Essays & Lectures

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Library of America, 1983 - Literary Collections - 1321 pages
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This first Library of America volume of Emerson's writing covers the most productive period of his life, 1832-1860. 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 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.

Emerson's enduring power is apparent everywhere in American literature: in those, like Whitman and some of the major twentieth-century poets, who seek to corroborate his vision, and among those, like Hawthorne and Melville, who questioned, qualified, and struggled with it. Emerson's vision reverberates also in the tradition of American philosophy, notably in the writings of William James and John Dewey, in the works of his European admirers, such as Nietzsche, and in the avant-garde theorists of our own day who write on the nature and function of language. The reasons for Emerson's 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.
 

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Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau are three persons I like very much, because they all described nature so much and give me an impression of what a man or citizen should be existing. Read full review

Contents

NATURE
5
ADDRESSES
44
LECTURES
116
History 255
237
SelfReliance
257
Compensation
283
Spiritual Laws
303
Love
327
First Visit to England
767
Voyage to England
779
Land
784
Race
790
Ability
806
Manners
822
Truth
830
Character
836

Friendship
339
Prudence
357
Heroism
369
The OverSoul
383
Circles
403
Intellect
417
Art
429
The Poet
445
Experience
469
Character
493
Manners
511
Gifts
535
Nature
539
Politics
557
Nominalist and Realist
573
New England Reformers Lecture at Amory Hall
589
Uses of Great Men
615
Plato or the Philosopher
633
New Readings
655
Swedenborg or the Mystic
661
Montaigne or the Skeptic
690
Shakspeare or the Poet
710
Napoleon or the Man of the World
727
Goethe or the Writer
746
Cockayne
845
Wealth
850
Aristocracy
860
Universities
875
Religion
883
Literature
893
The Times
908
Stonehenge
915
Personal
925
Result
929
Speech at Manchester
934
Fate
941
Power
969
Wealth
987
Culture
1013
Behavior
1035
Worship
1053
Considerations by the Way
1077
Beauty 109
1084
Illusions
1113
Chronology
1125
Note on the Texts
1135
Index of Titles
1149
Copyright

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About the author (1983)

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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