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The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – November 24, 2009


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The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 (New York Review Books Classics) + Henry David Thoreau : A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod (Library of America) + Henry David Thoreau : Collected Essays and Poems (Library of America)
Price for all three: $64.82

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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; Original edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159017321X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173213
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Thoreau began keeping a journal at age 20, ultimately filling 14 notebooks and a collection he titled “Gleanings; or, What Time Has Not Reaped of My Journal.” Writer, editor, and translator Searls selected passages from this vast sea of words to create the largest and most cohesive one-volume reader’s edition ever published. Thoreau’s journal was the wellspring for all his books, and Searls is acutely attuned to its grand continuity and “synthesizing quality,” ensuring that readers will be able to fully appreciate Thoreau’s sustained contemplation of the cycles, patterns, and interconnectivity of nature. What is also apparent is how the rhythms and revelations of Thoreau’s long walks inspired the flow and radiance of his poetic prose. Searls’ sensitive editing casts new light on Thoreau’s abiding fascination with weather, trees, turtles, the moon, birds, berries, and, of course, human nature. Observant, philosophical, and rhapsodic, Thoreau parses his own moods, portrays friends and neighbors, decries slavery and the destruction of the living world, and rejoices in beauty. This is a superb and uniquely accessible edition of an essential American masterpiece. --Donna Seaman

Review

"[Searls's selection] admirably preserves the feel of the 7,000-page original. This lightweight, sturdy edition ... practically begs to be read outside." —Thomas Meaney, Times Literary Supplement

"Writer, editor, and translator Searls selected passages from this vast sea of words to create the largest and most cohesive one-volume reader’s edition ever published...This is a superb and uniquely accessible edition of an essential American masterpiece." —Booklist

“It is the unflagging beauty of the writing, day after day, that confirms its greatness among writers’ journals.” —Alfred Kazin

“Thoreau could lift a fish out of the stream with his hands; he could charm a wild squirrel to nestle in his coat; he could sit so still that the animals went on with their play round him. [In the Journal] we have a chance of getting to know Thoreau as few people are known, even by their friends.” —Virginia Woolf

“Reading Thoreau’s Journal I discover any idea I’ve ever had worth its salt.”—John Cage

More About the Author

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer and philosopher as well as a naturalist. Walden is considered his masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Five stars indeed for Thoreau's Journal creation and the whole cosmos full for God's Word and His Creation!!!
Donald Carmichael
By length alone, despite a questionable editing choice, this new book becomes one of the best choices for the average reader interested in Thoreau's journal.
jd103
My only wish is that it was also available in Kindle version, as it is a book that lends itself very well to "dipping into" almost at random..
P. Bergh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By jd103 on November 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
By length alone, despite a questionable editing choice, this new book becomes one of the best choices for the average reader interested in Thoreau's journal. No one, including the editor, pretends this is the equal of the full journal which is roughly ten times longer. Unfortunately, the older two-volume (relatively) complete journal is in a large unwieldy format, and the complete journal currently being published by Princeton is too academic and too expensive for the average reader.

The book's introductory material mentions five previous and much shorter books of journal selections. Several of these are still available--I own four of them and a couple others which aren't mentioned. Because there is so much original material to choose from and some of the books have a specific focus, there isn't that much duplication among them. If you enjoy one, you'll enjoy them all. Given the current options, I've preferred accumulating a collection of these books to an unsatisfactory version of the complete journal.

The introduction also explains how this book's content was chosen. The primary objective was to have it read as a representative version of the full journal rather than as a collection of excerpts. The editor therefore tried to balance material among the seasons and months, including keeping one of each month relatively unabridged. Another goal was to make it readable, so there is very little in the way of notes. Entries were chosen by personal preference, not historical importance. As you read, the date appears on the left page and Thoreau's age on the right so you always know where you are both in time and in his life.

An introductory example shows some of what was cut from one day's entry and made me wish again there was a better edition of the full journal.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Proust, after reading excerpts of a French translation of Thoreau's Walden, said that, "It is as though one were reading them inside oneself, so much do they arise from the depths of our intimate experience." Indeed, quibble with editor, Damion Searls', selections for this nearly 700 page one volume edition of the Thoreau's Journal -one-tenth the original size - if you see fit, but he seems to me to have caught the heart of Thoreau. Proust might well admire him; at times, one rather thinks one might be reading a translation of Proust:

"Dreams are real, as is the light of stars and moon, and theirs is said to be a dreamy light. Such early morning thoughts as I speak of occupy a debatable ground between dreams and waking thoughts. They are a sort of permanent dream in my mind. At least, until we have for some time changed our position from prostrate to erect, and commenced or faced some of the duties of the day, we cannot tell what we have dreamed from what we have actually experienced."

The best parts of these "intimate experiences" recorded here are the words of a liminal being, seeing through to some other world by seeing into the world around him so meticulously and yet so profoundly:

"Certain localities only a few rods square in the fields and on the hills, sometimes the other side of a wall, attract me as if they had been the scene of pleasure in another existence."

"As I climbed the Cliff, I paused in the sun and sat on a dry rock, dreaming. I thought of those summery hours when time is tinged with eternity - runs into it and becomes one stuff with it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P. Bergh on May 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I agree you can question the editing until you're blue in the face, this is a fine, affordable way to enjoy Thoreau's journals, plus a LOT easier to use than his hardcover versions, which, by the way are difficult to find. My only wish is that it was also available in Kindle version, as it is a book that lends itself very well to "dipping into" almost at random.. I keep it near my reading chair and, even with only a few minutes, am constantly blown away by Mr. HDT's brilliance, wit, and grasp of both the natural and human state of the world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tom McCubbin on January 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Life would suck without this journal. Thanks, Henry, for all your wonderful and thoughtful work. A year or more of page-flipping ecstasy awaits the reader. I use the journal as a prompt for keeping my own journal. The work operates on many different levels: a forerunner of modern nature writing, a style guide for budding writers, a philosopher's guide to idealism mixed with common sense. I'm half way into my third reading, and bought both paperback and Kindle.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald Carmichael on March 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Henry David Thoreau puts self-made pencil to paper on the night table of his self-made cabin in the woods to hone his God-given writing talent. (That is, until Ralph Waldo's "Mr. Self-Reliance" moves back to his parents' house and his mother's complimentary meal ticket, but that's another story. Oh well! All of us are entitled to a little hypocracy in life, are we not?) Back to the real world: this single volume edition of Thoreau's many years of journal entries are surely inspiring, thoughful and just plain good reading, and eventually become the meat and potatoes (sans the meat--he was vegan, before "vegan" was popular) of his world-class essays. His Journal, along with the Holy Bible, will keep me reading about hypocrits and prodigal sons until the Kingdom and Nirvana come. Five stars indeed for Thoreau's Journal creation and the whole cosmos full for God's Word and His Creation!!!
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