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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers: Thoreau's first book

by Thoreau, Henry David

  • Used
  • Fine
  • Hardcover
  • first
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About This Item

First edition of Thoreau's first book – 1000 copies published at his own expense of which only 550 were bound - less than 300 were sold or given away by the publisher and Thoreau, and in 1853 the remainder was returned to him whereupon he hauled it up to his attic and sarcastically bemoaned the dismal sales. Top edge uncut. Minor wear to spine ends, minor sporadic foxing, lettering at spine foot rubbed off(a common occurrence with the wispy spine cloth), else a Fine, crisp copy with bright gilt. Scarce in this condition, even 100 years ago when this copy sold at auction.

Ex-Jacob Chester Chamberlain, famed turn of the century collector with three lines of text dropped by the publisher penciled in his hand on page 396, along with his acquisition slip from another noted collector, Beverly Chew of the Grolier Club in New York City. Housed in an amazing contemporary custom pull off case with elaborate tooling, commissioned by Chamberlain, as was his custom for many of his most fantastic books. Sold at Anderson's 1st Editions of Ten American Authors Chamberlain auction of 1909 along with a myriad of rarities. Dead at 45 in 1905, Chamberlain amassed a par excellence collection of American literature - he held a magical wonderment for the choicest pieces.

"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. Thoreau interweaves descriptions of natural phenomena, the rural landscape, and local characters with digressions on literature and philosophy, the Native American and Puritan histories of New England, the Bhagavad Gita, the imperfections of Christianity, and many other subjects. 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."(Princeton)

This copy also contains two contemporary ownership signatures - most interestingly one of a Roswell Foster - a reverend in the Concord/general New England area and a contemporary of Thoreau. A few notes in the book about landmarks would point to Foster's hand or at least someone else with intimate knowledge of the areas Thoreau traversed with his brother.

Quite simply, a wonderful copy of a beautiful classic by an American legend.


Originally published: 1849. "The definitive text as approved by the Center for Editions of American Authors of the Modern Language Association of America"--Cover, p. [4]. Includes index.


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Anniroc Rare Books US (US)
Bookseller's Inventory #
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Thoreau, Henry David
Book Condition
Used - Fine
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James Munroe & Company
Place of Publication
Date Published
0.00 lbs

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About the Seller

Anniroc Rare Books

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Pasadena, California
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