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Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the United States’ most well known authors, and one whose work is still read by every student in the country. Emerson was a lecturer, essayist and poet who became the champion of individualism and ended up becoming the Father of the Transcendentalist movement by the mid-1830s. By the middle of the century, he had published dozens of essays and Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the United States’ most well known authors, and one whose work is still read by every student in the country. Emerson was a lecturer, essayist and poet who became the champion of individualism and ended up becoming the Father of the Transcendentalist movement by the mid-1830s. By the middle of the century, he had published dozens of essays and given thousands of lectures on topics like self-reliance, avoiding conformity, and highlighting the connection between men and their environment. Emerson’s most groundbreaking work was Nature, an essay that became the foundation of Transcendentalism. Nature espoused an appreciation of nature and argued that there were inherent ties between nature and life. Within Emerson’s view of nature, humans were not superior beings but rather one more piece of the system. Emerson’s inspiration had come from a visit to the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, and lectures he gave in Boston were refined into the publication of Nature. Though Emerson had anonymously published Nature, he also sensed the importance of establishing an American style. A year later, he delivered a lecture known as "The American Scholar,” which included Nature in it. In the speech, Emerson declared literary independence in the United States and urged Americans to create a writing style all their own and free from Europe. In 1844, Emerson collected his lectures, poems, and writings and transformed them into the First Series and Second Series of Essays. The Essays discuss Emerson’s views concerning transcendentalism. This edition of Essays is specially formatted with a Table of Contents, an original introduction, and dozens of images of Emerson, his life and nature. Includes: Nature, The American Scholar, History, Self-Reliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws, Love, Friendship, Prudence, Heroism, the Over-Soul, Circles, Intellect, Art, The Poet, Experience, Character, Manners, Politics, Nonimalist and Realist, and New England Reformers.


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Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the United States’ most well known authors, and one whose work is still read by every student in the country. Emerson was a lecturer, essayist and poet who became the champion of individualism and ended up becoming the Father of the Transcendentalist movement by the mid-1830s. By the middle of the century, he had published dozens of essays and Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the United States’ most well known authors, and one whose work is still read by every student in the country. Emerson was a lecturer, essayist and poet who became the champion of individualism and ended up becoming the Father of the Transcendentalist movement by the mid-1830s. By the middle of the century, he had published dozens of essays and given thousands of lectures on topics like self-reliance, avoiding conformity, and highlighting the connection between men and their environment. Emerson’s most groundbreaking work was Nature, an essay that became the foundation of Transcendentalism. Nature espoused an appreciation of nature and argued that there were inherent ties between nature and life. Within Emerson’s view of nature, humans were not superior beings but rather one more piece of the system. Emerson’s inspiration had come from a visit to the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, and lectures he gave in Boston were refined into the publication of Nature. Though Emerson had anonymously published Nature, he also sensed the importance of establishing an American style. A year later, he delivered a lecture known as "The American Scholar,” which included Nature in it. In the speech, Emerson declared literary independence in the United States and urged Americans to create a writing style all their own and free from Europe. In 1844, Emerson collected his lectures, poems, and writings and transformed them into the First Series and Second Series of Essays. The Essays discuss Emerson’s views concerning transcendentalism. This edition of Essays is specially formatted with a Table of Contents, an original introduction, and dozens of images of Emerson, his life and nature. Includes: Nature, The American Scholar, History, Self-Reliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws, Love, Friendship, Prudence, Heroism, the Over-Soul, Circles, Intellect, Art, The Poet, Experience, Character, Manners, Politics, Nonimalist and Realist, and New England Reformers.

30 review for Essays: All Series Including Nature & The American Scholar Illustrated with Original Commentary

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    I would like to preface this review by saying that the body of the review has a lot "spiritual" talk and some people may find my words trite and very syrupy about my inner thoughts on life. So if you are feeling cynical right now, I think you will have a good chuckle. And, if you are like me, someone who always is searching, then maybe you will relate. Growing up I've always been hopscotching from book to book looking for the tome that could lead my life. When I was 10 or 11 I began pulling the b I would like to preface this review by saying that the body of the review has a lot "spiritual" talk and some people may find my words trite and very syrupy about my inner thoughts on life. So if you are feeling cynical right now, I think you will have a good chuckle. And, if you are like me, someone who always is searching, then maybe you will relate. Growing up I've always been hopscotching from book to book looking for the tome that could lead my life. When I was 10 or 11 I began pulling the books off my father's bookshelves. And from these books I began pulling finding names like Plato, Kant. Tons of Buddhist and Hindi spiritual epics lined out living room shelves. And my silly-putty brain began copying single phrases that later became the sign-posts that would direct my decision making. At first, I discovered a book of eastern philosophy. I think it was the Hymns of the Rig Veda. I can't recall any part of this except for the mantra, "The Usefulness in Unusefulness." The metaphor for this idea was a tree that bears sweetfruit and strong wood is destroyed and used, while the tree that bears poison leaves and brittle wood was allowed to live in undisturbed peace. This wasn't the smartest idea to cherish as a pre-teen. In high-school I was advised to read the book "Man's Search for Meaning" by my AP Psych teacher. This book was a riveting account of one man survival during the holocaust. His survival lead to his practice of his own school of therapy called logotherapy. This new school of psychology is summed up in one quote: Man can survive any how as long as he is given a why to live for. --Nietzsche I was blown away by the complex, human, and tender power of such a simple sentence. I re-read the book every year for three years and returned to precious passages in my greatest grayest moments. However, I have found a new spiritual muse in my mid-twenties. Ralph Emerson has become the lighthouse for my soul. Emerson writes with Whitman's American aesthetic applied to eastern spiritual practice in accepting the beauty of the single day and the single life. Each essay broaches very general topics like Self-Reliance, Art, Politics, etc. But, the body of these essays jump off the pages and empowers me like I was at my own personal tent revival. It wasn't a born again moment or anything that heavy, but the reading allowed fogged windows to clear and permitted my perception to change. I read most of the essays in the middle of the night and at 3am I felt intimate and open to the world all at once. Ralph inspired in one essay and redefined by the next. I will cling to these essays for a long time I feel, or, at least the feeling of reading and completing these essays will stay and, with hope, the inspiration I grafted onto my soul will blend into myself for a long long time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Love of Hopeless Causes

    How to properly appreciate Emerson Acquire audiobook and digital photo frame, then copy a series of Bob Ross painting images. Edit Emerson into sentences. Set the sentences to play one every ninety seconds, accompanied by an image. Hang in bathroom. You now have an infinite number of pregenerated shower thoughts spaced out far enough to appreciate them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Clearly I have changed since high school; as well as the world around me. These essays now seem much deeper and more insightful than they did the first time around. Emerson is not an easy read but he made me think differently about the world around me than I did before reading him. About myself as well. What a great gift that is!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dave Maddock

