Henry David Thoreau
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Recent Books

Ever since the sesquicentennial of Thoreau's masterwork in '04, a wave of “anniversary” Waldens and a tide of Thoreau studies has surged. The Thoreau Project recommends:


Excursions (two editions)

Thoreau, we know, was partial to the “excursion,” the voyage out and back – not only as a mode of exploring the world but also as a form of essay writing.

Excursions is the title of a collection of essays on travel and nature, edited after the author’s death by his sister Sophia Thoreau with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and first published in 1863. It was popular with readers at the time and is a classic today, culminating with Thoreau’s masterly essays on sauntering and seeing: “Walking” and “Autumnal Tints.”

It so happens that two editions, scholarly and popular, of Excursions came out in 2007:

Excursions. The latest volume in Princeton U. Press’s ongoing Thoreau Edition, edited by Joseph J. Moldenhauer. Read about it here. But first, bookmark this page so you can return here.


Excursions. The latest volume in the Travel Classics series from Anthem Press – no notes, but a foreword by Jeffrey S. Cramer of the Thoreau Institute. Read about it here. But first, bookmark this page so you can return here.


More by Thoreau

Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition. Edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer. Yale UP, 2004. (Paperback without the notes, 2006)   "There is nothing like this - within the covers of one book - in the world of Thoreau scholarship. The book is fascinating ... accurate and minute in its scholarship... a Thoreau encyclopedia in one volume!"
-Joel Porte
Special essay on this website.

The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Walden Anniversary Paperback Series, five volumes, Princeton UP, 2004. Reviewed on this website.

Walden: 150th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the American Classic. With 89 color photographs by Scot Miller. Foreword by E. O. Wilson. Houghton Mifflin, 2004, 288pp, ISBN: 0618457178

Walden: One Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. Foreword by Terry Tempest Williams. Illustrated by Michael McCurdy. Shambhala, 2004, 320pp. ISBN: 159030088.
"Shambhala's hardcover edition is bejeweled by forty-nine striking woodcuts by Michael McCurdy, visual aids to contemplation. Terry Tempest Williams's foreword... hones in on the double metaphor of emancipation in Thoreau's writing: It 'was not only to be extended to the freedom of slaves, but to the freedom of one's own soul. '"
- Richard Higgins, UUWorld, Jul-Aug 2004

Henry D. Thoreau: Letters to a Spiritual Seeker. Edited by Bradley P. Dean. Norton, 2004, 266 pp, ISBN: 0393059413.
Around 1848, Harrison Blake, the seeker of the title, asked Thoreau for guidance in finding a path of his own after leaving the ministry. The result was a regular exchange of letters for the remaining thirteen years of Thoreau's life. Now all fifty letters are collected in a single volume, edited and annotated by Thoreau scholar Bradley P. Dean.
"I open this book at random and find daily strength in Thoreau’s words that gives me courage in times of terror.  His letters are wonderfully human, honest, full of questions, revelations, and struggle.  It is not the polished Henry we have come to know and expect, but the social Henry, the communal Thoreau."
- Terry Tempest Williams, author of Leap and The Open Space of Democracy

I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau. Ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven: Yale U. Press, 2007. 528 p. hardcover (ISBN 030011172X).

My Thoughts are Murder to the State: Thoreau’s Essays on Political Philosophy. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace, 2007. 184 p. papercover (ISBN 1434804267). Published by Amazon’s “on demand” series.

Walden, “Civil Disobedience” and Other Writings. 3rd ed. Ed. William John Rossi. New York & London: W. W. Norton, 2007. 320 p. papercover (ISBN 0393930904).


Recent Works About Thoreau

François Specq,  Transcendence: Seers and Seekers in the Age of Thoreau. Casts new light upon the Transcendentalist writers who challenged traditional forms of thought and expression. In a time of deepening social divisions, they appealed to the idea of transcendence and “higher law,” opening historic paths to a more inclusive democracy and a spiritual rebirth of the individual. Order it now!

Paul Friedrich, The Gita within "Walden" (2009). A fascinating exploration of the interconnections between Walden and the Bhagavad-Gita. The author is a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Chicago.

Elise Lemire, Black Walden: Slavery and Its Aftermath in Concord (2009). "An elegantly researched, deeply insightful, and eminently readable history of the embattled black families in New England's most celebrated town from the Revolutionary era to the heyday of the Transcendentalists." -Lawrence Buell

Sandra H. Petrulionis, To Set This World Right: The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau's Concord (2006). "The finest and most detailed account of the essential role played by women in the grassroots effort to promote the cause of antislavery ...describes the activities of the women in the Thoreau and Emerson households, who eventually persuaded Thoreau and Emerson to lend their powerful voices to the controversial cause." -Len Gougeon, U. of Scranton/

Shoji Goto, The Philosophy of Emerson and Thoreau: Orientals Meet Occidentals (2007). Foreword by Phyllis Cole. Takes issue with the Western-centric orientation of most studies of Emerson and Thoreau. Argues persuasively that transcendentalism may be re-imagined as an original American philosophy forged from non-Western elements. Emerson journeyed outside traditional Western thought-forms in search of a unifying foundation for a wholly new belief system; many authoritative editions of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" omit one sentence pointing to the influence of Confucian political theory. Reviewed on this web site. 

(Illustration in the book below: Game Board, about 1860, by Sophia E. Thoreau [Henry's sister], pasteboard, paper, & fern specimens)

David F. Wood, An Observant Eye: The Thoreau Collection at the Concord Museum. Concord MA: The Concord Museum 2006. 160 p. hardcover (ISBN 0965414523). Reviewed on this web site.

W. Barksdale Maynard. Walden Pond: A History. NY: Oxford UP, 2004. 416 pp., illustrated. Reviewed on this web site.   "Scrupulously documented ... a truly wonderful and accessible narrative."
- Ed Schofield, Thoreau Society Bulletin 246

Michael Sperber, M.D. Henry David Thoreau: Cycles and Psyche. Higganum Hill Books (Conn.), 2004.
Elegantly written and filled with surprising insights... adds a new chapter to our understanding of Thoreau." -Alan A. Stone, M.D., Professor of Law and Psychiatry, Harvard University

Alan D, Hodder. Thoreau's Ecstatic Witness. New Haven: Yale UP, 2001. 346pp. Reviewed on this web site.  "What if Thoreau's transcendent vision were so vital and pervasive that it could be detected nearly everywhere – in virtually any of Thoreau’s works, informing both content and style? That is the premise of this lucid study."
- Randall Conrad, Thoreau Society Bulletin 241

Ian Marshall. Peak Experiences: Walking Meditations on Literature, Nature, and Need (Under the Sign of Nature). UP of Virginia, 2003, 267 pp. ISBN: 0813921678.
"Ian Marshall...  is another modern pilgrim... a funny English professor, avid hiker, Thoreau freak, and, despite being a practitioner of literary ecocriticism, an extremely fine writer. Marshall thinks about metaphorical mountains while climbing real ones, including the peak that Thoreau, in a letter to Blake, said he keeps anchored in his mind and which he 'ascends in my dreams, both awake and asleep.'"
- Richard Higgins, UUWorld, Jul-Aug 2004


Works for Young Readers ...on our "Teaching Thoreau" page

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Updated Feb. 20, 2010