Selected Essays Books
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 ofEssays (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.
Larzer Ziff is a research professor of English at Johns Hopkins University who has written extensively on American literary culture.
Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that an appreciation of its vast natural resources would become the foundation of American culture. His assertion that human thought and actions proceed from nature, was a radical departure from the traditional European emphasis on domesticating nature to suit human needs. His philosophy is rich in common natural scenes of daily life, and expreRalph Waldo Emerson believed that an appreciation of its vast natural resources would become the foundation of American culture. His assertion that human thought and actions proceed from nature, was a radical departure from the traditional European emphasis on domesticating nature to suit human needs. His philosophy is rich in common natural scenes of daily life, and expresses the inherent harmony between man and nature. This collection brings together 15 of Emerson's most significant essays, including "Nature", "The American Scholar", "Self-reliance" and "The Transcendentalist", as well as his assessments of Montaigne, Napoleon and Thoreau....more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 416 pages
Published April 29th 1982 by Penguin Books (first published 1876)