    Emerson, for whom my eldest son is named, had a profound effect on me as a teenager. His essays were the first piece of "serious" literature I undertook to read for personal education around age 16. Though I can't say I wholly subscribe to them these days, his ideas on individualist spirituality resonated with me, coming from a Christian family which encouraged self-discovery--with the caveat that your discoveries were orthodox. For someone as intellectually curious as I am, this environment led Emerson, for whom my eldest son is named, had a profound effect on me as a teenager. His essays were the first piece of "serious" literature I undertook to read for personal education around age 16. Though I can't say I wholly subscribe to them these days, his ideas on individualist spirituality resonated with me, coming from a Christian family which encouraged self-discovery--with the caveat that your discoveries were orthodox. For someone as intellectually curious as I am, this environment led to frustration as a teen when I actually did what I was told--read the Bible in earnest. From his "Divinity School Address": It is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul. What he announces, I must find true in me, or wholly reject; and on his word, or as his second, be he who he may, I can accept nothing. "Self-Reliance" in particular I've found myself coming back to periodically over the years and still find much inspiration in. He is most profound here when riffing on maintaining individual identify amidst society. The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible-Society, vote with a great party either for the Government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers,--under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    No review, just one quote about children from the essay "Nature": Read it, it's kind of funny.The child with his sweet pranks, the fool of his senses, commanded by every sight and sound, without any power to compare and rank his sensations, abandoned to a whistle or a painted chip, to a lead dragoon or a gingerbread-dog, individualizing everything, generalizing nothing, delighted with every new thing, lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue which this day of continual pretty madness has in No review, just one quote about children from the essay "Nature": Read it, it's kind of funny.The child with his sweet pranks, the fool of his senses, commanded by every sight and sound, without any power to compare and rank his sensations, abandoned to a whistle or a painted chip, to a lead dragoon or a gingerbread-dog, individualizing everything, generalizing nothing, delighted with every new thing, lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue which this day of continual pretty madness has incurred. But Nature has answered her purpose with the curly, dimpled lunatic. She has tasked every faculty, and has secured the symmetrical growth of the bodily frame by all these attitudes and exertions,— an end of the first importance, which could not be trusted to any care less perfect than her own. This glitter, this opaline lustre plays round the top of every toy to his eye to insure his fidelity, and he is deceived to his good. We are made alive and kept alive by the same arts. Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the meat is savory and the appetite is keen.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Usha

    Emerson teaches me something new every time I read him.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cymru Roberts

    I have a suspicion that one's views on Emerson depend very much on whether one feels they are living up to his statutes or not. Emerson is all about doing things your own way, being your best self, not giving in to excuses. Many of us, including myself, find that a bitter pill to swallow; or depending on the day, words of encouragement; or, axioms in which we are in total agreement. I always found his words uplifting, encouraging. Do I live up to his standards? Does anyone? There is still someth I have a suspicion that one's views on Emerson depend very much on whether one feels they are living up to his statutes or not. Emerson is all about doing things your own way, being your best self, not giving in to excuses. Many of us, including myself, find that a bitter pill to swallow; or depending on the day, words of encouragement; or, axioms in which we are in total agreement. I always found his words uplifting, encouraging. Do I live up to his standards? Does anyone? There is still something to be said for having standards though. Sometimes I feel in this "post-empire" time we live in that standards themselves are thought of as passé outdated entities. That earnestness and sacrifice are just boring useless rules our grandparents tried to instill, that never worked except to turn our parents into total cunts. Well, you know what, IRONY IS A DEAD SCENE, cynicism is fucking boring, and if you think values have no place in reality, that they are just tired aesthetic concepts and it's much cooler and funnier to watch Eastbound & Down, then YOU ARE A CUNT. I'm real bitter today. Wonder what Waldo would say about that... prolly that it is a sign of weakness...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ira Therebel

    Every once in a while we stumble upon a book which we are almost ashamed of not liking. This is the case for me. I just did not like it. I was basically forcing myself to read every essay without skipping. It was so tedious and I just really didn't care what he has to say. There were a few quotes that I thought were beautiful, but those were maybe 2-3 in the whole book. Other than that I found it very hard to read and I really didn't care for his ideas and thoughts on those topics. Not even his f Every once in a while we stumble upon a book which we are almost ashamed of not liking. This is the case for me. I just did not like it. I was basically forcing myself to read every essay without skipping. It was so tedious and I just really didn't care what he has to say. There were a few quotes that I thought were beautiful, but those were maybe 2-3 in the whole book. Other than that I found it very hard to read and I really didn't care for his ideas and thoughts on those topics. Not even his famous Self Reliance. I am not saying that he wasn't an intelligent man and that his essays aren't indeed a masterpiece for many. But I just am not one of them. I do have this sort of love-hate feelings to many philosophy works. I am interested and yet when I read it I have no idea why I did it. It sure isn't for everyone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bekah

