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Henry David Thoreau
Suggested Reading



"In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line."

Henry David Thoreau : A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod
(Robert F. Sayre, Editor)
Henry David Thoreau wrote four full-length works, collected here for the first time in a single volume. Subtly interweaving natural observation, personal experience, and historical lore, they reveal his brilliance not only as a writer, but as a naturalist, scholar, historian, poet, and philosopher. "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" is based on a boat trip taken with his brother from Concord, Massachusetts to Concord, New Hampshire. "Walden," one of America's great books, is at once a personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, manual of self-reliance, and masterpiece of style. "The Maine Woods" and "Cape Cod" portray landscapes changing irreversibly even as he wrote. The first combines close observation of the unexplored Maine wilderness with a far-sighted plea for conservation; the second is a brilliant and unsentimental account of survival on a barren peninsula in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay.

Henry David Thoreau : Collected Essays and Poems
(Elizabeth Hall Witherell, Editor)
Henry David Thoreau crafted essays that reflect his speculative and probing cast of mind. In his poems, he gave voice to his private sentiments and spiritual aspirations in the plain style of New England speech. Now, The Library of America brings together these indispensable works in one authoritative volume. The 27 essays gathered here range over all of Thoreau's concerns, from natural and literary history to the struggle against slavery, and include such masterpieces as "Civil Disobedience," his great exploration of the conflict between individual conscience and state power; "Walking," a meditation on wilderness and civilization; and "Life Without Principle," a passionate critique of American materialism and conformity. The poems collected here, some for the first time, are presented in versions often taken from Thoreau's journal and manuscripts. They reveal him as a poet whose mercurial visions are often expressed with rare precision and immediacy.

My Friend, My Friend: The Story of Thoreau's Relationship With Emerson
(Harmon D. Smith)
Henry David Thoreau was a twenty-year-old scholarship student at Harvard when he met Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837. Emerson, fourteen years Thoreau's senior and independently wealthy, had recently shaken the intellectual world of New England with the publication of Nature. Despite the disparity in their circumstances, Thoreau and Emerson quickly formed a close relationship that lasted until Thoreau's death at the age of forty-four.
This book tells the story of their friendship. Harmon Smith emphasizes their personal bond, but also shows how their relationship affected their thought and writing, and was in turn influenced by their careers.
Without Emerson's interest and support, it is unlikely that Thoreau could have expended the energy on writing that enabled him to achieve greatness. By inviting Thoreau into his home to live during two different periods in the 1840s, Emerson effectively made Thoreau "one of the family." He provided him with work, lent him money, and allowed him to build a cabin on the shore of Walden Pond. Emerson also broadened Thoreau's horizon immeasurably by introducing him to an ever-widening circle of friends and colleagues.
Although the bond between Thoreau and Emerson was strong, their needs were often greatly at variance. While this led to a prolonged period of estrangement between them, they were ultimately able to reconcile their differences. Many years after Thoreau died, Emerson could look back over his long life and say that Henry had been his best friend.
Since the thoughts and feelings of the two men are so well documented in their journals and letters, Smith is able to trace the pattern of their emotional involvement in great detail. What emerges is both a remarkable portrait of their relationship and an intimate look at the nature of friendship itself.
"Smith brings Thoreau, Emerson, and many others in their circle alive as rounded characters and sets them in the context of their times. His emphasis upon personal rather than intellectual relations between Thoreau and Emerson allows us to understand each man and his writing in a fresh way."--Shaun O'Connell, author of Imagining Boston: A Literary Landscape

Reimagining Thoreau
(Robert Milder, Author; Albert Gelpi and Ross Posnock, Editors)
Reimagining Thoreau synthesizes the interests of the intellectual and psychological biographer and the literary critic in a reconsideration of Thoreau's literary career. The aims of the book are, first, to situate Thoreau's aims and achievements as a writer within the context of his troubled relationship to the microcosm of antebellum Concord; second, to reinterpret Walden as a temporally layered text in light of the successive drafts of the book and the evidence of Thoreau's journals and contemporaneous writings; and third, to overturn traditional views of Thoreau's "decline" by offering a new estimate of the post-Walden writing and its place within his development.

The Days of Henry Thoreau
(Walter Harding)
In this widely acclaimed biography, an outstanding Thoreau scholar presents the culmination of a lifetime of research. This eminently readable work reveals Thoreauís manysidedness; famous and little-known incidents; encounters with Hawthorne, Whitman, other notables; much more. Fully corrected and enlarged by the author. Introduction. Map. Afterword. Bibliography. Index. 36 illustration.

Walden
(Henry David Thoreau)
On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into the cabin he had built on the shore of Walden Pond. Now, on the 150th anniversary of that event, Houghton Mifflin is proud to publish an exceptional new edition of what is perhaps the most important book in our history as a publisher. Walden: An Annotated Edition features the definitive text of the book with extensive notes on Thoreau's life and times by the distinguished biographer and critic Walter Harding. In the third chapter, Thoreau writes, "How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?" For many readers, Walden is that book. Written a century and a half ago, it grows more meaningful every day, and whether you are reading it for the first time or the hundredth, Walter Harding's insightful comments will open your eyes to the true depths of this masterpiece.

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