Art & Culture: The Illustrated Walden: Thoreau Bicentennial Edition  by Henry David Thoreau

In the middle of the 1840s, Henry David Thoreau spent some time in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, his friend and mentor. This is where Thoreau wrote his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

During his time on Walden Pond, Thoreau gave himself up completely to nature, determined to live simply and be self-sufficient. As he writes in the book he wrote about his experiences there:

 

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

 

Thoreau managed to suck the marrow out so efficiently that his time on Walden Pond has become synonymous with breaking away and catching your breath, something that maybe has never been as appealing a thought as it now. The publication by Tarcher Perigree of an illustrated bicenntennial edition seems fated for this moment in history. Seriously, think about it: has there ever been a time when we so desperately needed — all of us — just a little more Walden?

Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth, this is the “sumptuous rediscovery edition of the first illustrated volume of Thoreau’s classic…” This will be a welcome addition to many personal libraries, even if for no reason beyond replacing the dog-eared copy you’ve been thumbing through all these years. ◊

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