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Encyclopedia > Walden
This article is about a book by Henry David Thoreau. For other uses of the name, see Walden (disambiguation).
Author Henry David Thoreau
Original title 'Walden; or, Life in the Woods'
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Autobiography
Publisher Ticknor and Fields: Boston (Original Publisher)
Publication date 1854
Henry David Thoreau

Central topics Thoreau redirects here. ... Walden, a famous book written by American author Henry David Thoreau. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Thoreau redirects here. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... For writing autobiographies on Wikipedia, see WP:Autobiography. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... For the board game, see 1854 (board game). ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (623x768, 150 KB) Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Source : http://eserver. ...

Civil Disobedience
Herald of Freedom
Life Without Principle
The Last Days of John Brown
Paradise (to be) Regained
A Plea for Captain John Brown
Reform and the Reformers
Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown
The Service
Sir Walter Raleigh
Slavery in Massachusetts
Thomas Carlyle and His Works
A Walk to Wachusett
Wendell Phillips Before the Concord Lyceum
The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau
Thoreau Society
Civil Disobedience is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. ... Herald of Freedom was an essay by Henry David Thoreau published in The Dial in 1844 that praised Herald of Freedom, the journal of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and its editor, Nathaniel P. Rogers. ... Life Without Principle is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that gives his program for right livelihood. ... The Last Days of John Brown is an essay by Henry David Thoreau written in 1860 that praised the executed abolitionist militia leader John Brown. ... Paradise (to be) Regained is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau and published in 1843 in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review. ... A Plea for Captain John Brown is an essay by Henry David Thoreau. ... Reform and the Reformers is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau. ... Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown is a speech given by Henry David Thoreau on 2 December 1859 at the time of John Brown’s execution. ... The Service is an essay written in 1840 by Henry David Thoreau. ... Sir Walter Raleigh is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that has been reconstructed from notes he wrote for a lecture he gave in 1843 and drafts of an article he was preparing for The Dial. ... “Slavery in Massachusetts” is an 1854 essay by Henry David Thoreau based on a speech he gave at an anti-slavery rally at Framingham, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1854, after the reënslavement in Boston, Massachusetts of fugitive slave Anthony Burns. ... Thomas Carlyle and His Works is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau that praises the writings of Thomas Carlyle. ... A Walk to Wachusett is an essay penned by Henry David Thoreau about a journey he took with companion, Richard Fuller from Concord, Massachusetts to the summit of Mount Wachusett located in Princeton, Massachusetts. ... Wendell Phillips Before the Concord Lyceum is a letter-to-the-editor written by Henry David Thoreau and published in The Liberator in 1845 that praised the abolitionist lecturer Wendell Phillips. ... The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau is a project that aims to, for the first time, provide accurate texts of the works of Henry David Thoreau, the American author, including his journal, his personal letters, and his writings for publications. ... About Established in 1941, the Thoreau Society has long contributed to the dissemination of knowledge about Thoreau by collecting books, manuscripts, and artifacts relating to Thoreau and his contemporaries, by encouraging the use of its collections, and by publishing articles in two Society periodicals. ...

Related topics

Abolitionism · Anarchism
Anarchism in the United States
Civil disobedience
Concord, Massachusetts
Conscientious objection
Direct action · Ecology
History of tax resistance
Individualist anarchism
John Brown · Lyceum movement
Nonviolent resistance
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Simple living · Tax resistance
Tax resisters · Transcendentalism
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail
Walden Pond This article is about slavery. ... Anarchist redirects here. ... Anarchism in the United States spans a wide range of anarchist philosophy, from individualist anarchism to anarchist communism and other less known forms. ... For other uses, see Civil disobedience (disambiguation). ... Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts Coordinates: , Country State County Middlesex Settled 1635 Incorporated 1635 Government  - Type Open town meeting Area  - Total 25. ... John T. Neufeld was a WWI conscientious objector sentenced to 15 years hard labour in the military prison at Leavenworth. ... For the Canadian urban guerrilla group Direct Action, see Squamish Five. ... For the journal, see Ecology (journal). ... The historic Blue Marble photograph, which helped bring environmentalism to the public eye. ... Tax resistance has probably existed as long as those in a position of power have imposed taxes. ... Theory and practice Issues History Culture By region Lists Related Anarchism Portal Politics Portal ·        Individualist anarchism (also anarchist individualism, anarcho-individualism, individualistic anarchism) refers to any of several traditions that hold that individual conscience and the pursuit of self-interest should not be constrained by any collective body or public... John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was a white American abolitionist who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish all slavery. ... The lyceum movement in the United States was a early form of organized adult education based on Aristotles Lyceum in Ancient Greece. ... Nonviolent resistance (or nonviolent action) is the practice of achieving socio-political goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ... Simple living (or voluntary simplicity) is a lifestyle individuals choose to minimize the more-is-better pursuit of wealth and consumption. ... A tax resister resists or refuses payment of a tax because of opposition to the institution collecting the tax, or to some of that institution’s policies. ... Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early-to mid-19th century. ... The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail is a two-act play by Robert Edwin Lee and Jerome Lawrence. ... Thoreaus Cove, Concord, Mass. ...

Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau's sojourn in a cabin near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau lived at Walden for two years, two months, and two days, but Walden was written so that the stay appears to be a year, with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau did not intend to live as a hermit, for he received visitors and returned their visits. Instead, he hoped to isolate himself from society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Simplicity and self-reliance were Thoreau's other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy. As Thoreau made clear in the book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, not far from his family home. Thoreau redirects here. ... For the book by Chuck Palahniuk titled Non-fiction, see Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories. ... Thoreaus Cove, Concord, Mass. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ... Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts Coordinates: , Country State County Middlesex Settled 1635 Incorporated 1635 Government  - Type Open town meeting Area  - Total 25. ... For other uses, see Hermit (disambiguation). ... Transcendentalism was the name of a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture and philosophy which emerged in New England in the early- to mid-nineteenth century. ...



Economy: This is the first chapter and also the longest by far. Thoreau begins by outlining his project: a two-year and two-month stay at a crude cabin in the woods near Walden Pond. He does this, he says, in order to illustrate the spiritual benefits of a simplified lifestyle. He easily supplies the four necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing, and fuel). He meticulously records his expenditures and earnings, demonstrating his understanding of "economy," as he builds his house and buys and grows food. For a home and freedom, he spends a mere $28.12.

Complementary Verses: This chapter consists entirely of a poem, "The Pretensions of Poverty," by seventeenth-century English poet Thomas Carew. The poem criticizes those who think that their poverty gives them some sort of unearned moral and intellectual superiority. Thomas Carew (pronounced like Carey) (1595 – March 22, 1640) was an English poet. ...

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For: After playing with the idea of buying a farm, Thoreau describes his cabin's location. Then he explains that he took up his abode at Walden Woods so as 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."

Reading: Thoreau discourses on the benefits of reading classical literature (preferably in the original Greek or Latin) and bemoans the lack of sophistication in Concord, manifested in the popularity of popular literature. He yearns for a utopian time when each New England village will support "wise men" to educate and thereby ennoble the population. This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... The Greek language (Greek Ελληνικά, IPA // – Hellenic) is an Indo-European language with a documented history of some 3,000 years. ... For other uses, see Latins and Latin (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Utopia (disambiguation). ...

Sounds: Thoreau opens this chapter by warning against relying too much on literature as a means of transcendence. Instead, one should experience life for oneself. Thus, after describing his cabin's beautiful natural surroundings and his casual housekeeping habits, Thoreau goes on to criticize the train whistle that interrupts his reverie. To him, the railroad symbolizes the destruction of the good old pastoral way of life. Following is a description of the sounds audible from his cabin: the church bells ringing, carriages rattling and rumbling, cows lowing, whip-poor-wills singing, owls hooting, frogs croaking, and cockerels crowing. Binomial name Wilson, 1812 The Whip-poor-will or whippoorwill, Caprimulgus vociferus, is a medium-sized (22-27 cm) nightjar, a type of nocturnal bird. ... ...

Solitude: Thoreau rhapsodizes about the beneficial effects of living solitary and close to nature. He loves to be alone, for "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude," and he is never lonely as long as he is close to nature. He believes there is no great value to be had by rubbing shoulders with the mass of humanity.

