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Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume VI: The Conduct of Life
by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Ernest Spiller, Alfred Riggs Ferguson and Jean Ferguson Carr
edited by Douglas Emory Wilson
introduction by Barbara L. Packer
notes by Joseph Slater
Harvard University Press, 1971
Cloth: 978-0-674-01190-8
Library of Congress Classification PS1600.F71
Dewey Decimal Classification 814.3


The essays in this book, first published in 1860, were developed from a series of lectures on "The Conduct of Life" delivered by Emerson during the early 1850s. Some of the original lectures were dropped and the rest were considerably revised, with new topics introduced. The published essays, on "Fate," "Power," "Wealth," "Culture," "Behavior," "Worship," "Considerations by the Way," "Beauty," and "Illusions," show Emerson's interest in many practical aspects of human life, and reflect his increasing involvement in politics--chiefly in the antislavery movement--during the decade before the Civil War.

This edition is based on Emerson's holograph manuscripts and published sources. The text incorporates Emerson's later corrections and revisions, and shows us what he actually wrote (or, perhaps in some cases, intended to write).

Barbara Packer's historical introduction traces the book's development and its relation to Emerson's own personal growth and political awareness. Joseph Slater's explanatory notes help the modern reader to understand many of Emerson's references and allusions that may not be readily apparent.

Table of Contents:

Historical Introduction
Statement of Editorial Principles
Textual Introduction

The Conduct of Life

I. Fate
II. Power
III. Wealth
IV. Culture
V. Behavior
VI. Worship
VII. Considerations by the Way
VIII. Beauty
IX. Illusions

Textual Apparatus
Annex A: The Manuscripts
Appendix: Alterations in the Manuscripts
Annex B: Emerson's Corrections and Emendations
Annex C: Parallel Passages

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