    Emerson, oh so wise: A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us. A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. A great man is always willing to be little. A man is what he thinks about all day long. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way. Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well. Character is higher than intellect. A Emerson, oh so wise: A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us. A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. A great man is always willing to be little. A man is what he thinks about all day long. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way. Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well. Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    When I was 14 years old, my mother gave me Emerson's Essays as a gift. She always did things like this, which made me a lifelong reader of great literature. Emerson's wisdom reinforced the wisdom I had already heard or learned and added to it as well. So with that and Franklin's Autobiography, I made a list for self-improvement, another theme that I was at least conscious of for the rest of my life. Perfecto (R.I.P.) told my friend Xavier about the list when it dropped out of my pocket onto the When I was 14 years old, my mother gave me Emerson's Essays as a gift. She always did things like this, which made me a lifelong reader of great literature. Emerson's wisdom reinforced the wisdom I had already heard or learned and added to it as well. So with that and Franklin's Autobiography, I made a list for self-improvement, another theme that I was at least conscious of for the rest of my life. Perfecto (R.I.P.) told my friend Xavier about the list when it dropped out of my pocket onto the seat of the pick-up we used to go to school in. Having such a list was considered unusual enough, but with check-marks next to each attribute of character that addressed each one at a time, was considered highly eccentric. When confronted with this, I was at first chagrined, but then I became stubborn about it and insisted that it was a superior thing. I believe they agreed with that in time. Emerson arms his readers with a tight logic on the right way to live: a "gentleman" can converse with men of all castes and creeds, be self-reliant above all things, utility is a virtue (precursor to pragmatism), etc., and he was mostly a Deist which showed me the way. Emerson is required reading for all Americans, for he embodies the spirit that gives it its greatness. I intend to read Emerson's works for a third time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    My mother gave me her copy of this a few years ago. Finally picked it up at just the right time, and holy crap is this good. Some of it I didn't get or had a hard time with the language or just didn't feel like reading about the particular essay topic that day. Most was just clear as a bell and rich with meaning and insight. I can't do justice to it and his gift to us with these essays in this pithy little review. My mother gave me her copy of this a few years ago. Finally picked it up at just the right time, and holy crap is this good. Some of it I didn't get or had a hard time with the language or just didn't feel like reading about the particular essay topic that day. Most was just clear as a bell and rich with meaning and insight. I can't do justice to it and his gift to us with these essays in this pithy little review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    If you haven't read one of the following, you aren't fit to be an American. "The American Scholar" "Divinity School Address" "Nature" "Self-Reliance" I'll stick to that. If you haven't read one of the following, you aren't fit to be an American. "The American Scholar" "Divinity School Address" "Nature" "Self-Reliance" I'll stick to that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    When the first series of these essays were first published in 1841 the author’s aunt Mary remarked that it was “a strange medly [sic] of atheism and false independence.” Other reviewers were more favorable and the two series went on to become best sellers on both sides of the Atlantic. I think Aunt Mary’s charge of atheism is a bit misleading, since Emerson believed in The Over-Soul, of which all individual souls participated. I expect today’s generic term would be Higher Power. However, I must When the first series of these essays were first published in 1841 the author’s aunt Mary remarked that it was “a strange medly [sic] of atheism and false independence.” Other reviewers were more favorable and the two series went on to become best sellers on both sides of the Atlantic. I think Aunt Mary’s charge of atheism is a bit misleading, since Emerson believed in The Over-Soul, of which all individual souls participated. I expect today’s generic term would be Higher Power. However, I must agree with Aunt Mary about the strange mix of subjects, which I found tedious meanderings characterize by rhetorical flourish with little or no substance behind it. It was a real chore to finish this book for me—although it was an excellent sleep aide. The clearest of the essays was “Self-Reliance,” Aunt Mary’s “false independence,” this paean to non-conformity and individualism seemed to me, a life-lone non-conformist, a reductio ad absurdum of the point its author is attempting to assert. The essay contains this famous gem of logic: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” I continue to admire Emerson as a man and for what he did for American Literature, but this is one of the worst books I've ever read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    I've read Self-Reliance, The American Scholar, The Divinity School Address and part of Nature. I'm somewhat ashamed that I'm reading them for the first time here at the age of forty. Yet, I don't know how much of it I would have appreciated at a younger age. In my literature class, I find the youth sadly apathetic despite the pop trend towards involvement. Perhaps weighty discussions at 8:00 am are a bit overwhelming for their drug and alcohol saturated minds. I've read Self-Reliance, The American Scholar, The Divinity School Address and part of Nature. I'm somewhat ashamed that I'm reading them for the first time here at the age of forty. Yet, I don't know how much of it I would have appreciated at a younger age. In my literature class, I find the youth sadly apathetic despite the pop trend towards involvement. Perhaps weighty discussions at 8:00 am are a bit overwhelming for their drug and alcohol saturated minds.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I listened to Emerson's Essays on audio. Most of Emerson's essays were first presented in a lecture, so I thought it might be a good way to read Emerson. I found myself having to stop the audio, rewind a bit, and listen again. It seemed to help when I got a physical copy of the essays and read them as I listened to them. When I got to the end the first time, I started over and listened again. I think I will listen for a third time this month. The collection I listened to contained eleven of his m I listened to Emerson's Essays on audio. Most of Emerson's essays were first presented in a lecture, so I thought it might be a good way to read Emerson. I found myself having to stop the audio, rewind a bit, and listen again. It seemed to help when I got a physical copy of the essays and read them as I listened to them. When I got to the end the first time, I started over and listened again. I think I will listen for a third time this month. The collection I listened to contained eleven of his most famous essays: "Self-Reliance", "Nature", "Circles", "Friendship", "Heroism", "Prudence", "Compensation", "Gifts", "Manners", "Shakespeare; Or, the Poet", and "The American Scholar". Here are some quotes I liked from these essays. "Self-Reliance" “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day." “The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” “There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried." “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” "Nature" “Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler's trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar's garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world.” "Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe? The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.” “Standing on the bare ground,—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God." "Circles" “I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker.” "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." "The American Scholar" "What would we really know the meaning of? The meal in the firkin; the milk in the pan; the ballad in the street; the news of the boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body; — show me the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in these suburbs and extremities of nature; let me see every trifle bristling with the polarity that ranges it instantly on an eternal law; and the shop, the plough, and the ledger, referred to the like cause by which light undulates and poets sing; — and the world lies no longer a dull miscellany and lumber-room, but has form and order; there is no trifle; there is no puzzle; but one design unites and animates the farthest pinnacle and the lowest trench." "Heroism" 'It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, — "Always do what you are afraid to do."' "Prudence" "Tomorrow will be like today. Life wastes itself whilst we are preparing to live." "Compensation" "Our strength grows out of our weakness. The indignation which arms itself with secret forces does not awaken until we are pricked and stung and sorely assailed. A great man is always willing to be little. Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something; he has been put on his wits, on his manhood; he has gained facts; learns his ignorance; is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got moderation and real skill. The wise man throws himself on the side of his assailants. It is more his interest than it is theirs to find his weak point. The wound cicatrizes and falls off from him like a dead skin, and when they would triumph, lo! he has passed on invulnerable. Blame is safer than praise. I hate to be defended in a newspaper. As long as all that is said is said against me, I feel a certain assurance of success. But as soon as honeyed words of praise are spoken for me, I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies. In general, every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor." "Friendship" "The only way to have a friend is to be one." "The Poet" "Language is the archives of history … Language is fossil poetry." "Gifts" "The only gift is a portion of thyself." Various other quotes attributed to Emerson: “A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.” "It's the not the Destination; it's the journey.” "Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams." "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." "If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barack Liu

