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Spring Time Renewal in Walden Book Mckibben Edition

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First published in 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s groundbreaking book has influenced generations of readers and continues to inspire and inform anyone with an open mind, a love of nature, and a longing for simplicity and contemplation

Bill McKibben provides a newly revised introduction and helpful annotations that place Thoreau firmly in his role as cultural and spiritual seer. This beautiful edition of Walden, published in honor of the bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth, is more accessible and relevant than ever in an age of technological change and ecological crisis.

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With the coming of April, the ice begins to melt from Walden Pond, creating a thunderous roar in which Thoreau delights. Thoreau mentions an old man he knows—whose wisdom, Thoreau says, he could not rival if he lived to be as old as Methuselah—who was struck with terror by the crash of the melting ice despite his long experience with the ways of nature. Thoreau describes it as a kind of universal meltdown, heralding total change. The sand moves with the flowing rivulets of water. Buds and leaves appear. Wild geese fly overhead, trumpeting through the heavens

Thoreau feels that old grudges should be abandoned and old sins forgiven in this time of renewed life. Inspired by the arrival of good weather, Thoreau takes to fishing again. He admires a graceful, solitary hawk circling overhead. He senses the throb of universal life and spiritual upheaval, and meditates that death in such an atmosphere can have no sting. His mission completed, Thoreau leaves Walden Pond on September 6, 1847.Thoreau notes that doctors often recommend a change of scenery for the sick, but he slyly mocks this view, saying that the “universe is wider than our views of it.” He argues that it is perhaps a change of soul, rather than a change of landscape, that is needed. Thoreau remarks that his reasons for leaving Walden Pond are as good as his reasons for going: he has other lives to live, and has changes to experience. He says that anyone confidently attempting to live “in the direction of his dreams” will meet with uncommon success, and calls this dream life the real destination that matters, not going off “to count the cats in Zanzibar.” He laments the downgraded sensibility and cheapened lives of contemporary Americans, wondering why his countrymen are in such a desperate hurry to succeed. He urges us to sell our fancy clothes and keep our thoughts, get rid of our civilized shells and find our truer selves. Life near the bone, says Thoreau, “is sweetest.” Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only, and “[m]oney is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.” He reflects on the dinner parties taking place in the city, the amusing anecdotes about California and Texas, and compares it all to a swamp where one must seek the rock bottom by oneself. Thoreau reflects that we humans do not know where we are and that we are asleep half the time. This puny existence leads him to describe himself as “me the human insect,” and to meditate on the “greater Benefactor and Intelligence” that stands over him.

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To sum up, Thoreau believes that, paradoxically, nature can be a model both for mankind's solitude—as in the hawk—and for its society—as in the seasonal changes, in which all is forgiven and brought together. Nature is the source of life and in it miracles can be witnessed.

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