Much has been said, written and speculated over Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Its opening statement set the scene:
“When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.”
I discovered Walden long before I studied literature, philosophy, sociology or psychology. I bought a Shambhala Pocket Classics edition in Cape Town during my first year in high school. I have read it many times since, as well as reading the opinions and analysis that surrounds it, but I still think it’s one of those books best read without analysis and deep thought.
It tells the story of a man who lived in a hut he built himself near a pond in the woods for two years. It was not written at the time, but later on as recollections and it is almost a collection of carefully crafted stream-of-consciousness thoughts set around particular themes. He feels passionately, he writes beautifully and sets out clearly his conviction that the best kind of living is the simple life.
Price: ± £0.00 (Kindle edition) – £18.99 (Hardcover Bicentennial Illustrated Edition)
About Henry David Thoreau
“Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. He began writing nature poetry in the 1840s, with poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor and friend. In 1845 he began his famous two-year stay on Walden Pond, which he wrote about in his master work, Walden. He also became known for his beliefs in Transcendentalism and civil disobedience, and was a dedicated abolitionist.”*
Walden is written in chapters, each covering a specific theme. He writes mainly around central themes of self-reliance, the benefits of solitude, simplicity and living life in line with general ecological principles.
Environment & People
There are many Kindle editions of Walden available at a very low cost (some free) for those interested in a quick read. The Thoreau Bicentennial Edition contains ” thirty remarkable engravings, daguerreotypes, and period photographs” and is a reproduction of the 1897 publication. It’s £10.99 for the Kindle Edition and £18.99 for Hardback. The Hardback would make a lovely gift or easily find a place on the shelf for anyone who treasures his writing.
Genre: Collection of philosophical essays
Available formats: Kindle edition, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio MP3 CD, Audio download (not recommended).
Publisher (Audio): Trout Lake Media
Publisher (Kindle): TarcherPerigee (25 Oct. 2016)
Release date: First published on 9 August 9 1854.
Target age: Teens, Adults, Older adults
Product dimensions: 14.6 x 3.1 x 21.6 cm (Hardcover – Bicentennial Edition)
* Language requirement: It required an advanced reading level
* Kindle/Audible (free) App for eBooks
Walden isn’t an easy read, but it’s also not intimidating or uninviting. It is an uneven text with some almost rambling long sequences interspersed by many short, highly quotable aphorisms, like “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Most people will be familiar with at least one line from Walden, it’s a highly quotable and quoted work. Read the complete book at least once, set within context where all his pithy observations obtain more depth and truth. Recommended.
The review is based on the Kindle version of Walden: Life in the woods. This article was first published on 19 February 2017.