the official halfway point of the CCLaP 100 essay series (only two and a half more years to go! ...sigh), it seems only appropriate that the book under review be a special case, an opportunity to examine a minor but important aspect about the "classics" that I often don't get to discuss here -- that much like Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, my opinion of Walden turns out to have profoundly changed over the years, which highlights the fact that what we think of any particular book is influenced not only by what stage in history we read it but even what stage in life. Because when I was a punk-loving teen back in the '80s, I have to admit that my friends and I used to mercilessly make fun of this book -- and yes, partly that was to deliberately get the goat of our American Lit teacher*, a former '60s hippie who was horrified to hear of a generation of youth who didn't breathlessly love this title, but partly it was because I simply found it an unreadable bore back then, back when I was sick to death of living in a rural environment myself, and couldn't wait to move to a big city and lead a life of steel and concrete, of urbane coffeehouses and sleek skyscrapers. But now here in my forties, after living in the sometimes very ugly Chicago for around 15 years, I found myself suddenly responding a lot more positively to what Thoreau has to say, reading it for the first time since high school and the first time ever from beginning to end; but far from it being his simple environmental message, I found myself instead nodding my head a lot more to his struggle to find a life for himself that's as stripped as possible of the middle-class consumerism going on around him, a simplified and self-sustaining life that doesn't ever outright shun the modern conveniences of the Industrial Age, but simply seeks to find a balance within this suddenly exploding world of cheap consumer goods. In fact, I find it sadly curious how many of his critics accuse Thoreau of "cheating" in Walden, because of details like his shack being only two miles from town, him doing his laundry using the modern facilities of his family's city home, and often spending the night in the house of neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson (actual owner of the woods where Walden Pond was located) on the coldest nights of winter, which seems to me to miss Thoreau's entire point; in fact, not once in this book does he advocate completely giving up on mechanized civilization, instead simply arguing that most of us can easily do without the rooms full of discretionary-income doodads we've collected over the years, which of course is the whole reason he left the woods after two years to begin with, a point he apparently makes even more explicit in later books, when he traverses much more literal wild area of nature and generally finds them unsuitable for daily living. I find myself really responding positively to all these things, here during my middle-aged reading of Walden, in a way that I was simply incapable of when I was younger -- because of being less experienced, because of having a less sophisticated understanding of the world, because of having to overcome at the time the fawning love of the book by the intolerable flower children of my parents' generation. And that's why it can be instructive sometimes to revisit certain books over and over at different stations in life, because you never know when you might have "grown into" one that simply didn't speak to you when younger. That plus its massive historical influence is what lets me confidently label the book a classic, and specifically one that will most likely better stand the test of time than many of the other titles in this series, even though I know there's a group of resentful former American Lit students out there who would passionately argue otherwise. Is it a classic? Yes (And don't forget that the first 33 essays in this series are now available in book form!) *And speaking of getting the goat of our American Lit teacher, the poor picked-on Stevie Hobart, it was a long-running tradition from the seniors to that year's juniors to urge them to say to her in class one day, "Say, I heard that Longfellow was gay," not only a stupid comment on its own but doubly annoying now over repeated years of use, which did indeed drive her into an explosive conniption fit when we asked it ourselves that year.

  42. 5 out of 5

    هالةْ أمين

    حدثني صديق ذات يوم أن هذا الكتاب لأهميته قامت ثلاثين دار نشر في الصين بترجمته ونشره تخيلوا كتاب واحد بثلاثين ترجمة مختلفة ! . هذا كتاب للطبيعة وعن الطبيعة وكل مافي هذه الطبيعة تفاصيل, تفاصيل, تفاصيل, كتاب مغرق بالتفاصيل عن كل شي في هذه الطبيعة . كيف قرر فجأة أن يعتزل سنتين في غابة والدن , كيف بنى كوخه وكيف كان يقضي لياليه وأيامه, كيف كان ياكل كيف تكونت أفكاره وكيف كانت قراءاته ؟ إنسان قضى مع نفسه سنتين صافيتين, حري به أن يعرفها حق المعرفة . كان سيستحق بلا شك النجمات الخمس لولا أن النسخة الإلكترونية حدثني صديق ذات يوم أن هذا الكتاب لأهميته قامت ثلاثين دار نشر في الصين بترجمته ونشره تخيلوا كتاب واحد بثلاثين ترجمة مختلفة ! . هذا كتاب للطبيعة وعن الطبيعة وكل مافي هذه الطبيعة تفاصيل, تفاصيل, تفاصيل, كتاب مغرق بالتفاصيل عن كل شي في هذه الطبيعة . كيف قرر فجأة أن يعتزل سنتين في غابة والدن , كيف بنى كوخه وكيف كان يقضي لياليه وأيامه, كيف كان ياكل كيف تكونت أفكاره وكيف كانت قراءاته ؟ إنسان قضى مع نفسه سنتين صافيتين, حري به أن يعرفها حق المعرفة . كان سيستحق بلا شك النجمات الخمس لولا أن النسخة الإلكترونية أثارت صداعي لسوء التصوير ولكبر الصفحة وصغر الخط والعيب الآخر تفاصيل التفاصيل التي غرق بها الكتاب كانت مملة في كثير من الأحيان, لكنه يرى لها سببا . لن أطيل الحديث فالأستاذ ممدوح قام بكتابة مقال رائع جدا تشعر بقرائتك له كأنك قرأت والدن كاملة http://mamdouha.wordpress.com/2014/01...

  43. 5 out of 5

    Shahrzad

    والدن فصلهایی از زندگی کسی است که حدود دویست سال پیش برای مدتی از جامعه کنده و در آغوش طبیعت روزگار میگذراند، آرزوی بسیاری از ما را عملی کرده و در کنار روایت زندگیاش گزارش دقیقی از طبیعت اطرافش و چهارفصل ارائه میدهد. والدن را بخوانید تا دستِ کم در خیال رستگار شوید. والدن فصل‌هایی از زندگی کسی است که حدود دویست سال پیش برای مدتی از جامعه کنده و در آغوش طبیعت روزگار می‌گذراند، آرزوی بسیاری از ما را عملی کرده و در کنار روایت زندگی‌اش گزارش دقیقی از طبیعت اطرافش و چهارفصل ارائه می‌دهد. والدن را بخوانید تا دستِ کم در خیال رستگار شوید.

  44. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finkel

    This is, plain and simply, an astonishing book. Not nearly as hard to read as I'd feared. And despite it being well more than 100 years old, its themes, and its language, seems strikingly relevant today. An American classic. You will not regret reading this.

  45. 4 out of 5

    Ritinha

    Sem prejuízo de tudo de bom que se escreveu sobre Walden, a verdade é que esperava uma leitura menos... Morosa 🙄 (Calhou em jeito ter lido a Ilíada no início deste ano)

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