A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

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Autobiographical narrative by Thoreau, published in 1849. It was written, mainly during the period described in Walden, from earlier journal entries, poems, and essays. The narrative describes seven days in a small boat during a trip (Aug. 31–Sept. 13, 1839) which the author made with his brother John to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. From the description of the homemade dory, which was “painted green below, with a border of blue, with reference to the two elements in which it was to spend its existence,” to the account of New Hampshire people, the book maintains a certain air of romantic adventure, but the travel narrative is subordinated to learned digressions into history, religion, and philosophy; poetry; discussions of literary classics; and such Emersonian essays as the one on friendship. Some of the passages have been frequently quoted, for Thoreau's style was already fully developed, and was said by Lowell to have “an antique purity.” During the author's lifetime, the book was not popular. Later editors, like H. S. Canby, have given it a more compact form by eliminating “indoor additions.”

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Henry David Thoreau (1817—1862) American essayist and poet

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