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Library of America Henry David Thoreau Edition

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Walden, The Maine Woods, Cape Cod (LOA #28) by Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau: Collected Essays and Poems (LOA #124) by Henry David Thoreau

Library of America Henry David Thoreau Edition : Titles in Order

Book 2
America’s greatest nature writer and a political thinker of international renown, 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. The Library of America now brings together these indispensable works in one authoritative volume.

Spanning his entire career, the twenty-seven essays gathered here chart the range of Thoreau’s interests and the evolution of his thinking, particularly on nature and politics. They vary in style from the ambling rhythm of “Natural History of Massachusetts” and “A Winter Walk” to the concentrated moral outrage of “Slavery in Massachusetts” and “A Plea for Captain John Brown.” Included are “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau’s great exploration of the conflict between individual conscience and state power that continues to influence political thinkers and activists; “Walking,” a meditation on “wildness” and civilization; and “Life Without Principle,” a passionate critique of American materialism and conformity. Also here are literary essays, including pieces on Homer, Chaucer, and Carlyle; the travel essay “A Yankee in Canada”; speeches in defense of John Brown; and works on natural history written during the last years of Thoreau’s life, such as “The Succession of Forest Trees,” “Wild Apples,” and “Huckleberries.”

Many of the poems are presented here in versions based on Thoreau’s journal and manuscripts. Poems he excerpted for A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and Walden appear in their entirety. Included are “Sic Vita,” with Thoreau’s searching characterization of himself as “a parcel of vain strivings,” and the visionary “Inspiration.”

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 1
This Library of America edition collects for the first time in one volume the four full-length works in which Henry David Thoreau combined his poetic sensibility, classical learning, philosophical austerity, and Yankee love of practical detail into literary masterpieces on humanity’s communion with nature.

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers is based on a boat trip Thoreau took with his brother in 1839 from Concord, Massachusetts, to Concord, New Hampshire. Ten years in the writing (it was the book he retired to Walden to work on) and incorporating essays, passages from his journal, and some of his best poems, it is a superbly crafted achievement, its texture enriched by the idealism of the Transcendentalists, the delighted wordplay of an imaginative linguist, the individualism of a young America, and the earthiness of a lover of nature.

Walden is a personal declaration of independence, a social experiment, and a voyage of spiritual discovery, set within the seasonal cycle of a year’s “Life in the Woods.” “Simplify, simplify” is the beat of its “more distant drummer”—to abandon waste and illusion, to get to the bottom of life’s essential needs, and to practice a new economy for humane living. Its witty and pointed rhetoric brings together language and nature, the human and nonhuman in unusual conjunctions that resonate with symbolic meanings. A manual of self-reliance as well as a masterpiece of style, it is one of the most fervently loved classics of American literature.

The Maine Woods is an account of three trips taken by boat and canoe in 1846, 1853, and 1857 through an unexplored interior bypassed by westward expansion. It describes the virgin rivers and forests of Maine, the customs of woodsmen and Indian guides, the hunting of moose, and the effects of the timber industry and encroaching settlement. An early and eloquent plea for conservation by a farsighted naturalist, its close observation of the American wild becomes an examination of “the motives which carry men into the wilderness.”

Cape Cod is the bleakest of Thoreau’s works, resembling Melville’s prose in its vision of the titanic indifference of nature. Cape Cod appears as both ocean and desert, a vast expanse of shipwrecks and barren soil, peopled by hardy, weathered inhabitants who seem survivors from the age of the first Pilgrims. Based upon his own visits and upon accounts from the earliest times, it is an unsentimental study of human endurance in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

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