An experiment. A declaration. A spiritual awakening. Noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau spent two years, two months, and two days chronicling his near-isolation in a small cabin he built in the woods near Walden Pond, on land owned by his mentor and the father of Transcendentalism, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Immersing himself in nature and solitude, Thoreau sought to develop a greater understanding of society amidst a life of self-reliance and simplicity. Originally published in 1854, Walden remains one of the most celebrated works in American literature. Also includes Walden's essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience".
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This book is part of an experiment in living, thinking, experiencing the ideas of a great man; that dares us to confront our ideas with reality, to confront our reality with the force of ideas and the conviction to carry them out. This is a big dream carried out in the minutia of living it simply, of understanding how we live, what is really required to sustain our “lifestyles”, what price we really pay for our unquestioning acceptance of our culture, society, religion, even the food we use as a given necessity. It is a book that looks for the truth in nature and the inward nature we share with all beings.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden
This is not an easy book to read because it is of its time and some of the references are lost at least to me but this should not detract from the fantastic riches it gives, the incredible beauty it describes; even when you disagree on the practicality of some of the ideas you see that in a smaller society in a more homogenous group, or in less egotistical humanity this dreams this heavenly desires could work. Seven billion plus humans and expanding, prohibit by the very nature of those numbers the development of this dreams that now seem distant like the virgin forests of America or the fast disappearing savannas of africa.
“As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
You will also find a deep love of literature, philosophy and a reverence for classical thought eastern and western, a reflection of a mind that has absorbed so much so profoundly. This is a book that must be reread and question, it is beautifully written with so much depth and importance it should not be forgotten but studied, recommended, shared till the end of time.
“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; -- not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden