Ralph Waldo Emerson: Essays and Lectures
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Ralph Waldo Emerson: Essays and Lectures

Penguin Random House / 1983 / Hardcover

In Stock
Stock No: WW450151


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Product Description

Emerson's enduring power is apparent everywhere in American literature: there is scarcely a writer or philosopher who has not been touched by his vision. The first volume of his writing in the Library of America covers his most productive period, and encompasses his richest and most important works. Here in their entirety are the books that established Emerson's colossal reputaion as our most eloquent champion of individualism and as a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society. Included are such renowned works as "The American Scholar" (which Oliver Wendell Holmes called "our intellectual Declaration of Independence"), the controversial "Divinity School Address," which led to Emerson's leaving the ministry to pursue a fiercely independent course, the inspiring summons to "Self-Reliance." No other volume conveys so comprehensively the exhilaration and exploratory energy of perhaps America's greatest writer.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 1321
Vendor: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 1983
Dimensions: 8.14 X 5.28 X 1.44 (inches)
ISBN: 0940450151
ISBN-13: 9780940450158
Series: Library of America

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Publisher's Description

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.

Author Bio

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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