Henry D. Thoreau's classic "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack
Rivers" is published now as a new paperback edition and includes an
introduction by noted writer John McPhee. This work--unusual for
its symbolism and structure, its criticism of Christian
institutions, and its many-layered storytelling--was Thoreau's
first published book.
In the late summer of 1839, Thoreau and his older brother John
made a two-week boat-and-hiking trip from Concord, Massachusetts,
to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After John's sudden death
in 1842, Thoreau began to prepare a memorial account of their
excursion. He wrote two drafts of this story at Walden Pond, which
he continued to revise and expand until 1849, when he arranged for
its publication at his own expense. The book's heterodoxy and
apparent formlessness troubled its contemporary audience. Modern
readers, however, have come to see it as an appropriate predecessor
to "Walden," with Thoreau's story of a river journey depicting the
early years of his spiritual and artistic growth.
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