Visitors: Thoreau writes about the visitors to his cabin. Among the 25 or 30 visitors is a young French-Canadian woodchopper, whom Thoreau idealizes as approaching the ideal man, and a runaway slave, whom Thoreau helps on his journey to freedom in Canada.

The Bean-Field: Thoreau relates his efforts to cultivate two and a half acres of beans. He plants in June and spends his summer mornings weeding the field with a hoe. He sells most of the crop, and his small profit of $8.71 covers his needs.

The Village: Thoreau visits the small town of Concord every day or two to hear the news, which he finds "as refreshing in its way as the rustle of the leaves." Nevertheless, he fondly but rather contemptuously compares Concord to a gopher colony. In late summer, he is arrested for refusing to pay federal taxes, but is released the next day. He explains that he refuses to pay taxes to a government that supports slavery. Look up gopher, gofer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The Ponds: In autumn, Thoreau rambles about the countryside and writes down his observations about the geography of Walden Pond and its neighbors: Flint's Pond (or Sandy Pond), White Pond, and Goose Pond. Although Flint's is the largest, Thoreau's favorites are Walden and White ponds. They are lovelier than diamonds, he says.

Baker Farm: While on an afternoon ramble in the woods, Thoreau gets caught in a rainstorm and takes shelter in the dirty, dismal hut of John Field, a penniless but hard-working Irish farmhand, and his wife and children. Thoreau urges Field to live a simple but independent and fulfilling life in the woods, thereby freeing himself of employers and creditors. But the Irishman won't give up his dreams of luxury, which is the American dream.

Higher Laws: Thoreau discusses whether hunting wild animals and eating meat is good. He concludes that the primitive, animal side of humans drives them to kill and eat animals, and that a person who transcends this propensity is superior to those who don't. (Thoreau eats fish.) In addition to vegetarianism, he lauds chastity, work, and teetotalism. For animals adapted to eat primarily plants, sometimes referred to as vegetarian animals, see Herbivore. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Brute Neighbors: Thoreau briefly discusses the many wild animals that are his neighbors at Walden. A description of the nesting habits of partridges is followed by a fascinating account of a massive battle between red and black ants. Three of the combatants he takes into his cabin and examines them under a microscope as the black ant kills the two smaller red ones. Later, Thoreau takes his boat and tries to follow a teasing loon about the pond. For other uses, see Partridge (disambiguation). ... Species 266, see text Fire ants are stinging ants of the genus Solenopsis, of which there are 266 species. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Global distribution of Gaviidae (breeding and winter ranges combined) Species Gavia stellata Gavia arctica Gavia pacifica Gavia immer Gavia adamsii The Loons (N.Am. ...

House-Warming: After picking November berries in the woods, Thoreau bestirs himself to add a chimney and plaster the walls of his hut in order to stave off the cold of the oncoming winter. He also lays in a good supply of firewood, and expresses affection for wood and fire.

Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors: Thoreau relates the stories of people who formerly lived in the vicinity of Walden Pond. Then he talks about the few visitors he receives during the winter: a farmer, a woodchopper, and a poet (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Winter Animals: Thoreau amuses himself by watching wildlife during the winter. He relates his observations of owls, hares, red squirrels, mice, and various birds as they hunt, sing, and eat the scraps and corn he put out for them. He also describes a fox hunt that passes by. For other uses, see Hare (disambiguation). ... For the North American red squirrel, see American Red Squirrel. ... A fox hunt Fox hunting is a form of hunting for foxes using a pack of scent hounds. ...

The Pond in Winter: Thoreau describes Walden Pond as it appears during the winter. He claims to have sounded its depths and located an underground outlet. Then he recounts how 100 laborers came to cut great blocks of ice from the pond, the ice to be shipped to the Carolinas. The Carolinas is a collective term used in the United States to refer to the states of North and South Carolina together. ...

Spring: As spring arrives, Walden and the other ponds melt with stentorian thundering and rumbling. Thoreau enjoys watching the thaw, and grows ecstatic as he witnesses the green rebirth of nature. He watches the geese winging their way north, and a hawk playing by itself in the sky. As nature is reborn, the narrator implies, so is he. He departs Walden on September 8, 1847. is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1847 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...

