A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers is a book by Henry David Thoreau, first published in 1849. The book is ostensibly the narrative of a boat trip from Concord, Massachusetts to Concord, New Hampshire and back Thoreau had taken with his brother John in 1839. As John had died from tetanus in 1842, Thoreau wrote the book as a tribute to his memory.[1]


The book's first draft was completed while Thoreau was living at Walden Pond. Upon completing the book, Thoreau was unable to find a publisher willing to publish it, and so had it published at his own expense.[1] Few copies of the book sold, and Thoreau was left with several hundred extra copies, and put into debt. A slightly revised version of the book, based on corrections Thoreau had made himself, was published in 1868, six years after his death.

While the book may appear to be a travel journal, broken up into chapters for each day, the book is rarely about that topic, as the actual trip took two weeks. While given passages are a literal description of the journey from Concord, Massachusetts, down the Concord River to the Middlesex Canal, to the Merrimack River, up to Concord, New Hampshire, and back, much of the text is in the form of digressions by the Harvard-educated author on diverse topics such as religion, poetry, and history. Thoreau relates these topics back to his own life experiences, often framed by the rapid changes taking place in his native New England during the Industrial Revolution, often changes that Thoreau laments.


  1. ^ a b "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers". Princeton University Press. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 

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