A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers


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Throeau's admirers laud him as a nature writer, and often describe this work as a "journal" recording a week's worth of river travel in Van Buren-era Massachusetts. This will not prepare you for the profound pilosophical and literary qualities found in this book.

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This is no journal. The seven days on the river are a framing device for Thoreau's extended thoughts on nature, religon, America, friendship, fish, and anything else that might cross his mind. Living as we do in an age of specialization Throeau's admirers laud him as a nature writer, and often describe this work as a "journal" recording a week's worth of river travel in Van Buren-era Massachusetts. Living as we do in an age of specialization, it is humbling to read the work of a man who could comfortably discuss at great length Hinduism, colonial history, Classical poetry, the operation of canal locks, etc.

Thoreau also includes plenty of exquisite decriptions of nature, which reveal him to have a true poetic soul on top of everything else. His thoughts on local history are especially interesting. The US is often derided as a "young" country, but Throeau reminds us that Englishmen had already been living along the Concord River for years at the time he made his journey.

Often the history is fantastically detailed, a reflection of the extent to which the settling of America was a matter of one family going 10 miles farther inland than the last. Thoreau appears to have worked harder on this book than any of his others. He worked on it for 10 years including the 2 he spent at Walden. He unsuccessfully self-published it, causing him to famously quip that he had a library containing volumes, of which he was the author of In other words, this book is central to understanding Thoreau as an author.

Jan 19, Cameron rated it really liked it. Jun 26, Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing. John Thoreau subsequently died of lockjaw in , a death which greatly affected his brother. While living at Walden Pond from , Thoreau worked on the manuscript of what became "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", and the book was first published, with little commercial succes A Week With Thoreau In late August, , Henry David Thoreau and his brother John took a two-week trip on the Concord and Merrimack rivers in a boat called the Musketaquid that they had built themselves.

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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

While living at Walden Pond from , Thoreau worked on the manuscript of what became "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", and the book was first published, with little commercial success in A revised edition was published after Thoreau's death. The brothers spent one week on land exploring Concord, New Hampshire and its environs, and this is not described in the book.


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At the time of the journey Lowell was already a manufacturing center where girls from New England farms lived in large barracks and worked long hours spinning cotton in factories powered by the Merrimack River. I was familiar with "Walden", but I didn't know this earlier book of Thoreau's. It is a wonderful read. The book is arranged in seven chapters, one for each day of the river journey, and Thoreau describes extensively the rivers and inlets, the land, the plants and animals, the weather, the locks and the people that they encountered on their journey.

Thoreau here and elsewhere has a clear and detailed eye for nature. But the more fascinating part of this book consists of its extended digressions and discussions that are only suggested by the description of the brothers' journey. Thoreau uses the river trip as a jumping-off point for meditations on history, science, literature, education, philosophy, religion, and much else. There is information on the early settlements of Concord and Lowell and of New England, especially involving contact with the Indian tribes. Even with this, most of the book is internalized.

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On almost every page, Thoreau's text is interspersed with poetry, some of it his own, some by other writers. Thoreau discusses the ancient Greek writers, including Homer and the Greek lyricists, as well as writers including Shakespeare and Goethe. There are long meditations on subjects such as the nature of friendship.


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  • Thoreau discusses comparative religion and turns a critical eye on the Puritanical religion of New England. The book shows a great fascination with and knowledge of Eastern thought, which is striking for this time in America's history, particularly with the Bhagavad-Gita. Near the end of the book, capturing the end of his trip, Thoreau assumes an oratorical tone and his work takes on a philosophical theme. Although the American philosophy of Transcendentalism is notoriously difficult to define, Thoreau here discusses a world beyond the world of our senses and of nature.

    He alludes to a world of the timeless and of mysticism, which encompasses all religion, and which the evidence of the senses only suggests to us. It is a difficult and inspiring vision, informed greatly by Eastern thought and by Thoreau's friendship with Emerson. The discussion forms a moving conclusion to the book. With its learning, its love of poetry, its picture of early New England, and its spirituality, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" is one of the great American books.

