Walden; or, Life in the Woods

by Henry David Thoreau

Walden; or, Life in the Woods

Walden (also known as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s life for two years, two months, and two days in second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond, on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, not far from his friends and family in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden was written so that the stay appears to be a year, with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau called it an experiment in simple living. Thoreau lived in close geographical proximity to the town Concord: “living a mile from any neighbor,” should be taken literally; he lived about a mile from his neighbors. He did not go into the woods to become a hermit, but to isolate himself from civil society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Walden is neither a novel nor a true autobiography, but a social critique of much of the contemporary Western World, with its consumerist attitudes and its distance from and destruction of nature.

Source: Thoreau,H. D. (1854). Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Boston, MA: Ticknor and Fields.

Thoreau attempts to illustrate the benefits of a simplified lifestyle.
Where I Lived, and What I Lived For
Thoreau remembers the many different locations he surveyed before settling at Walden Pond.
Thoreau discusses classic literature and its benefits.
Thoreau describes the many sounds that can be heard from his cabin.
Thoreau contemplates the benefits of solitary living.
Thoreau describes the many visitors who have entered his home.
The Bean-Field
Thoreau goes through great labors to grow his field of beans.
The Village
In order to stay up on current affairs, Thoreau visits Concord on a regular basis.
The Ponds
Thoreau observes and documents the geography of Walden Pond as well as other neighboring bodies of water.
Baker Farm
After being caught in a rainstorm, Thoreau takes shelter in a neighbor's home.
Higher Laws
Thoreau explores the moral complexities of hunting.
Brute Neighbors
Thoreau discusses the the many wild animals that are present at Walden Pond, including two warring colonies of ants.
Thoreau prepares for winter.
Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors
More visitors arrive at Walden Pond during the winter.
Winter Animals
Thoreau observes the winter wildlife at Walden Pond.
The Pond in Winter
Thoreau continues to describe winter in Walden Pond.
With the arrival of spring, Thoreau finally departs from Walden Pond.
Thoreau concludes the work by criticizing conformity in society.
  • Year Published: 1854
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 10.5
  • Word Count: 112,168
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Keywords: nature, self reliance
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