This website is a personal expression of my own deep appreciation for the superlatively eloquent prose, and the extraordinarily insightful observations, philosophies and thoughts, of 19th-century American Transcendentalist author, Henry David Thoreau, and the profound significance that he had in my choosing the rather off-the-beaten paths that I did in my youth (and beyond).
It is worth mentioning that this online web version really had it’s beginnings in the form of the main anthology in the 4-volume series of ebooks which I edited and published in 2014, The Writings of Thoreau, and which are also freely available here on this site.
What spurred that series of ebooks to fruition was a simple, fleeting desire that I had one summer’s day to go download for myself a copy of Thoreau’s Walden in ebook format, just to have handy on my tablet any time that I might have a few idle moments to while away somewhere, or whenever I might feel so inclined for a few inspiring passages from my old mentor. With the earliest print versions of his book now being in the public domain, I naturally assumed that it would be easy to find a nicely-designed free edition — but much to my genuine surprise and disappointment, there was hardly a suitable volume to be found! Certainly none that were truly representative of the merit and stature that any collection of Thoreau’s writings deserves to have, none put together with tender loving care.
And thus that series of ebooks was born. What started initially for my own self, to put together a nice version of Walden, alone, just for my own reading, I soon then added in a few of my favourites among Thoreau’s many essays as well, and so things slowly progressed until suddenly one day I discovered that it had all just rather inadvertently blossomed into the entire collection which became that series of ebooks, and which you can now find here on this website.
Currently, that series of ebooks consists of the following four volumes:
It should be noted that the texts of Thoreau’s writings that one will find used both in that series of ebooks as well as here on this website are by no means the “definitive” versions — those would unquestionably be the editions published in print over these last decades by Princeton Universtiy Press, in their The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau series. For more information about that series — which can easily be said to be the primary sources for any true scholar or fan of Thoreau — see the following web sites:
The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau
The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau
For the ebook series as well as this website, both published by myself (under the Psymon moniker), not counting a number of new, original essays, etc. that have been included the bulk of Thoreau’s own writings and those of other contemporary authors are now available in the public domain, of course. In that exact regard, a very special expression of gratitude and debt must go out to the following web sites for the digital versions of the works used, even if those only served as a launching pad to create even better versions:
American Transcendentalism Web
It should be noted that each and every digital version that I began with as a starting point used HTML coding — the “behind-the-scenes” stuff that the reader is generally not aware of (and which makes an ebook work) — which included instances of incorrect, ambiguous or out-dated (deprecated) codes, or other coding which was essentially proprietary for the use of the editorial staff of whichever organization created a particular electronic text. Thus, the initial task was to completely strip down each of these files to their bare bones, and then re-build them entirely from scratch.
In addition, there were also many passages of Thoreau’s texts which required better formatting, etc. — in particular the many different tables to be found in Walden (and elsewhere), not to mention each and every instance of poetry had to be typeset individually, line-by-line. Numerous corrections of textual errors found in the original digital sources were also made, and whenever there was any confusion over any question at hand, only the most authoritative references were used. The final texts were then compared, page-by-page, with relevant available print versions, not only in an effort to get the overall design of each and every separate work to be as true as possible to Thoreau’s own intentions, but also thematically true to each other as a whole, as a series.
As I described in the beginning of this preface, my only real goal in all of this was simply to have Thoreau’s words set down in digital format in a way that was designed with tender loving care — that is, in a way that was æsthetically-pleasing to the eye, with typography and graphic design that was reflective of the content — and I can only hope that I have done him justice in that regard, in some small way.
With that said, I must also extend a more personal thank you to certain individuals for their invaluable encouragement and assistance, firstly and by far most significantly to:
I truly couldn’t have done any of this without Ann’s enormous help! Her wealth of knowledge and generosity of time and assistance throughout these projects have truly been unequivocally invaluable, if not a veritable prerequisite for any of this having gotten off the ground at all. I just can’t begin to thank her enough for her contributions to these pages, as well as for the use of various excellent materials from her web site, amd for countless email inquiries on my part to seek clarification about so many different matters, all of which together truly helped to shape the scope and breadth of both the original ebook series as well as this website.
Also, for their constant support and often quite-decisive advisement, I must further extend my deepest and most heartfelt thanks to:
Amy Belding Brown
I also should not neglect to express my enormous gratitude to all the resident publishing gurus and tinkerers over at the MobileRead online discussion forums, for all their endless technical advice, also without which the original ebook project would never have succeeded:
And finally, I must express my thanks and appreciation to the following organizations and their staff for their contributions, both big and small, to this series as well:
The Concord Museum
The Ralph Waldo Emerson Memorial House
The Walden Soundscape
My most heartfelt thanks, once again, to one and all — I hope everyone will enjoy this rather personal, humble celebration of Henry David Thoreau.
— Ron Koster
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All original text, graphics and web deisign of this entire site