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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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"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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
"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.Read more ›
As a Thoreau acolyte, having this by my bedside as a nightly dose of calm is my evening treat. It is easily a "dipping" book and once in a while, I hit the same page twice in a week...No Matter! It's all good, thought-provoking Thoreau at his best and easily my best purchase of this year.
Binding is for the long-haul and the paper is magnificent...smooth and ivory-colored.
If you appreciate H.D.T., then by all means add this to your library!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having finished reading it, I now use it as a day book picking it up a few times each week to read Thoreau's wisdoms and witticisms. Yes I said witticisms. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Richard
I have enjoyed this so much. It is tedious at times, but what an insight into the mind of this genius observer of the natural world!Published 7 months ago by Renee Louise Osborne
I love this book. I walk back in time with nature and the timeless and beautiful observations of this amazing man.Published 17 months ago by Janet Signore
It's one of the fundamental documents of American culture - and while you sacrifice completeness for a one-volume version … it's still Henry.Published on January 1, 2014 by Dennis McNally
Unfortunately, it was not the journals I was looking for. I had lost a paperback book of "Selected Journals of HDT 1837-1861" due to water in my basement. Read morePublished on September 14, 2013 by Albert Manganelli
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. Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by Donald Carmichael