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The Maine Woods (Penguin Nature Library) Paperback – September 1, 1988

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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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.

Edward Hoagland's books include The Courage of Turtles, Walking the Dead Diamond River, Red Wolves and Black Bears, and Notes from the Century Before: A Journal from British Columbia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (September 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140170138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140170139
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph White on March 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
"The Maine Woods" relates three separate trips Henry Thoreau made to the Mount Katahdin and Allagash Wilderness Waterway region of Maine At 29 years old in 1846, at 36 years old in 1853, and at 40 years old in 1857. In each of the stories he travels with a friend by rail, steamboat, and coach to the starting point, hires a guide, and embarks on his adventure. Even for a reader familiar with the region, it is essential to keep a map handy to follow the author in his travels. In the first trip he hires a local outfitter as a guide, and poles up the West Branch of the Penobscot River, across lakes and up streams, as close to Mt. Katahdin as he can get, then climbs to the summit of what the Indians called Ktaadn, or "highest land," and now called Mt. Katahdin. His route up the mountain approximated what we now know as the Abol trail, though with no trail to follow, his experience was very different from today's Abol daypacker. He summited on a cloudy day, and missed out on the breathtaking views, though he did get infected with the spiritual bug, and he waxes philosophical as he makes his way back down. Thoreau's enduring memory of the region is "the continuousness of the forest." Thanks to the generous 209,501 acre gift of one of Maine's Governors, Percival Baxter, that memory of Thoreau's is also likely to be yours.

By contrast, the second story is less adventurous, being a canoe-camping trip on Chesuncook and surrounding lakes. Thoreau ends the story reflecting on man's vulnerability in the wilderness, and prays that man will not become "civilized off the face of the earth." I take this trip to be fundamentally a reconnaissance for the third and most ambitious of his trips, titled "The Allagash and East Branch.
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Format: Paperback
What a shame most people will never get beyond Walden...

This title is a joy and stands on its own. First up is a short piece about an early ascent of Ktaadn, followed by a longer one on the Allegash & East Branch. If you read nothing else, open it to the middle of pg 22 (& ends on 23). It will take 1 minute and enthrall you with observations and the call of the Wild Boreal North Woods as they were long before roads or even trails and certainly before the great northern paper companies cut their unending swaths through virgin lands. His reflections on the ponds and natives (the Brookies) are as intimate and priceless as the jewels themselves. His opine references to the Greeks are as relevant today as they were then or 4,000 years ago. I first came across a copy in the White House Library (at a dinner reception i could not resist seeing what comforted our leaders during long & troubled nights). It took me several years to track down a copy but it was worth the process.

Do not read this and compare it to Walden or as a some window into Thoreau, but for sheer joy of kicking off the canoe at Telos and the wonder of the north country.
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Thoreau takes the reader on a wonderful journey through the largely uninhabited forests of Maine. It is clear that Thoreau is a botanist. He is continually identifying trees and plants by Botanical as well as Common name. He also identifies the birds he encounters. Sadly the Maine woods were not pristine at the time of Thoreau's journeys. There were scars of loggers, who mainly came for pine trees, along Thoreau's entire route. His journeys also include a hired Indian and Thoreau has recorded Indian names for lakes, rivers, plants and such. Judging by this book, Thoreau has not a lick of humor, so don't expect a laugh. Bits of Thoreau's philosphy are strewn throughout, it's a shame he didn't elaborate. Many measurements were made in "rods" which I have yet to figure out how many feet one rod is. I was a bit surprised to find his journeys were made by canoe, with quite many portages. All in all, this is a great book and I highly recommend it.
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Henry Thoreau's accounts of his three trips to the Maine woods still stands up as a first class account of how to travel lightly in Maine: up and down the rivers and streams by canoe or bateau, over the very difficult portages, across large lakes in search of their connections to other waterways; how to set up camp and spend the night; how to fish and hunt for moose and dine in the woods using whatever is at hand; all the while appreciating the beauty and biological value that he sees and documents for our benefit. Should be read and read again, for the richness his travelogues contain, and as the value of his writing increases.
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Bought this book at my husband's request after we had visited Maine & hiked the Hunt Trail in Baxter State Park (part of the Appalachian Trail). He enjoyed this book even more because of our experience. Recommend for any fan of the AP. Makes you realize how much hiking has advanced since Thoreau's day.
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Thoreau's meticulous attention to detail in nature is equalled or surpassed by his incisive observations of human nature which are sprinkled throughout the text. Would that the editor had the same attention to detail - the beautiful Eliot Porter photo gracing the front of the Hoagland-designed cover is of New Hampshire not Maine. HDT would be bothered by this sacrifice of reality on the altar of commercialism!
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