Conclusion: This final chapter is more passionate and urgent than its predecessors. In it, Thoreau criticizes Americans' constant rush to succeed, to acquire superfluous wealth that does nothing to augment their happiness. He urges us to change our lives for the better, not by acquiring more wealth and material possessions, but instead to "sell your clothes and keep your thoughts," and to "say what you have to say, not what you ought." He criticizes conformity: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." By doing these things, men may find happiness and self-fulfillment.

"I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star."


Walden emphasizes the importance of self-reliance, solitude, contemplation, and closeness to nature in transcending the "desperate" existence that, he argues, is the lot of most humans. The book is not a traditional autobiography, but combines autobiography with a social critique of contemporary Western culture's consumerist and materialist attitudes and its distance from and destruction of nature. That the book is not simply a criticism of society, but also an attempt to engage creatively with the better aspects of contemporary culture, is suggested both by Thoreau's proximity to Concord society and by his admiration for classical literature. There are signs of ambiguity, or an attempt to see an alternative side of something common -- the sound of a passing locomotive, for example, is compared to natural sounds. For writing autobiographies on Wikipedia, see WP:Autobiography. ...

A reproduction of Thoreau's cabin with a statue of Thoreau
A reproduction of Thoreau's cabin with a statue of Thoreau

Walden is informed by American Transcendentalism, a philosophy developed mostly by Thoreau's friend and spiritual mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson owned the land on which Thoreau built his cabin at Walden Pond, and Thoreau often used to walk over to Emerson's house for a meal and a conversation. Image File history File linksMetadata Thoreau_cabin_statue_flickr. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Thoreau_cabin_statue_flickr. ... Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in the New England region of the United States of America in the early-to mid-nineteenth century. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ...

Thoreau regarded his sojourn at Walden as a noble experiment with a threefold purpose. First, he was escaping the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution by returning to a simpler, agrarian lifestyle. (However, he never intended the experiment to be permanent, explicitly advised that he did not expect all his readers to follow his example, and never wrote against technology or industry as such.) Second, he was simplifying his life and reducing his expenditures, increasing the amount of leisure time in which he could work on his writings (most of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was written at Walden). Much of the book is devoted to stirring up awareness of how one's life is lived, materially and otherwise, and how one might choose to live it more deliberately -- possibly differently. Third, he was putting into practice the Transcendentalist belief that one can best transcend normality and experience the Ideal, or the Divine, through nature. A Watt steam engine, the steam engine that propelled the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world. ...

Critical response

Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau’s endorsement of living alone in natural simplicity, apart from modern society, to be a mark of effeminacy, calling it "womanish solicitude; for there is something unmanly, something almost dastardly" about the lifestyle.[1] Richard Zacks pokes fun at Thoreau in An Underground Education : The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Knowledge saying:-1...

Thoreau's 'Walden, or Life in the Woods' deserves its status as a great American book but let it be known that Nature Boy went home on weekends to raid the family cookie jar. While living the simple life in the woods, Thoreau walked into nearby Concord, Mass., almost every day. And his mom, who lived less than two miles away, delivered goodie baskets filled with meals, pies and doughnuts every Saturday. The more one reads in Thoreau's unpolished journal of his stay in the woods, the more his sojourn resembles suburban boys going to their tree-house in the backyard and pretending they're camping in the heart of the jungle.{[2]}

Poet John Greenleaf Whittier criticized what he perceived as the message in Walden that man should lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs. He said: "Thoreau's Walden is a capital reading, but very wicked and heathenish... After all, for me, I prefer walking on two legs".[3] John Greenleaf Whittier (December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892) was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. ... This article is about the mammal. ...

