From 1837 to 1862 Thoreau wrote over two million words in his Journal, a compendium of private thoughts and experiences that ultimately filled forty-seven manuscript volumes. Its purpose and contents evolved over these years, for the Journal began as a conventional record of ideas and reflections, grew into a writer's workbook, and eventually became the principal imaginitive work of Thoreau's literary career. Source of both his published writings and several unfinished works, the Journal was also an ideal complement to Thoreau's artistic vocation; in its privacy he could write, constantly and copiously, free from the restrictions imposed by conventional editors and readers.
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