    186-Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson-Ralph Emerson-Essays-1841 Barack 2018/09/17 2020/06/13 —— "Strictly speaking, there is no history, only biography." "Ralph Emerson Essays and Lecture", first published in the United States in 1841. It records some of Emerson's essays and public speeches. Emerson (Ralph Emerson) was born in Boston, USA in 1803 and died in 1882. He was born into a priest's family. Studied at Harvard University. Emerson is a representative figure who established the spirit of America 186-Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson-Ralph Emerson-Essays-1841 Barack 2018/09/17 2020/06/13 —— "Strictly speaking, there is no history, only biography." "Ralph Emerson Essays and Lecture", first published in the United States in 1841. It records some of Emerson's essays and public speeches. Emerson (Ralph Emerson) was born in Boston, USA in 1803 and died in 1882. He was born into a priest's family. Studied at Harvard University. Emerson is a representative figure who established the spirit of American culture. Former US President Lincoln called him the "Confucius of America" and the "Father of American Civilization." His literary contributions are mainly in prose and poetry. Representative works: "Essays of Emerson" etc. Part of the catalog 1. Selected "Speech" 1.1. American scholars 1.2. Seminary speech 2. Selection of "Essay Collection" 2.1. History 2.2. Self-help 3. Selection of "Representatives" 3.1. The philosopher Plato 3.2. The mystic Swedenborg 4. Selection of "British Features" 4.1. First visit to the UK 4.2. Land Emerson was deeply influenced by Montaigne, but unlike Montaigne's short and succinct essays, Emerson's essays are mostly compiled from his speeches and are much longer and larger. I wonder whether the American audience in the mid-nineteenth century would find Emerson's speech to be too long . "What is history?" Napoleon said, "It's just a fable made by convention." Emerson's worldview is leaning towards idealism, paying attention to seeking answers from his own heart rather than gaining recognition from the outside world. He has a special essay that is The theme is "self-help". This kind of thinking is quite a bit of Zhuangzi's meaning of "exalting the world without persuading, exalting the world without discouraging it, defining the distinction between inside and outside, and arguing about the realm of honor and disgrace". "The identity of history is internal, and diversity is obvious. There are endless things on the surface, but there are only simple and clear reasons at the core." Emerson also realized that history is hidden under the seemingly different appearance of history. The unchanging law of development. Tang Taizong once said, "With history as a mirror, we can know the rise and fall." "Man is his own destiny." Emerson emphasized that human power should be sought from within. There is a sentence in "The Analects of Confucius": "The gentleman seeks himself, the villain seeks others." This "seeking" can be understood as Ask or seek. The so-called daylight with eyes open, and darkness with eyes closed, from an individual perspective, the world is indeed closely related to the individual. Louis XIV’s sentence "Who cares about the flood after I die" has been stinking for thousands of years, but it is also a fact for him. "Travel is a paradise for fools." Emerson did not agree with the behavior of people seeking inspiration from the outside. He believed that the whole universe could be felt from a drop of dewdrop or a dust of dust. "Ye Yi Bodhi" thought. "Stick to yourself and don't imitate." Emerson believes that people should find what they are suitable for. This is an extremely difficult thing. Most of them have not found it in their entire life. Some people find it because of subjectivity. It is impossible to engage in objective reasons. Only a few lucky people can discover their passion in the early stages of life and use their entire life to pursue it. "If you don't pay the price, you are nothing." Emerson sees the world as a duality, and everything will be compensated in the end. The so-called "good fortune and misfortune, fortune and good fortune." There is no absolute difference between good and bad things. , Subjective evaluation affects our attitude towards objective events. Transcendence is an important part of Emerson's thought. Transcendent means beyond all possible experiences, beyond time, space and other forms of existence, and cannot think about things in categories such as cause and effect, attributes, existence, and nonexistence. This unspeakable existence is somewhat metaphysical, like Lao Tzu said, "The Tao is Taoist, very Taoist." "Nature has no end, and every end is a beginning; another ray of light always rises at noon, and there is a deeper abyss below each abyss." This is an infinite thought, there is no beginning and no end. , Continuous. "Any kind of science may be refuted tomorrow; any literary reputation, even the so-called immortal reputation, may also be revised and criticized." There is nothing eternal and the only constant is change itself. "In the middle of the day, there will be confusion, the moon will be eclipsed, the world will be emptied, the news is with the times, and the situation is more than the people!" " There is such a fable, which comes from a certain period of ancient times when the test was missed. It conveys such an unexplored ancient teaching that at the beginning of the creation of the world, the gods divided "people" into "people" so that people could better Self-reliance; just as the hand is divided into five fingers, you can better achieve your goals. This ancient fable contains a constantly new and noble truth: there is a "whole person"-only partly, or through one kinds of talent reflected in every specific person; you have to accept the whole society, can only find the whole person who is not a farmer, not a professor, not I. engineers, all the people he is a pastor, scholar, yes. A politician is a producer and a soldier. In a state of division of labor or sociality, these functions are assigned to individuals, and each individual has to do his own share of the common work. Each does its own thing, not each other. put one's oar in. The implication of this fable is that if each person wants to control himself, sometimes he must turn back from his own labor and take all the other laborers into his arms. Unfortunately, this primitive unit, the source of this power, has been divided into tens of thousands, and it is divided and spread out, and the result is splashed into water droplets, which can no longer gather. Society is in such a state: every body is allowed to be amputated from the torso, so there are many walking monsters swaggering through the city-a smart finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never A person. " Humans need to be independent. It also needs to be united. Through independence , the individual exerts his own nature. Through unity, we become concentrated and scattered forces , and become part of a larger whole, thus glancing at greater wisdom. " 1. The earliest and most important unnatural influence among the many influences on the soul is none other than the one. Every day, the sun shines; after sunset, the night falls and the stars flash. The wind is always blowing, and the grass is always growing. Every day. Men and women are talking, watching, and being watched. Facing such a magnificent scene, the scholar should stand still and contemplate. He must determine the value of the landscape in his own mind. What is nature to him? God’s picture The web is endless, unreasonable, without beginning and end, but there is always a cyclical force returning to him. In this regard, nature is like the spirit of the scholar himself. He will never find its beginning and its end— —It is so integrated, so endless. In a remote place, when the natural brilliance shines, the galaxy is connected to the galaxy and shoots out like light, upwards, downwards, without a center, without a periphery-whether in a huge whole or in small particles, it is also anxious Confess yourself to the soul. Began to classify. For the young mind, everything is individual and independent. Soon, it discovered how to bring two things together, and saw two things, one nature; then three, then three thousand; oppressed by its own instinct, it continued to blend everything , Eliminate the anomaly, discover the roots spreading underground, why are things that are opposite and far away merge together, and why can flowers grow on the stems? It soon learned that since the dawn of history, the accumulation and classification of facts have been going on. " During my high school period, I had a vacation every two weeks. So from the beginning of high school , due to the tension of study life. Every time I have a holiday , I like to walk alone in the square by the Yangtze River after dinner . Naturally there is a way for it to sound . Whether it is the sound of the wind, the sound of the river, or the occasional bird call. Even distant ship gas siren , all it sound part of. Then I could clearly feel his soul by the subtle influence of some kind, but I can not tell in the end is what part of what has been touched and changed. Emerson puts great emphasis on the enlightenment of nature to man. There are many discussions about this in his works. " When this schoolboy learns to worship the soul and discovers that the current natural philosophy is only a preliminary exploration of the giant hand of the soul, he will look forward to an ever-widening and profound knowledge as he hopes for a moving creator. Seeing that nature is the correspondence of the soul, the two are in agreement everywhere. One is a seal and the other is an imprint. The beauty of nature is the beauty of his own soul. The laws of nature are also the laws of his own soul. So nature becomes a measure of his own achievements. The ruler of life. The more he is ignorant of nature, the less he has mastery of himself. In short, the ancient admonition "know oneself" and the current admonition "study nature" finally become a motto. " " Second, the next major influence of the spirit flowing into the scholars is the mind of the past-no matter what form the mind is engraved on, whether it is literary, artistic, or institutional. Books are the best influence in the past. Kind of, maybe as long as we consider the value of the book, we will be close to the truth-more convenient to understand the overall effect of this influence. The insight of the book is noble. Scholars in the Kaiyuan era accepted the world around them and brewed in themselves, And give it the new order of his soul, and then speak it out. What enters him is life, what comes out of him is truth; what enters him is short-lived action, what comes out of him is immortal thought. What enters him is The business comes from his poetry. It turned out to be a rigid fact, but now it is a smart thought. It can stand, it can walk. It sometimes forbears, sometimes it flies, and sometimes it is inspired. How deep is the soul that discharges it, it How high it can fly, how long it can sing. " Most people cannot bear to live in this world without a friend . But many people live a life that does not need books. In fact, in my opinion, a book is like a friend. Some friends are wise and profound. Some friends are witty and humorous. Some friends are suitable for discussing serious propositions in life with him. And some friends are suitable for having fun with him. The range of friends we choose in real life is quite limited. Often only limited to a small area within the scope of their own activities . But by using books as a medium, we can make friends with many different types of people, ancient and modern, both home and abroad. If you don't like reading , you can't experience this kind of fun. It is really a big shortcoming in life. " But the harm arises from this. The sacredness that belongs to the act of creation—the act of thought—is immediately transformed into historical records. People think that the poet who chants and sings is a god: so poetry becomes a god. The writer is a justice. And the spirit of wisdom: so the book was also rated as the best; just as the love for a hero transformed into a worship of his idol. In a blink of an eye, the book became a poisonous weed: the guide became a tyrant. What we were looking for was a brother who saw But he is an officer. The lazy and abnormal hearts of the public are always reluctant to open up to the influx of reason. But once they are open, once they accept this book, they will cling to it. If this book is degraded, It will sound the cries of exhaustion condemnation. The university is built on the basis of this book. Countless books have been written based on this book. The authors are just casual thinkers, "not active thinkers". They are talents, those who make mistakes together, those who start from the accepted dogma, and People who are not starting from their own principles. The timid young man grew up in a library, believing that his duty is to accept the ideas put forward by Cicero, Locke, and Bacon, but forget that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were in the library when they wrote these books. young people. " Mencius said that it is better to believe in the book than to have no book . If we see a person. To one of his relatives, friends or superiors, follow suit. Treat every word of the other party as a standard. Then we will laugh at this person secretly in our hearts. So, if we put a book in the sentence , then both as a motto, this is not it ridiculous? Even books like the Bible and the Analects. Is there something doubtful and questionable about the difference? The copying other people's ideas fall over , as their basis for survival , willing to defend with their lives. Isn't this ridiculous? Is the thought of others necessarily more noble than your own? We can use external thoughts to inspire ourselves, but we must never regard external things as the pillars of our own life building . " When used properly, a book is the best thing; abused is the worst thing. How to use it properly? What is the only purpose of doing everything possible? A book has no purpose except to give inspiration. I would rather never see A book, unwilling to be distorted by its gravitational force, completely leaves my own orbit and becomes a satellite instead of a galaxy. The only valuable thing in the world is the active soul-the soul, which is free and reigns over everything , Active and active. This is something that everyone has the right to; this is contained in everyone, although they are hindered by most people, they have not yet been born. Active souls can see the absolute truth, can speak the truth, or Create truth. When this action is carried out, it is a genius; it is not the privilege of a confidant, but the legitimate asset of everyone. In its essence, it is forward. Books, academies, art schools, all kinds of institutions are all stopped because of an old saying about genius. This is very good, they said-let's resolutely follow. They stared at me to death. They only care about the future, not forward. But geniuses always look forward: human eyes grow in front of the head, not behind the head. One can hope. Genius can create. Creation-creation-is a proof of divine temperament.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Feel like I could write a series of essays by just combining a bunch of vague aphorisms together. The universal impulse to believe. I am explained without explaining. Religions are ejaculations. The discovery that we have made that we exist. Nature and literature are subjective phenomena. The universe is the bride of the soul. Sin in others is experience for ourself. All stealing is comparative.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    There are many collections of Emerson’s essays in publication – some more complete or more recently compiled – but the one under review here was originally published by the Charles E. Merrill Co. in 1907. It contains eleven essays, including selections from both Emerson’s First and Second Series. There are around 700 end-notes that provide points of clarification. The front matter includes a brief biographical statement on Emerson, a discussion of critical opinion of his work, and a list of his There are many collections of Emerson’s essays in publication – some more complete or more recently compiled – but the one under review here was originally published by the Charles E. Merrill Co. in 1907. It contains eleven essays, including selections from both Emerson’s First and Second Series. There are around 700 end-notes that provide points of clarification. The front matter includes a brief biographical statement on Emerson, a discussion of critical opinion of his work, and a list of his writings. Rather than discuss the essays as a whole, I’ll describe each in turn. 1.) The American Scholar: a major theme in this essay is avoiding pretentiousness and not neglecting to see the virtue in the simple and unrefined. 2.) Compensation: Emerson had an interesting philosophy on this subject, believing that everything that belongs to one or which one ought to have will come to one. There is a Taoist feel to this essay, e.g. “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else: and for everything you gain, you lose something.” 3.) Self-Reliance: This is my favorite essay, hands down. It’s full of pithy, powerful, and quotable statements. e.g. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” “If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.” Even where it’s not so concise and quotable, it delivers important ideas. 4.) Friendship: There is a quote that I think is quite illustrative of Emerson’s thoughts on the subject: “I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can find them, but I seldom use them.” 5.) Heroism: Consistent with the ideas in “Self-Reliance,” Emerson proposes that the route to heroism is in trusting oneself and having inner confidence, rather than in trying to satisfy the dictates of society. 6.) Manners: Emerson was a fan of a polite and genteel nature. This may seem at odds with his general inclination to avoid pretension or elitism, but if one treats all people with polite respect, then these ideals do not conflict. 7.) Gifts: Related to the earlier essay on compensation, this piece decries getting caught up in giving opulent gifts and thinking it a grand virtue, while it doesn’t criticize gift giving all together. 8.) Nature: This is the subject that one likely most associates with Emerson and his friend and protégé, Thoreau. As one expects, Emerson suggests one spend more time in nature. Something interesting I found in this piece was his rebuke of pseudo-science. Not that it should be unexpected, but one must consider that the line between science and the occult wasn’t as fully formed as it is today and Emerson was a mystic. But consider this: “Astronomy to the selfish becomes astrology; psychology, mesmerism (with intent to show where our spoons are gone); and anatomy and physiology become phrenology and palmistry.” 9.) Shakespeare; or, The Poet: While honoring Shakespeare, Emerson points out that our recognition of brilliance isn’t recognition of originality. e.g. “The greatest genius is the most indebted man.” 10.) Prudence: Emerson insists that sagacity in managing oneself and one’s affairs is crucial. 11.) Circles: This essay covers a lot of ground in dealing with topics that are cyclical – though they may seem progressive. In parts it reminds me of the portion of self-reliance that says “society is a wave,” and which goes on to explain how it’s not a matter of society steadily advancing because it recedes on one side as quickly as it gains on the other. This can be seen in a quote such as: “New arts destroy the old.” I think a quote that drives to the heart of not falling into the illusion of believing fashions of the moment are an invariable truth can be seen here: “No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker with not past at my back.” I highly recommend this collection of essays. Some have maintained greater relevance than others, but all offer some interesting food for thought.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Carter

