Bowdoin Reads

Rachel Dicker is reading...

The Maine Woods
by Henry David Thoreau

The Maine Woods, by Henry David Thoreau, is a classic book that I felt obliged to browse through as a resident of a large patch of woods in Northern Maine. During his several trips to Maine, Thoreau proves that, despite his plethora of inspirational quotes, he is a less than inspirational lumberjack, navigator, and boat-handler. He relies on Native Americans and local guides to drag him up and down rivers, lead him through the woods and around mountains, obtain most of his food, and cut trees for firewood, yet he still has the pluck to complain when his guide, Polis the Indian, wants to eat supper early because he’s been poling on the river all day. Despite his helplessness in the woods, Thoreau delivers the poetic and flowery writing I have come to expect from him, and the most ordinary pine trees are transformed into transcendent beings in several of his chapters. Several humorous and dramatic events take place during Thoreau’s trips into the Maine woods, and his descriptive writing about native flora and fauna are actually quite detailed and useful, making this book enjoyable to read regardless of Thoreau’s feeble attempts at braving it in the depth of the woods.

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