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Walden is a book by American transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau. The text is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and—to some degree—a manual for self-reliance.

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Walden is the product of the two years and two months Thoreau lived in semi-isolation by Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. He built a small cabin on land owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson and was almost totally self-sufficient, growing his own vegetables and doing odd jobs. It was his intention at Walden Pond to live simply and have time to contemplate, walk in the woods, write, and commune with nature. As he explained, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” The resulting book is a series of essays, or meditations, beginning with “Economy,” in which he discussed his experiment and included a detailed account of the construction (and cost) of his cabin. Thoreau extolled the benefits of literature in “Reading,” though in the following essay, “Sounds,” he noted the limits of books and implored the reader to live mindfully, “being forever on the alert” to the sounds and sights in his or her own life. “Solitude” praised the friendliness of nature, which made the “fancied advantages of human neighborhood insignificant.” Later essays included “Visitors,” “Higher Laws,” “Winter Animals,” and “Spring.”

Move to Walden Pond of Henry David Thoreau

Back in Concord Thoreau rejoined his family’s business, making pencils and grinding graphite. By early 1845 he felt more restless than ever, until he decided to take up an idea of a Harvard classmate who had once built a waterside hut in which one could read and contemplate. In the spring Thoreau picked a spot by Walden Pond, a small glacial lake located 2 miles (3 km) south of Concord on land Emerson owned.

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Early in the spring of 1845, Thoreau, then 27 years old, began to chop down tall pines with which to build the foundations of his home on the shores of Walden Pond. From the outset the move gave him profound satisfaction. Once settled, he restricted his diet for the most part to the fruits and vegetables he found growing wild and the beans he planted. When not busy weeding his bean rows and trying to protect them from hungry groundhogs or occupied with fishing, swimming, or rowing, he spent long hours observing and recording the local flora and fauna, reading, and writing A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849). He also made entries in his journals, which he later polished and included in Walden. Much time, too, was spent in meditation.

Walden Quotes Showing

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“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

tags: truthvalues

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

tags: companionscompanyprivacysolitude

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

tags: aspirationscastles-in-the-airdreamsfoundationsfutilitygoalssecuritywork-lost

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

tags: books

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

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