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A Year in Thoreau's Journal: 1851 (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817. He graduated from Harvard in 1837, the same year he began his lifelong Journal. Inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau became a key member of the Transcendentalist movement that included Margaret Fuller and Bronson Alcott. The Transcendentalists' faith in nature was tested by Thoreau between 1845 and 1847 when he lived for twenty-six months in a homemade hut at Walden Pond. While living at Walden, Thoreau worked on the two books published during his lifetime: Walden (1854) and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849). Several of his other works, including The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, and Excursions, were published posthumously. Thoreau died in Concord, at the age of forty-four, in 1862.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (December 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140390855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140390858
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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

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Format: Paperback
Many readers exposure to Thoreau's published self-contained books like _Walden_ and _The Maine Woods_ are intrigued enough to look deeper. Inevitably, you end up with the Journals.
The journals are so long and copious, that it can be hard to decide where to start. I don't know off-hand how many pages or words there are, but there are enough of Thoreau's Journals out there to last you 3 to 5 years of reading.
So! You should buy this starter book to introduce you to the flavor of the Journals. If you also read some of the Biographies out there, you learn that Thoreau's life went through some distinct periods, which will be reflected in the different Journals. Many folks think 1851 was a magic and expanding year for him, and that's why this book follows this year alone.
My only complaint about the book using this time frame is that it sort of Pornographically selects from all the years of the Journals--and pornographically selects from 1851. As if all T's days were charmed, all rich with experience.
But the Journal selections excerpted here and this book as a whole have many good qualities that outway my only complaint. They are:
1.--This book follows a year, and T was very much influenced by the seasons. Coming full circle in a year with T is good reading.
2.--The book doesn't try to do too much. If an Introduction book does its job, it should leave you wanting more deep info on the subject. This book did that for me.
3.--There are a couple-few cool replications of drawings T did in his journal. Bonus points for these.
Overall, the subject material here is awesome. If you only know Thoreau through his published "books" and if you like them (especially the naturalist part of them), the Journals will change your world. This book does a solid good job of introducing you to the Journals.
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Format: Paperback
Henry David Thoreau's journal is his masterpiece, and somewhat different to his more polished works.

This is by far the best way to experience his journal, too. Short excerpted collections are problematic because you cannot get used to the flow of his writing, and the changing nature of it over the lifespan of the journal. This book, which is the full year of 1851, may contain less-than-stellar entries, but it also contains some rippers, and is definitely the best way to experience it. It was about this time in his life that Thoreau decided to stop using his journal just as a source for his other books, and rather to create it for its own sake. And it shows - this is not writing to be chopped up and excerpted, but to be enjoyed in its entirety.

The best possible introduction to the masterpiece of his life - 5 stars.
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As previous reviewers have noted, this is an ideal introduction to Thoreau's immense Journal, which can be overwhelming if taken all at once -- especially by someone unfamiliar with Thoreau the writer & thinker. By wisely choosing one crucial year, we follow Thoreau day by day as he describes the world around him, both natural & human; at the same time, we're privy to his philosophical musings & digressions, which demonstrate the shaping & progression of his thought. This edition even includes his simple but clear drawings of leaves, clouds, etc., interspersed in the text.

It's fascinating to see how Thoreau went from being considered a failure in his own time to one of the most prescient & relevant American writers of our time. The materialism, the conspicuous consumption, the degradation of both the natural world & human relationships -- he saw it all coming, and did his best to offer an alternative worldview, one based on the development & growth of a genuinely authentic life. Given the superficiality & essential emptiness of current society, that alternative worldview is desperately needed now.

And simply as literature, this is beautiful reading, with a deceptively simple prose that's been carved & polished with incredible precision. Yet it seems to emerge on each page as something spontaneous & natural, like the unfolding & flowering of a green branch in Spring. At the same time, Thoreau can be humorous, particularly in a satiric vein; and he can also be quite pungent, as well.

This isn't for everyone, if course -- although many who'll undoubtedly shun or ignore it would probably benefit from it. But for anyone who hungers for something deeper than the illusion of a worthwhile life -- the one that's offered by contemporary culture in all media -- this is rich & fertile ground. Most highly & urgently recommended!
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By A Customer on July 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Thoreau's journals are an insight into the man who thrived on simplicity. This book captures the years in which he was making his final revisions on "Waldon." His journal reflects his masterpiece and his book is then reflected back into his journal writings. If you are at all interested in Thoreau's writings, this is a needed companion to understand such a brilliant mind.
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I know Thoreau is an American classic, but his journals are tedious and boring. If you are a huge fan of Thoreau AND you love to read about all the details of someone's daily walk - the types of vegetation to be found, etc. With only a very occasional musing into the workings of human relations, this book is for you.
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