The core of Digital Thoreau will be a TEI-encoded text of Walden enriched by scholarly annotations, links, images, and social tools that enable users to create conversations around the text.

The annotations from Walden: An Annotated Edition, edited by Thoreau biographer Walter Harding, together with digital assets from the the Thoreau Society’s Harding Collection (curated by the Thoreau Institute Library at The Walden Woods Project) provide a base layer of context on which future layers will be built.

Digital Thoreau’s Walden will differ from every available print version by incorporating all seven draft stages of the work, which was begun during Thoreau’s two-year experiment in deliberative living at Walden Pond (1845-7) but not published until 1854. Based on Ronald E. Clapper’s pioneering scholarship on the manuscript variants – The Development of Walden: A Genetic Text – Digital Thoreau’s critical apparatus of Walden will permit users to compare manuscript versions side by side and track Thoreau’s changes across versions. In addition, it will enable users to compare the transcribed manuscript versions to digital images of the manuscript leaves themselves. The social tools in Digital Thoreau will make it possible for readers to improve the transcriptions’ accuracy.

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