    Teacher: Write at least 1-3 paragraphs about your experience with a book/piece of literature in which you felt as if the author presented eloquently apodictic sets of premises that, however, weren't supported by pragmatic forms of cerebral processes of ratiocination, rather than the simplicity of raw intuition and the intrinsic desire to present something that he/she, by emotion, believe in it, making the argument specious, but far away from being articulately and logically unerring. Me: OH MY GO Teacher: Write at least 1-3 paragraphs about your experience with a book/piece of literature in which you felt as if the author presented eloquently apodictic sets of premises that, however, weren't supported by pragmatic forms of cerebral processes of ratiocination, rather than the simplicity of raw intuition and the intrinsic desire to present something that he/she, by emotion, believe in it, making the argument specious, but far away from being articulately and logically unerring. Me: OH MY GOSH! The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson was the quintessential example of that description you gave! It was just a grocery list of generalizations and bombastic, magniloquent diction that hardly resonates with me! Flowy emotion; no philosophical logic. It is a piece of work notoriously known for its pleonastic convolutedness, but, despite the advanced language, it seemed to have merely given conclusions for one to be INTRODUCED TO, but not to be OBSERVED!!! "...To believe our own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, -- that is genius...Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string...Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being." ----Self Reliance Emerson tries to show that humankind must look at their intuition, what they perceive by themselves, as opposed to the perception of others, so they can heuristically learn to assimilate wordly concepts, but, after reading the quote/understanding the conceptual proposition, it can be seen that Emerson gives us such a broad topic that's not supported by a tangible foundation of logic. One can still feel ambivalent about what Emerson intends for us to discern, in terms of the valuable aspects of self-reliance and a person's intuition. When Ralph Waldo Emerson states that it's considered to be "genius" to trust in your "private heart," what, specifically, can make one who trusts in their intrinsic self-obligations so prominent for possessing a great deal of sapience and intellect? Rather than simply stating that, "You-are-a-genius-for-trusting-in-yourself," what aspects of self-reliance (and those aspects, from my interpretation, remain unspecified throughout the essay) make one a genius? Does seeking self-reliant intuition make one a genius, because it allows one to seek empirical evidence and dive deeper into a concept, rather than the putative, theoretical representation of a concept that may be based on a bunch of unsupported conjectures created by someone who is using raw deduction/textbooks? And, in what way should humanity utilize that intuition? I'm not trying to say that there should be a right or wrong way to utilize it, but there seem to be several repercussions connected to both the inadvertent and deliberate utilization of intuition. Should intuition give us an incentive for a high level of morale/the will to persist and other factors that coincide with intuition, such as critical thinking, give us the ability to cogitate the salience of the exploration of a concept, its impact, and analyze multiple permutations of ways to "read" the concept/empirical evidence regarding it? How the heck does Emerson even DEFINE self-reliance/intuition. Reflecting back upon these questions that are still left with me, I only found that Emerson was inculcating a set of strong argumentative claims, but, as mentioned before, it was mostly an introduction to a premise that had yet to be contemplated and still needed to be rendered to be unerring through more reasoning and evidence. " An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man; as, the Reformation, of Luther; Quakerism, of Fox; Methodism, of Wesley; Abolition, of Clarkson. Scipio, Milton called "the height of Rome"; and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons." ---Also from Self Reliance There is evidence to support his claims, apparently, when looking through the works of other people. However, in this context, this is pretty much an enumeration of names we have yet to know. It might be that, at that time frame, the works of these people were so influential that their manifestation would be known to virtually every reader at that time, so these works are self-evidently able to support all of Emerson's claims. But, during this contemporary time frame, we may not know about who those people are and how they act like appendations to his claims, so we can't have a tangible paragon of Trait X to ruminate on. We only get an abstract definition of the importance of his claims. I also really wished that Emerson can apprise his readers of who those people are, what they did, and how their actions relate to his claims. "The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him life; it went out from him truth. It came to him short-lived actions; it went out from him immortal thoughts. It came to him business; it went from him poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires.[15] Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing."---The American Scholar Please... simple as that.... Rhetoric such as repetition, in Emerson's case, only emphasizes the PASSION in which he views the importance of a concept, not the VERACITY or ELOQUENCE of a concept. Sorry about the sloppy review. I wish I could've done better, but this was the best way to show my sentiments.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Re-read Compensation because there was a time when Emerson's words spoke so deeply to me. Wanted to see how I felt about his words again now. The concluding paragraph of Compensation still stands as an inspiring manifesto. Particularly when I've found myself in the midst of deep change, that paragraph speaks volumes to me. I don't 100% agree with Emerson's dualistic view of things. I try and take into account his life and times, but what I love about Emerson is how deeply he thought and what he Re-read Compensation because there was a time when Emerson's words spoke so deeply to me. Wanted to see how I felt about his words again now. The concluding paragraph of Compensation still stands as an inspiring manifesto. Particularly when I've found myself in the midst of deep change, that paragraph speaks volumes to me. I don't 100% agree with Emerson's dualistic view of things. I try and take into account his life and times, but what I love about Emerson is how deeply he thought and what he stirs.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Clifton Knox

