Walden and Other Writings

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Random House Publishing Group, Sep 5, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 769 pages
94 Reviews
1. Walden, thought by many to be Thoreau's masterpiece, contains the famous lines, 'I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.' What lessons does Thoreau learn, in your view, through his experience of living in simple near isolation at Walden Pond? 2. At the end of two years, why does Thoreau leave Walden? Does he himself provide or imply an adequate answer? 3. Discuss Thoreau's ideas about living simply, without material luxuries. Do his ideas still apply? Is the kind of freedom and self-reliance Thoreau sought possible in societies other than the America of Thoreau's time? Is it possible in America today? 4. In the essay 'Nature,' Thoreau writes: 'I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil-to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.' Discuss the meaning of this statement, and Thoreau's relationship to nature, one of the great themes running through all of his work, as both 'absolute freedom and wildness,' and as something that has, for Thoreau, definite spiritual associations. What is to be gained by living as 'part and parcel of Nature?' What is given up? Discuss other writers you've read that might be said to record similar attitudes toward nature. 5. The essay 'Civil Disobedience' proved to be one of the most admired essays ever written; it influenced Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gandhi, among others. In it, Thoreau distinguishes between 'the law,' and 'the right,' and here as elsewhere takes strong issue with government injustice, and even government altogether. In the essay's first paragraph he writes, 'That government is best which governs not at all,' and elsewhere, 'Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.' Still elsewhere, he writes, 'I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion.' Discuss Thoreau's attitude toward government, politics, and morality, in 'Civil Disobedience' and elsewhere in his writings.

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Many wonderful quotes and philosophical insights. - Goodreads
Thoreau focuses a lot on details in his writing. - Goodreads
But he is a naturalist as much as a writer. - Goodreads
He never thinks of writing as a gift. - Goodreads

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - amelish - LibraryThing

I was going to say something silly and Garden State-y about how Walden changed my life, but am rewording because the experience of reading this book was more like...confirmation. Which is to say, I've ... Read full review

Review: Walden and Other Writings

User Review  - Prabhat Singh - Goodreads

I must say that few chapters from this book will get you thinking. No matter you like it or not. Life Without Principle and countable chapters form Walden are very good. Few of them was pretty boring as it tells you everything but nature, nature and nature. All in all a very good read. Read full review


A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
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About the author (1992)

Henry David Thoreau was born July 12, 1817 - "just in the nick of time," as he wrote, for the "flowering of New England," when the area boasted such eminent citizens as Emerson, Hawthorne, Whitman and Melville. Raised in genteel poverty - his father made and sold pencils from their home - Thoreau enjoyed, nevertheless, a fine education, graduating from Harvard in 1837. In that year, the young thinker met Emerson and formed the close friendship that became the most significant of his life. Guided, sponsored and aided by his famous older colleague, Thoreau began to publish essays in The Dial, exhibiting the radical originality that would gain the disdain of his contemporaries but the great admiration of all succeeding generations.

In 1845, Thoreau began the living experiment for which he is most famous. During his two years and two months in the shack beside the New England pond, he wrote his first important work, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), was arrested for refusing to pay his poll tax to a government that supported slavery (recorded in "Civil Disobedience") and gathered the material for his masterpiece, Walden (1854). He spent the rest of his life writing and lecturing and died, relatively unappreciated, in 1862.

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