Annotations for Walden and Civil Disobedience


Baker & Taylor
Thoreau describes his two-year residence at Walden Pond in a small house of his own construction, where he thought about personal freedom, individualism, materialism, and social conscience

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Penguin Putnam
The two defining works of a transcendentalist master

Disdainful of America's booming commercialism and industrialism, Henry David Thoreau left Concord, Massachusetts, in 1845 to live in solitude in the woods near Walden Pond. Walden, the account of his stay, conveys at once a naturalist's wonder at the commonplace and a Transcendentalist's yearning for spiritual truth and self-reliance. But even as Thoreau disentangled himself from worldly matters, his musings were often disturbed by his social conscience. Civil Disobedience, also included in this volume, expresses his antislavery and antiwar sentiments, and has influenced non-violent resistance movements worldwide. Both give a rewarding insight into a free-minded, principled and idiosyncratic man.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Random House, Inc.
'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 he hears, however measured or far away.' Disdainful of America's growing commercialism and industrialism, Henry David Thoreau left Concord, Massachusetts, in 1845 to live in solitude in the woods by Walden Pond. Walden, the classic account of his stay there, conveys at once a naturalist's wonder at the commonplace and a Transcendentalist's yearning for spiritual truth and self-reliance. But even as Thoreau disentangled himself from worldly matters, his solitary musings were often disturbed by his social conscience.'Civil Disobedience', expressing his antislavery and antiwar sentiments, has influenced nonviolent resistance movements worldwide. Michael Meyer's introduction points out that Walden is not so much an autobiographical study as a 'shining example' of Transcendental individualism. So, too, 'Civil Disobedience' is less a call to political activism than a statement of Thoreau's insistence on living a life of principle.

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