    An education. There are very few writers who have ever imparted more wisdom in so few words. If Thomas Jefferson is the spirit of America then Ralph Waldo Emerson was its soul. A person who reads the words of Emerson cannot help but be haunted by the feeling of an eternal season of spring infused with the eternal sadness of life's inevitable end. Emerson is required reading for all thoughtful men and women. This particular book is excellent and no one looking to purchase Emerson's work in the kin An education. There are very few writers who have ever imparted more wisdom in so few words. If Thomas Jefferson is the spirit of America then Ralph Waldo Emerson was its soul. A person who reads the words of Emerson cannot help but be haunted by the feeling of an eternal season of spring infused with the eternal sadness of life's inevitable end. Emerson is required reading for all thoughtful men and women. This particular book is excellent and no one looking to purchase Emerson's work in the kindle format should hesitate to purchase it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ml Stephens

    This was one of those "I should have finished this in college" return trips. Emerson attacks ideas in an exclusively American way, one of vigor, amateur spirit, and (misplaced but endearing) certainty. Want to understand where we came from, why we're still arguing about what our fundamental rights really are, what makes the citizens of this country (all of us) so flawed and fabulous? Then read it. If you don't care, try Twilight. This was one of those "I should have finished this in college" return trips. Emerson attacks ideas in an exclusively American way, one of vigor, amateur spirit, and (misplaced but endearing) certainty. Want to understand where we came from, why we're still arguing about what our fundamental rights really are, what makes the citizens of this country (all of us) so flawed and fabulous? Then read it. If you don't care, try Twilight.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Thompson

