After Emerson’s death in 1882, his friends, family and contemporaries published several remembrances and biographies of his life. Notable among them is Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “Ralph Waldo Emerson” published in 1885. Holmes, the father of the influential Supreme Court Justice of the same name, was a prominent and respected writer in New England in the late 19th century. While many of Emerson’s biographies were written by his students and have a common tone of adoration, Holmes depicts Emerson’s life and philosophy with credible and unbiased analysis. He describes Emerson as a New England academic and a sort of prophet of intellect rather than a religious mystic. He does, however, provide commentary on Emerson’s teachings as a mystic even if he disagrees with some of the concepts. Holmes, who was an acquaintance of Emerson, is able to describe the personality, charm and demeanor of the great teacher.
A new, wide-ranging selection of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most influential writings, this edition captures the essence of American Transcendentalism and illustrates the breadth of one of America’s greatest philosophers and poets.
The writings featured here show Emerson as a protester against social conformity, a lover of nature, an activist for the rights of women and slaves, and a poet of great sensitivity. As explored in this volume, Emersonian thought is a unique blend of belief in individual freedom and in humility before the power of nature. “I become a transparent eyeball,” Emerson wrote in Nature, “I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.” Written over a century ago, this passage is a striking example of the passion and originality of Emerson’s ideas, which continue to serve as a spiritual center and an ideological base for modern thought.
Illustrations are confined to maps and plans illustrating military movements; representations of actual scenes and incidents; and portraits of those who have borne an important part in the events described.
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