The Journal of Henry David Thoreau

Note: an audio version of this interview aired on WGBH radio in Boston!

Henry David Thoreau is justly famous for his book Walden, which tells the story of the two years he spent living by the pond, in the Concord woods. But he also wrote a journal, which he started at age 20 in 1837, and kept up until 1861, shortly before he died. This diary of Thoreau’s daily thoughts and experiences has just been published by New York Review Books Classics, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this autumn. Edwin Frank, the editor of the series, speaks with ThoughtCast at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To watch a shorter version of this interview, go to the NY Review Books Classics blog  A Different Stripe!  And to read a review on Thoreau’s Journal by intellectual historian John Summers, click here!

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2 Responses to The Journal of Henry David Thoreau

  1. Jamie July 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    “Salinger is dead physically, but he actually died after “Catcher” was published. I mean really, one novella?”

    Fail. Salinger published Nine Stories, Franny and Zoey, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction after Catcher in the Rye.

  2. Christopher Roberts May 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Dear Whomever,

    I will have you re-thinking time immortal, plus an additional ten years, Henry David Thoreau his phony acclamation to Walden’s woods and suddenness of pastoral peace. I use phony as a nod to Holden Caulfield and because Salinger is dead physically, but he actually died after “Catcher” was published. I mean really, one novella?

    How is it that this rogue Thoreau put the careful time, planning and execution into throwing societal mores and contact to the wind and yet visited the nearby town of Concord nearly every day? The very shaking of hands, of say… the town crier, gave Thoreau his five fingers germs uncountable, so when he leaned against the sturdy oak he infected the tree with the maladies of mankind which quickly ran rampant the wide woods. I know, I am no arborist, but use this analogy figuratively.

    This monster Thoreau set his cabin verily on the edge of town! Is that what passes muster for becoming in tune with the rhythms, both pleasant and fearsome, of nature’s particular pace? Why he could plainly hear the cascade of horse and buggy’s and carriages as they quite jostled about on the rutted road. I am quite sure such sounds do not lend well to Thoreau’s “heroic” foray into a forest called solitude and his counting of time as reflected in nature’s time.

    What sort of evil madman goes to the American woods and builds himself an English cabin that is made out in plaster and shingles? It goes against the very grain (pun intended) of the all-American, throw-it-up, log cabin which is entirely more conducive to the sounds and smells of nature pouring through its ill-fitted logs. How quaint this English cabin, wrong on so many levels. Perhaps our man Thoreau was an English spy, plotting to overthrow the Stars and Bars with his army of muskrats, turtles and butterflies.

    I think I shall have to take a note from his more well thought out tome, Civil Disobedience. I will hang in a chair contraption of sorts from New York’s famed Brooklyn Bridge, no, the Golden Gate Bridge because California is more accepting of the screw loosed. I will not extricate myself until all of the Walden books are burned, no, strike that, I don’t believe in burning books unless you’re stuck in the snow blown Donner Pass. Rather better yet is to recycle them, you know and I know, but Thoreau didn’t, it’s about the whole cycle of nature and living it.

    As sincere as I can be,

    Christopher Roberts

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