    I first read this book in the late 80s as it was required reading as part of studies I was undertaking about mind power and the creativity of thought, under an American New Thought movement. And along with Man's presumptuous Brain, by H.T.W Simeons, it represents one of a handful of books that has greatly influenced me. I still have my original copy, and bought a copy recently for a friend for his birthday. I first read this book in the late 80s as it was required reading as part of studies I was undertaking about mind power and the creativity of thought, under an American New Thought movement. And along with Man's presumptuous Brain, by H.T.W Simeons, it represents one of a handful of books that has greatly influenced me. I still have my original copy, and bought a copy recently for a friend for his birthday.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    We'd read some Emerson in high school English classes and had read much about him in American History classes, but I'd never seriously attended to him until finding this old volume at a used bookstore. Thinking familiarity with him culturally important, I spent a couple of evenings reading through these essays, many of them inspirational in a quaint nineteenth-century manner. We'd read some Emerson in high school English classes and had read much about him in American History classes, but I'd never seriously attended to him until finding this old volume at a used bookstore. Thinking familiarity with him culturally important, I spent a couple of evenings reading through these essays, many of them inspirational in a quaint nineteenth-century manner.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracie Hall

    Audio: 1/1/2012; 14 hrs., 2 min.; Blackstone Publishing 9781483067704; SUMMARY / EVALUATION: I have long wanted to read Emerson, so finally downloaded this collection of his Essays from Overload. What reminded me that I'd wanted to get familiar with his essays was the book on Oliver Wendell Holmes. It had mentioned that Emerson was one of his father’s friends whom he’d met as a boy and came to admire especially while in college and forever after. I did enjoy listening to these essays, but I have Audio: 1/1/2012; 14 hrs., 2 min.; Blackstone Publishing 9781483067704; SUMMARY / EVALUATION: I have long wanted to read Emerson, so finally downloaded this collection of his Essays from Overload. What reminded me that I'd wanted to get familiar with his essays was the book on Oliver Wendell Holmes. It had mentioned that Emerson was one of his father’s friends whom he’d met as a boy and came to admire especially while in college and forever after. I did enjoy listening to these essays, but I have to confess much of it called for more thinking than listening straight through allows for. The man liked to write poetically, in fact every essay begins with a poem. It seems to me he writes ambiguously and obscurely. Or maybe it just seems so to me because so much of the language, or the way it was used wasn’t familiar. From the “Gifts” essay for example: "Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of a work-house. Nature does not cocker us: we are children, not pets: she is not fond: everything is dealt to us without fear or favor, after severe universal laws. Yet these delicate flowers look like the frolic and interference of love and beauty." I understand the passage now, but at first listen, I needed more time. The first line is clear enough, although I am not certain I agree. I know many a recipient of a gift of flowers who have deigned them impersonal, common, and slap-dash. The next line though, requires that I consider nature and search my mind for what might be meant by “ordinary nature” as opposed to flowers, and what about it presents a stern countenance. And, of course, I’m not familiar with work-houses, but presumably they were devoted to some sort of labor so a little thought makes it clear that music coming from one might seem cheerily incongruous and might brighten its mood a little. “Cocker” isn’t a word I commonly hear, but I assume it is the same as cockle, similar to coddle. But I don’t understand how nature treats us more childlike than pet-like—or what nature would have to do to cocker us, and if it did, would we then be pet-like? See what I mean about it taking more consideration than one has time for listening to it straight through? So, audio, for me, isn’t really the most appropriate format for this. I did learn that Emerson had no interest in the occult arts—in one of the essays he states that to the selfish, astronomy becomes astrology, and then I think, anatomy becomes phrenology, and there is a third one. And then, compassion doesn’t seem to be a valued trait, as in the “Self Reliance” essay, he says, “Do not tell me, as a good man did today, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong.” I shouldn’t say I never feel this way myself, but its not something I admire in myself or others or would necessarily advise emulating. I did enjoy listening to these essays though. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays are available at the Gutenberg Project, complete with a glossary for many of the terms. This would be the better mode to consume I believe. AUTHOR: Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882). According to Wikipedia, he went by his middle name, Waldo, and “was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.” NARRATOR: Jeff Riggenbach (January 12, 1947?) I’m not sure I found the right Jeff Riggenbach online, but if it’s the fellow with this birthday, he is an advocate of the Libertarian movement. It makes sense to me that such a fellow would enjoy narrating Emerson’s essays, so I’m thinking I found the right one. At any rate he has a good narrative voice for this. GENRE: Philosophy LOCATIONS: Boston, Massachusetts SAMPLE QUOTATION: From "Nature" "It seems as if the day was not wholly profane, in which we have given heed to some natural object. The fall of snowflakes in a still air, preserving to each crystal its perfect form; the blowing of sleet over a wide sheet of water, and over plains; the waving rye-fields; the mimic waving of acres of houstonia, whose inumerable florets whiten and riplle before the eye; the reflections of trees and flowers in glassy lakes; the musical steaming odorous south wind, which converts all trees to wind-harps, the crackly and spurting of hemlocki in the flames; or of pine-logs, which yield glory to the walls and faces in the sitting-room,---these are the music and pictures of the most ancient religion" RATING: I give this a three, but I suspect if I spent some time reading the print I would come to appreciate it more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stacy Parrish

    I love Emerson. Someday I will move to my own Walden Pond.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bob Couchenour

    If you are an American, and have stepped outside the puritanical bubble, you will probably get something out of this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Niranjan

    Poetic, but Emerson makes too many generalisations and talks about them like law. Very disappointed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Keith Wilson

