Essayist, poet, and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) propounded a transcendental idealism emphasizing self-reliance, self-culture, and individual expression. The six essays and one address included in this volume, selected from Essays, First Series (1841) and Essays, Second Series (1844), offer a representative sampling of his views outlining that moral idealism as well as a hint of the later skepticism that colored his thought. In addition to the celebrated title essay, the others included here are "History," "Friendship," "The Over-Soul," "The Poet," and "Experience," plus the well-known and frequently read Harvard Divinity School Address.
Introduction by Mary Oliver Commentary by Henry James, Robert Frost, Matthew Arnold, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry David Thoreau
The definitive collection of Emerson’s major speeches, essays, and poetry, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson chronicles the life’s work of a true “American Scholar.” As one of the architects of the transcendentalist movement, Emerson embraced a philosophy that championed the individual, emphasized independent thought, and prized “the splendid labyrinth of one’s own perceptions.” More than any writer of his time, he forged a style distinct from his European predecessors and embodied and defined what it meant to be an American. Matthew Arnold called Emerson’s essays “the most important work done in prose.”
He was an ordained minister, renowned orator, and beloved author and poet whose ideas on nature, philosophy, and religion influenced authors such as Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. Through his writings, Emerson ardently professed the importance of being an individual, resisting the comfort of conformity, and creating an art of living in harmony with nature. This soul-satisfying anthology of twelve favorite essays is a treasure. In the title essay, Emerson writes about the extraordinary power of nature as a way of bringing the divine into our lives. In "Gifts," he reminds us that flowers and gold may be acceptable to those we love, but "the only gift is a portion of thyself." "Spiritual Laws" points out that because a higher law than our own rules the world, there is no need for struggle. Other essays include "Character," "Prudence," "Intellect," "Love," "Beauty," "The American Scholar" address and others. Readers of all ages will want to keep this volume on hand to inspire and refresh the spirit
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