    For readers who know Thoreau only, as I did, through "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience,", this book will be a revelation. Aug 07, Dan Graser rated it it was amazing. If you're considering reading Thoreau you know what you're about to experience and this is some of the most beautiful prose and poetic verse written by an American. Lo importante n Henry David Thoreau. Dios no ha creado a los hombres a su imagen y semejanza: Seguramente esta frase resume perfectamente la idea del escritor de su escritura.

    Lanzarse a los caminos, a los bosques, al espacio. Apr 15, Amy rated it liked it. This book reads in many ways like "Walden. It reads in some ways like journal entries. Those who value "Walden" will find much of the same here. Jun 28, Maarten Van doorn rated it it was ok Shelves: Not what I expected. Too much babbling on, without really saying interesting stuff. Of course, such a style was to be expected in a book like this, but this book has a too unfavourable information to noise ratio for my taste.

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    Already started on Walden, much better so far! Oct 21, Hal Brodsky rated it liked it Shelves: I did highlight some good quotes to look back on later. I liked the parts about the actual boat trip, though after reading it, I have serious doubts that he actually took the trip from Concord MA to Concord NH by boat.


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    • In this book his writing style seems to wander around temporarily, he frequently repeats actual phrases and themes, he copied text directly from other sources without giving credit, and his rhetoric was often nonsense making for difficult read and an incoherent story. Not a narrative, per se, but a number of meditations loosely tied to each day of the week. May 16, Edward rated it really liked it. This account of a trip he and his older brother took in l when he was 22 is even lacking in chronology as much of an organizing principle.

      They built a boat, drifted down the Concord River to its confluence with the Merrimack River , oared up the Merrimack through frequent locks to its source, and then returned home, this time often putting up sails as they went down the Merrimack and up the Concord to where they began. Along the way, Thoreau of course describes the rivers, their traffic, who they meet and what they observe along their banks, but at any moment Thoreau is apt to engage in long riffs on whatever subject interests him with no apparent connection with his surroundings.

      He recounts the wilderness, years before his time, full of hostile Indians, and of course reading the book years after Thoreau, the changes would be similarly unrecognizable. I cut another furrow than you see.

      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau

      It is a clear sky. A man is wise, then, if he can appreciate the beauty and order of nature. We are comparatively deaf and dumb and blind without smell or taste or feeling. Apr 28, Joy Barr rated it it was ok Shelves: On pages , Thoreau hears dog barks while he is so far out in the middle of nowhere. He considers this "more impressive than any music," which is very surprising to me because this is certainly a marker of man. In the wilderness, Thoreau is interested in humans, not just nature. Is Thoreau conside Some questions: Is Thoreau considering "animals" as nature?

      If so, does he consider humans animals? What is up with the strange and awkward stare down on page 63? The young men on a bridge were interested in what Thoreau and his brother were doing, but Thoreau stared one of them down until the guy "was visibly discomfited. What was the problem?

      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau - Free Ebook

      The river was not too heavily traveled and they were obviously travelers, not carrying merchandise. The men were justified in their curiosity. The book's first draft was completed while Thoreau was living at Walden Pond — He was unable to find a publisher, however, and therefore had it published at his own expense. A slightly revised version of A Week , based on corrections Thoreau had made himself, was published in , six years after his death.

      While the book may appear to be a travel journal, broken up into chapters for each day, this is deceptive. The actual trip took two weeks and while given passages are a literal description of the journey — from Concord, Massachusetts, down the Concord River to the Middlesex Canal , to the Merrimack River , up to Concord, New Hampshire, and back — much of the text is in the form of digressions by the Harvard -educated author on diverse topics such as religion, poetry, and history.

      Thoreau relates these topics to his own life experiences, often in the context of the rapid changes taking place in his native New England during the Industrial Revolution , changes that Thoreau often laments. An additional voice part is found in the last movement, setting All Things Are Current Found , the last poem of the book.

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      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
      A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

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