    I recently opened, for the first time, a volume of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson from the collection of old books in my library that I have never read. I was surprised to find that my father, whom I must’ve gotten the book from, noted on the title page that he had read it three times in his adolescence. I started to study the book, not to discover what Emerson’s thoughts were, but to learn more about my father. When I have a client who needs to understand something about their father, I ask them I recently opened, for the first time, a volume of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson from the collection of old books in my library that I have never read. I was surprised to find that my father, whom I must’ve gotten the book from, noted on the title page that he had read it three times in his adolescence. I started to study the book, not to discover what Emerson’s thoughts were, but to learn more about my father. When I have a client who needs to understand something about their father, I ask them to refer to the parent by name, not title. That’s because my father was a being who was born when I was born and had existence only in relation to me; whereas, Ray, which was my father’s name, lived about thirty years before I did, had experiences, thoughts, and feelings wholly apart from me, and died about twenty-five years ago, not much older than I am now. I knew him all my life as my father, and so, only knew him partially. I’d like to get to know more about him now, as a person, not just as a father; but alas, I cannot, except through Emerson. A conscientious teenage boy might read an author like Emerson once if it was assigned. He might read it twice if he liked it, but he would not read it three times in three years if it didn’t make a profound impact on him. There had to be something about Emerson that would unlock the hidden parts of Ray to me. Emerson was the chief voice, if not the founder, of transcendentalism. Was Ray a closet transcendentalist? These are some of Emerson’s words, taken from his essays, Nature, Self-Reliance, Circles, and The American Scholar, the anthems of transcendentalism: Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. [I think, by man, Emerson meant human.] To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds…A nation of men [and women] will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all … Emerson lived and wrote in a country that had just freed itself from the domination of Europe. He advocated that Americans leave Europe and all its traditions behind and trust their instincts. Ray grew up the son of a house maid. His own father had gone off during the Great Depression to find work and never returned. His mother’s wealthy employers ruled in his father’s place: the autocratic and persnickety Old Lady Wightman, and Mr Wightman, an introverted man of letters. The Wightmans were British transplants. It wouldn’t be hard for Ray, reading this book of essays, to imagine that when Emerson was addressing Americans to shake off the domination of Europe and trust themselves, that the author was addressing Ray directly, urging him to free himself from the control of the Wightmans. So, just as soon as Ray had an opportunity, he did so. At the tender age of seventeen, he joined the US Navy and went off to war. I’ve got to believe that seventeen year old boy, shipping halfway around the world to fight a desperate war, had to have a lot of Emerson inside him. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Always do what you are afraid to do. Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old. Every great and commanding moment in the annals of the world is the triumph of some enthusiasm. World War II turned out to be a blast for Ray, tooling around the South Pacific island of Eniwetok in a patrol boat long after that island had been won from the Japanese. He returned a skilled mechanic and went to work fixing cars. Did he remember his Emerson then and regret specializing only in auto mechanics, cutting himself off from his full humanity? You must take the whole society to find the whole man [human]. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all…In the divided or social state these functions are parceled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work… the individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But, unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops and cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters – a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man. I think he did. The evidence is that, later, about the time I was expected, he declared that he would build his own house, despite having no skills in the building trades. Everyone thought he was crazy, but he did it. My father never talked about Emerson to me. Indeed, I rarely saw him read a book, although I always knew he held reading in high regard. I knew this because we had a lot of books in my home, many of which he had obtained from Mr Wightman, the shy man of letters. Ray, however, was an Emersonian man of action. Emerson also had a complicated relationship towards books. He was, of course, an author and a very well read scholar, but one who valued action over analysis. I found it hard to read Emerson until I learned that his essays are best read aloud. I elected to have them read to me. He does not develop his points systematically, his writings are like a series of epigrams, nipping at his subject from a variety of angles. Listening to Emerson, it is possible to have your attention wander off for a few minutes and not miss anything because he will return to the point again and again in a new way. To Emerson, the important thing was not what he had to say, but the thoughts and actions that his words would awaken within you. Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. Books are for the scholar’s idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men’s transcripts of their readings. Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and the work-yard made. I was a big reader when I was a kid and declared that I would grow up to be a writer. My father never pushed anything on me, but I could tell that, whatever I developed an enthusiasm for, he would delight in and support. Still, whenever there was some real work to do around the house, like when we built an addition, or the car needed something, I was right there with him, hammering and turning wrenches with him. I therefore learned to do a great many things and was never intimidated to try something new. When I, at the age of nineteen, said I would move to Western New York and build a house, everyone thought I was crazy, except my father. Ray had done something just like it. Ray was an Emersonian and he had raised an Emersonian without ever speaking a word of Emerson to me. The secret in education lies in respecting the student. All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. Children are all foreigners. Emerson is found in practically every idea that has come out of America since his time. Everyone from the Tea Party to the New Deal, from Environmentalism to Entrepreneurial Capitalism, from the Sixties Anti-War Movement to the Neo-Conservatives of the 1990s drew from Emerson. Melville’s Captain Ahab was a mad Emersonian, Gatsby a sad one. It’s in Thoreau, of course; he being a protege of Emerson; and, by way of Thoreau, he infused Martin Luther King and Gandhi. His influence is also found in William Burroughs, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, and Barbara Kingsolver. The Dead Poet’s Society is chock full of Emerson. Dizzy Gillespie played transcendentalism with his horn. Louise Armstrong sang it. Read Emerson today and he sounds like a New Age Guru. He also sounds like half of the memes people post on Facebook. Emerson is in the very air we breath. He’s in the nutrients of the soil. You don’t have to read Emerson to be affected by him, or even have a father who read Emerson. He is a pervasive, inescapable, unconscious part of modern ideology. To be great is to be misunderstood. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. Every hero becomes a bore at last. A friend is one before whom I may think aloud. A man of genius is privileged only as far as he is genius. His dullness is as insupportable as any other dullness. I would urge you to read Emerson even if you aren’t looking to connect with your father. Read Emerson to understand something about yourself. This review and more was originally published in Madness 101: www.keithwilsoncounseling.wordpress.com

  30. 4 out of 5

    C. Drying

    WHY DID YOU READ THIS BOOK? I read this book once before as a student of English literature. I chose to read it again because I wanted to be inspired. WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK? Emerson is very profound. His sentences are dense with meaning, and I like that. I'm especially intrigued by his idea of the "Oversoul." Despite that I'm an atheist, I can stand to suspend my disbelief of the supernatural enough to enjoy the concept that we're all organs through which the Oversoul flows. Furthermore, WHY DID YOU READ THIS BOOK? I read this book once before as a student of English literature. I chose to read it again because I wanted to be inspired. WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK? Emerson is very profound. His sentences are dense with meaning, and I like that. I'm especially intrigued by his idea of the "Oversoul." Despite that I'm an atheist, I can stand to suspend my disbelief of the supernatural enough to enjoy the concept that we're all organs through which the Oversoul flows. Furthermore, I love the many eloquently stated truisms, maxims, adages, etc. that are stated throughout all of his essays and feel they're very much worthwhile to read. While I would never be able to decide on a favorite, here are a few that are merely convenient to include at this moment: "Adequate expression is rare. I know not how it is that we need an interpreter, but the great majority of men seem to be minors, who have not yet come into possession of their own, or mutes, who cannot report the conversation they have had with nature." "The Universe is the externalization of the soul." "The Greek letters last a little longer, but are already passing under the same sentence and tumbling into the inevitable pit which the creation of new thought opens for all that is old." WHAT DID YOU DISLIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK? It seems one must be somewhat learned to appreciate Emerson completely, but that's no fault of Emerson. It's just that 19th-century literature is becoming increasingly difficult to read for some of us here in the 21st century. DO YOU RECOMMEND THIS BOOK? Even though it's not easy to read and much of the allusions and references to classical Greek mythology and ancient Rome require constant look up, I think it's worthwhile to attempt to read Emerson because he writes during a special time in America when people were interested in adult education for intellectual stimulation and self-improvement, and I think people's ideas about America today might expand for the better as a result of reading this collection of essays.

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