The Journal: 1837-1861

The Journal: 1837-1861

Paperback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) Henry David Thoreau, Edited by Damion Searls, Foreword by Damion Searls, Preface by John R. Stilgoe

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  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 704 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 204mm x 32mm | 699g
  • Publication date: 24 November 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 159017321X
  • ISBN 13: 9781590173213
  • Edition statement: Original
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 71,054

Product description

Henry David Thoreau s "Journal" was his life s work: the daily practice of writing that accompanied his daily walks, the workshop where he developed his books and essays, and a project in its own right one of the most intensive explorations ever made of the everyday environment, the revolving seasons, and the changing self. It is a treasure trove of some of the finest prose in English and, for those acquainted with it, its prismatic pages exercise a hypnotic fascination. Yet at roughly seven thousand pages, or two million words, it remains Thoreau s least-known work. This reader s edition, the largest one-volume edition of Thoreau s "Journal" ever published, is the first to capture the scope, rhythms, and variety of the work as a whole. Ranging freely over the world at large, the Journal is no less devoted to the life within. As Thoreau says, It is in vain to write on the seasons unless you have the seasons in you. "

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Author information

Henry David Thoreau (1817 1862) was born and lived the greater part of his life in Concord, Massachusetts. He studied at Harvard, where he became a disciple of Emerson, and after graduating in 1837 returned to Concord to teach school with his brother. In Concord, he became acquainted with the members of the Transcendentalist Club and grew especially close to Emerson, for whom he worked as a handyman. Thoreau also began to write for "The Dial" and other magazines, and in 1839 he made the boat trip that became the subject of his first book, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" (1849). On July 4, 1845, he moved into the hut he d constructed on Walden Pond, where he remained until September 6, 1847 a sojourn that inspired his great work Walden, published in 1854. In the 1850s, Thoreau became increasingly active in the abolitionist cause, meeting John Brown at Emerson s house in 1857 and, after the attack on Harpers Ferry, writing passionately in Brown s defense. Short trips to Maine and Cape Cod resulted in two post humously published books ("The Maine Woods" and "Cape Cod"), and a visit to New York led to a meeting with Walt Whitman. Suffering from tuberculosis, Thoreau traveled to the Great Lakes for the sake of his health, but finding no improvement and realizing that he was going to die, returned home to Concord to put his papers in order and to write his final essays, drawing as always on the "Journal," the work that was the source of all his other works and the defining undertaking of his adult life. Damion Searls is the author of "Everything You Say Is True," a travelogue, and "What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going," stories. He is also an award-winning translator from German, French, Norwegian, and Dutch, most recently of Rainer Maria Rilke s "The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams "and Marcel Proust s "On Reading." He has produced an experimental edition of Herman Melville s "Moby-Dick," called; "or The Whale," and his translation of the Dutch writer Nescio s stories is forthcoming from NYRB Classics. John R. Stilgoe is the author of many books and the Robert and Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard University."

Review quote

"It is the unflagging beauty of the writing, day after day, that confirms its greatness among writers' journals. It is not natural for a man to write this well every day. Only a man who had no other life but to practice a particularly intense and truthful kind of prose could have done it-a man for whom all walks finally came to an end in the hard athletic sentence that would recover all their excitement." -Alfred Kazin "[Thoreau was gifted] with an extraordinary keenness of the senses; he could see and hear what other men could not; his touch was so delicate that he could pick up a dozen pencils accurately from a box holding a bushel; he could find his way alone through thick woods at night. He could lift a fish out of the stream with his hands; he could charm a wild squirrel to nestle in his coat; he could sit so still that the animals went on with their play round him. . . . At times he seems to reach beyond our human powers in what he perceives upon the horizon of humanity. . . . Thoreau defined his own position to the world not only with unflinching honesty, but with a glow of rapture at his heart. . . . [All his books] are packed with subtle, conflicting, and very fruitful discoveries. . . . And now we have a chance of getting to know Thoreau as few people are known, even by their friends." -Virginia Woolf