American Transcendentalism: A History

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sep 2, 2008 - History - 384 pages
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The First Comprehensive History of Transcendentalism

American Transcendentalism is a comprehensive narrative history of America's first group of public intellectuals, the men and women who defined American literature and indelibly marked American reform in the decades before and following the America Civil War. Philip F. Gura masterfully traces their intellectual genealogy to transatlantic religious and philosophical ideas, illustrating how these informed the fierce local theological debates that, so often first in Massachusetts and eventually throughout America, gave rise to practical, personal, and quixotic attempts to improve, even perfect the world. The transcendentalists would painfully bifurcate over what could be attained and how, one half epitomized by Ralph Waldo Emerson and stressing self-reliant individualism, the other by Orestes Brownson, George Ripley, and Theodore Parker, emphasizing commitment to the larger social good.

By the 1850s, the uniquely American problem of slavery dissolved differences as transcendentalists turned ever more exclusively to abolition. Along with their early inheritance from European Romanticism, America's transcendentalists abandoned their interest in general humanitarian reform. By war's end, transcendentalism had become identified exclusively with Emersonian self-reliance, congruent with the national ethos of political liberalism and market capitalism.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dasam - LibraryThing

An indepth history and analysis of the complex and sometimes contradictory movement known as Transcendentalism. There are many echoes of today, showing the deep and ongoing influence of the thinkers and their thoughts in the politics and culture of our day. Read full review

AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM: A History

User Review  - Kirkus

Comprehensive history of America's first public intellectual movement.Gura (American and Religious Studies/Univ. of North Carolina; Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical, 2005, etc.) notes that ... Read full review

Contents

Title Page
SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES
REINVIGORATING A FAITH
TRANSCENDENTALISM EMERGENT
RELIGIOUS COMBUSTION
CENTRIPETAL FORCES AND CENTRIFUGAL
HEAVEN ON EARTH
VARIETIES OF TRANSCENDENTALISM
SELF AND SOCIETY
THE INWARD TURN
FREE RELIGION AND THE DREAM OF
TOWARD THE GENTEEL TRADITION
ALSO BY PHILIP F GURA
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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About the author (2008)

Philip F. Gura is William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he holds appointments in English, American studies, and religious studies.

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