Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Commentary by Van Wyck Brooks and E. B. White
Naturalist, philosopher, champion of self-reliance and moral independence, Henry David Thoreau remains not only one of our most influential writers but also one of our most contemporary. This unique and comprehensive edition gathers all of Thoreau's most significant works, including his masterpiece, "Walden" (reproduced in its entirety); "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers;" selections from "Cape Cod" and "The Maine Woods; "as well as "Walking," "Civil Disobedience," "Slavery in Massachusetts," "A Plea for Captain John Brown," and "Life Without Principle." Taken together, they reveal the astounding range, subtlety, artistry, and depth of thought of this true American original.
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide.
About the Author
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, and philosopher, who is best known for his works Walden--a treatise about living in concert with the natural world--and Civil Disobedience, in which he espoused the need to morally resist the actions of an unjust state. Thoreau's work heavily reflects the ideologies of the American transcendentalists, and he has long been considered a leading figure in the movement along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and, at first, Nathaniel Hawthorne (who changed his views later in life). In addition to his writing, which totaled more than twenty volumes, Thoreau was an active abolitionist, and lectured regularly against the Fugitive Slave Law. Thoreau died in 1862, and is buried along with Louisa May Alcott, Ellery Channing, and other notable Americans in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.
Herman Melville said that Ralph Waldo Emerson possessed a "self-conceit so intensely intellectual that at first one hesitates to call it by its right name," though he later admitted Emerson was "a great man." Both were probably true. The Sage of Concord gave more than 1500 speeches in his lifetime, and Self-Reliance is probably his most important work.
"This book is like an invitation to life's dance."
--E. B. White