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Journal Vol. 8

The Writings of Henry D.Thoreau - 1854

Journal( )
Author: Thoreau, Henry David
Petrulionis, Sandra Harbert
Series title:Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Ser.
ISBN:978-0-691-06541-0
Publication Date:May 2002
Publisher:Princeton University Press
Book Format:Hardback
List Price:USD $130.00
Book Description:

From 1837 to 1861, Thoreau kept a Journal that began as a conventional record of ideas, grew into a writer's notebook, and eventually became the principal imaginative work of his career. The source of much of his published writing, the Journal is also a record of his interior life and of his monumental studies of the natural history of his native Concord, Massachusetts. Unlike earlier editions, the Princeton edition reproduces the Journal in its original and complete form, in a...
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Book Details
Pages:528
Detailed Subjects: Literary Criticism / American / General
Physical Dimensions (W X L X H):5.304 x 8.229 x 1.304 Inches
Book Weight:1.373 Pounds
Author Biography
Thoreau, Henry David (Author)
In September 1842, Nathaniel Hawthorne noted this social encounter in his journal: "Mr. Thorow dined with us yesterday. He is a singular character---a young man with much of wild original nature still remaining in him; and so far as he is sophisticated, it is in a way and method of his own. He is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and somewhat rustic, although courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty. On the whole, I find him a healthy and wholesome man to know." Most responses to Thoreau are as ambiguously respectful as was Hawthorne's. Thoreau was neither an easy person to like nor an easy writer to read.

Thoreau described himself as a mystic, a Transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher. He is a writer of essays about nature---not of facts about it but of his ideals and emotions in its presence. His wish to understand nature led him to Walden Pond, where he lived from 1845 to 1847 in a cabin that he built. Though he was an educated man with a Harvard degree, fluent in ancient and modern German, he preferred to study nature by living "a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust." Knowing this, we should beware of misreading the book that best reflected this great experience in Thoreau's life: Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854). It is not a handbook of the simple life. Though there are elements in the book of a "whole-earth catalogue" mentality, to focus on the radical "economic" aspects of Thoreau's work is to miss much in the book. Nor is it an autobiography. The right way to read Walden is as a "transcendental" narrative prose poem, whose hero is a man named Henry, a modern Odysseus in search of a "true America."

Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, 1846, exactly two years, two months, and two days after he had settled there. As he explained in the pages of Walden: "I left the wood



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