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  • Published: 15 November 1983
  • ISBN: 9780940450158
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1150
  • RRP: $59.99

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Essays




Our most eloquent champion of individualism, Emerson acknowledges at the same time the countervailing pressures of society in American life. Even as he extols what he called “the great and crescive self,” he dramatizes and records its vicissitudes.

Here are all the indispensable and most renowned works, including “The American Scholar” (“our intellectual Declaration of Independence,” as Oliver Wendell Holmes called it), “The Divinity School Address,” considered atheistic by many of his listeners, the summons to “Self-Reliance,” along with the more embattled realizations of “Circles” and, especially, “Experience.” Here, too, are his wide-ranging portraits of Montaigne, Shakespeare, and other “representative men,” and his astute observations on the habits, lives, and prospects of the English and American people.

This volume includes Emerson’s well-known Nature; Addresses, and Lectures (1849), his Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), plus Representative Men (1850), English Traits (1856), and his later book of essays, The Conduct of Life (1860). These are the works that established Emerson’s colossal reputation in America and found him admirers abroad as diverse as Carlyle, Nietzsche, and Proust. The reasons for Emerson’s influence and durability will be obvious to any reader who follows the exhilarating, exploratory movements of his mind in this uniquely full gathering of his work.

Not merely another selection of his essays, this volume includes all his major books in their rich entirety. No other volume conveys so comprehensively the exhilaration and exploratory energy of perhaps America’s greatest writer.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

  • Published: 15 November 1983
  • ISBN: 9780940450158
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1150
  • RRP: $59.99

About the author

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Date: 2013-08-06
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803­-1882) was a renowned lecturer and writer, whose ideas on philosophy, religion, and literature influenced many writers, including Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. After an undergraduate career at Harvard, he studied at Harvard Divinity School and became an ordained minister, continuing a long line of ministers in his family. He traveled widely and lectured, and became well known for his publications Essays and Nature.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the son of a Unitarian minister and a chaplain during the American Revolution, was born in 1803 in Boston. He attended the Boston Latin School, and in 1817 entered Harvard, graduating in 1820. Emerson supported himself as a schoolteacher from 1821-26. In 1826 he was 'approbated to preach,' and in 1829 became pastor of the Scond Church (Unitarian) in Boston. That same year he married Ellen Louise Tucker, who was to die of tuberculosis only seventeen months later.

In 1832 Emerson resigned his pastorate and traveled to Eurpe, where he met Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Carlyle. He settled in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1834, where he began a new career as a public lecturer, and married Lydia Jackson a year later. A group that gathered around Emerson in Concord came to be known as 'the Concord school,' and included Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller.

Every year Emerson made a lecture tour; and these lectures were the source of most of his essays. Nature (1836), his first published work, contained the essence of his transcendental philosophy, which views the world of phenomena as a sort of symbol of the inner life and emphasizes individual freedom and self-reliance. Emerson's address to the Phi Beta Kappa society of Harvard (1837) and another address to the graduating class of the Harvard Divinity School (1838) applied his doctrine to the scholar and the clergyman, provoking sharp controversy. An ardent abolitionist, Emerson lectured and wrote widely against slavery from the 1840's through the Civil War.

His principal publications include two volumes of Essays (1841, 1844), Poems (1847), Representative Men (1850), The Conduct of Life (1860), and Society and Solitude (1870). He died of pneumonia in 1882 and was buried in Concord.

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Praise for Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Emerson who speaks to us through these essays understood America as few have done before or since. By nature a dualistic thinker, he fully realized the polarities of American experience—between action and reflection, self-reliance and community, unity and diversity, idealism and materialism, past and future…. In doing so, he tried to forge a new identity for the new representative American—serene, self-confident, democratic, progressive and pluralistic.” St. Petersburg Times

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