Modern influence

The site of Thoreau's cabin marked by a cairn
The site of Thoreau's cabin marked by a cairn
  • Walden inspired the 1948 novel Walden Two by psychologist B.F. Skinner.
  • Walden Three, a non-profit educational foundation that promotes sustainable societies, takes its name from the book.
  • In the early years of the Doonesbury comic strip, the main characters lived in a commune they named Walden Puddle, a reference to Walden Pond and a note of Thoreau's influence on the student counterculture of the time.
  • The meetings of the fictional Dead Poets Society in the 1989 film with the same name were all opened with a quote from Walden.
  • A Wilhelm Scream has a song on their 2005 album Ruiner which refers to Thoreau, Walden, and nature. The title of the song is "When I Was Alive: Walden III." The lyrical excerpt is: "And like Thoreau, it's a quiet place for me. The sticks and the woods, it's all miles away from you."
  • Walden started a movement for less pollution and preserving wildlife.
  • Walden is one of the three books always carried by Phaedrus in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The excerpt is: "..which can be read a hundred times without exhaustion."
  • In a Zits Comic, Jeremy is telling his mother that he's taking care of his summer reading by listening to books on Podcast while he plays video games. When his mother asks him what book he's listening to, he says it's Walden.
  • In the episode "Live Deliberately" of the TV show Ed, Warren tries to impress a girl with his studious knowledge of Henry David Thoreau's simplified lifestyle by spending a weekend in a local mountain.
  • Walden is mentioned throughout the Frasier episode Cranes Unplugged.
  • Walden is mentioned and discussed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
  • Walden is the pro-environment essay Eric Cartman submitted as his own in the South Park episode "Weight Gain 4000".
  • Walden is an influence on the American author Paul Auster and reference is made to it in many of his books.
  • In an episode of CBS' popular forensics drama CSI, criminalist Sara Sidle encounters her supervisor (and partner) Gil Grissom reading Walden in his office, sparking a brief conversation about the book that sheds light on their relationship. This foreshadows a subsequent episode, in which Grissom explains that he is taking a sabbatical at the fictional Williams University, to research and teach a seminar on the life cycle of a local mosquito species at nearby Walden Pond.
  • A residential community in Calgary, Alberta is named after the book.[1]

Image File history File links Site_throeau_cabin_loc. ... Image File history File links Site_throeau_cabin_loc. ... For other uses, see Cairn (disambiguation). ... Walden Two (1948) is a novel by B.F. Skinner which described a fictional utopia in which a thousand people have obtained a good life modeled after Thoreaus experiment in living near Walden pond. ... Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 _ August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist and author. ... James (Jimmy) W. Walter is an American venture capitalist and political activist. ... Doonesbury is a comic strip by Garry Trudeau, popular in the United States and other parts of the world. ... Dead Poets Society is an Academy Award-winning 1989 film, directed by Peter Weir. ... A Wilhelm Scream is hardcore punk band, formerly known as Smackin Isaiah, from New Bedford, Massachusetts. ... The introduction of this article does not provide enough context for readers unfamiliar with the subject. ... Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values is the first of Robert M. Pirsigs texts in which he explores a Metaphysics of quality. ... Zits is a comic strip about a teenager named Jeremy Duncan and his relationship with family and friends. ... A podcast is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. ... The following is an episode list for the NBC dramedy television series Ed. ... Ed, ed or ED can mean any of the following: // ed (text editor), a UNIX text editor ed (biblical reference), an altar or related place in some English translations of the Bible. ... Frasier is an American sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer as psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane. ... The Perks of Being a Wallflower (often referred to as TPoBaW) is an epistolary novel written in the 1990s by American novelist Stephen Chbosky. ... Paul Auster Paul Benjamin Auster (born February 3, 1947, Newark, New Jersey) is a Brooklyn-based author. ... Happenstance is the eighth episode in season 7 of the popular American crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, set in Las Vegas, Nevada. ... Sara Sidle is a fictional character featured in the television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. ... Gilbert Gil Grissom, Ph. ... Leaving Las Vegas is the eleventh episode in season 7 of the popular American crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, set in Las Vegas, Nevada. ... Gilbert Gil Grissom, Ph. ... Thoreaus Cove, Concord, Mass. ... Calgary is a city in the province of Alberta, Canada. ...

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
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Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ...


  1. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis. "Henry David Thoreau: His Character and Opinions". Cornhill Magazine. June 1880.
  2. ^ Zacks, Richard. An Underground Education, Doubleday Publishing. 1997, p19.
  3. ^ Wagenknecht, Edward. John Greenleaf Whittier: A Portrait in Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967: 112.

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