Monday, November 14, 2005

If I could take only a few books along...

. . . onto a deserted island, I'd include Thoreau's Walden Pond.

But I'd request the luxury of taking along the three major annotated editions:

Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition, edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer (2004)

Walden: An Annotated Edition, edited by Walter Harding (1995)

The Annotated Walden, edited by Philip Van Doren Stern (1970, 1992)

Corinne H. Smith, a reviewer at, suggests that:

"Lining up the three versions side by side is an interesting experiment, best conducted on a rainy summer day when no other work has appeal."
Assuming that my deserted island enjoys rainy summer days -- and thus isn't the desert island usually referred to in a which-books-would-you-take scenario -- then I would do this, too.


Why, to read in parallel the textual notes, scholarly additions clarifying the obscure and, sometimes, obscuring the clear (thereby necessitating notes to the notes).

Okay, I'm a bit obsessive.

For those of you who share my obsession, check out this annotated Walden from the cyberlibrary of Babel:

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

Bookmark it for a rainy day.


At 7:23 AM, Blogger Dennis Mangan said...

"Walden" has has an almost incalculable effect on me. I discovered it in college, and I've read it four times through. (I'm about due for another.) Walden made me see life, I won't say entirely differently, but in a way that accorded with my true but unarticulated thoughts.

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I recall your having mentioned living in a cabin in the woods . . . like Thoreau.

I can't say that Thoreau has affected me that profoundly, but he's had some effect.

I first read Walden in high school, as the urging of my English teacher, then again in university, twice -- once for a professor's class, the other time on my own.

I even read his book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers -- on my own after becoming more interested in Thoreau. Then, I wrote a forgettable term paper on him.

I need to re-read him sometime and publish an article since that has turned to be the best way for me to immerse myself in a writer's thoughts.


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