In Above Time, James R. Guthrie explores the origins of the two preeminent transcendentalists' revolutionary approaches to time, as well as to the related concepts of history, memory, and change. Most critical discussions of this period neglect the important truth that the entire American transcendentalist project involved a transcendence of temporality as well as of materiality. Correspondingly, both writers call in their major works for temporal reform, to be achieved primarily by rejecting the past and future in order to live in an amplified present moment.
Emerson and Thoreau were compelled to see time in a new light by concurrent developments in the sciences and the professions. Geologists were just then hotly debating the age of the earth, while zoologists were beginning to unravel the mysteries of speciation, and archaeologists were deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs. These discoveries worked collectively to enlarge the scope of time, thereby helping pave the way for the appearance of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859.
Well aware of these wider cultural developments, Emerson and Thoreau both tried (although with varying degrees of success) to integrate contemporary scientific thought with their preexisting late-romantic idealism. As transcendentalists, they already believed in the existence of "correspondences"—affinities between man and nature, formalized as symbols. These symbols could then be decoded to discover the animating presence in the world of eternal laws as pervasive as the laws of science. Yet unlike scientists, Emerson and Thoreau hoped to go beyond merely understanding nature to achieving a kind of passionate identity with it, and they believed that such a union might be achieved only if time was first recognized as being a purely human construct with little or no validity in the rest of the natural world. Consequently, both authors employ a series of philosophical, rhetorical, and psychological strategies designed to jolt their readers out of time, often by attacking received cultural notions about temporality.
The Annotated Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS1603.M55 2011 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Emerson remains one of America’s least understood writers, having spawned neither school nor follower. Those wishing to discover or reacquaint themselves with Emerson’s writings but who have not known where or how to begin will not find a better starting place or more reliable guide than David Mikics in this richly illustrated Annotated Emerson.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson was well on his way to becoming the “Wisest American” and the “Sage of Concord,” a literary celebrity and a national icon. With that fame came what Robert Habich describes as a blandly sanctified version of Emerson held widely by the reading public. Building Their Own Waldos sets out to understand the dilemma faced by Emerson’s early biographers: how to represent a figure whose subversive individualism had been eclipsed by his celebrity, making him less a representative of his age than a caricature of it.
Drawing on never-before-published letters, diaries, drafts, business records, and private documents, Habich explores the making of a cultural hero through the stories of Emerson’s first biographers— George Willis Cooke, a minister most recently from Indianapolis who considered himself a disciple; the English reformer and newspaper mogul Alexander Ireland, a friend for half a century; Moncure D. Conway, a Southern abolitionist then residing in London, who called Emerson his “spiritual father and intellectual teacher”; the poet and medical professor Oliver Wendell Holmes, with Emerson a member of Boston’s gathering of literary elite, the Saturday Club; James Elliot Cabot, the family’s authorized biographer, an architect and amateur philosopher with unlimited access to Emerson’s unpublished papers; and Emerson’s son Edward, a physician and painter whose father had passed over him as literary executor in favor of Cabot.
Just as their biographies reveal a complex, socially engaged Emerson, so too do the biographers’ own stories illustrate the real-world perils, challenges, and motives of life-writing in the late nineteenth century, when biographers were routinely vilified as ghoulish and disreputable and biography as a genre underwent a profound redefinition. Building Their Own Waldos is at once a revealing look at Emerson’s constructed reputation, a case study in the rewards and dangers of Victorian life-writing, and the story of six authors struggling amidst personal misfortunes and shifting expectations to capture the elusive character of America’s “representative man,” as they knew him and as they needed him to be.
In these three lectures, Cavell situates Emerson at an intersection of three crossroads: a place where both philosophy and literature pass; where the two traditions of English and German philosophy shun one another; where the cultures of America and Europe unsettle one another.
"Cavell's 'readings' of Wittgenstein and Heidegger and Emerson and other thinkers surely deepen our understanding of them, but they do much more: they offer a vision of what life can be and what culture can mean. . . . These profound lectures are a wonderful place to make [Cavell's] acquaintance."—Hilary Putnam
A daring and innovative study that rewrites the story of American pragmatism.
Emancipating Pragmatism is a radical rereading of Emerson that posits African- American culture, literature, and jazz as the very continuation and embodiment of pragmatic thought and democratic tradition. It traces Emerson's philosophical legacy through the 19th and 20th centuries to discover how Emersonian thought continues to inform issues of race, aesthetics, and poetic discourse.
Emerson's pragmatism derives from his abolitionism, Michael Magee argues, and any pragmatic thought that aspires toward democracy cannot ignore and must reckon with its racial roots. Magee looks at the ties between pragmatism and African-American culture as they manifest themselves in key texts and movements, such as William Carlos Williams's poetry; Ralph Ellison's discourse in Invisible Man and Juneteenth and his essays on jazz; the poetic works of Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka, and Frank O'Hara; as well as the "new jazz" being forged at clubs like The Five Spot in New York.
Ultimately, Magee calls into question traditional maps of pragmatist lineage and ties pragmatism to the avant-garde American tradition.
Michael Magee teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
Lawrence BUELL Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS1638.B84 2003 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
"An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man," Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote--and in this book, the leading scholar of New England literary culture looks at the long shadow Emerson himself has cast, and at his role and significance as a truly American institution. On the occasion of Emerson's 200th birthday, Lawrence Buell revisits the life of the nation's first public intellectual and discovers how he became a "representative man."
Born into the age of inspired amateurism that emerged from the ruins of pre-revolutionary political, religious, and cultural institutions, Emerson took up the challenge of thinking about the role of the United States alone and in the world. With characteristic authority and grace, Buell conveys both the style and substance of Emerson's accomplishment--in his conception of America as the transplantation of Englishness into the new world, and in his prodigious work as writer, religious thinker, and philosopher. Here we see clearly the paradoxical key to his success, the fierce insistence on independence that acted so magnetically upon all around him. Steeped in Emerson's writings, and in the life and lore of the America of his day, Buell's book is as individual--and as compelling--as its subject. At a time when Americans and non-Americans alike are struggling to understand what this country is, and what it is about, Emerson gives us an answer in the figure of this representative American, an American for all, and for all times.
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations Abbreviations Used in This Book
Introduction 1. The Making of a Public Intellectual 2. Emersonian Self-Reliance in Theory and Practice 3. Emersonian Poetics 4. Religious Radicalisms 5. Emerson as a Philosopher? 6. Social Thought and Reform: Emerson and Abolition 7. Emerson as Anti-Mentor
Notes Acknowledgments Index
Reviews of this book: I learned from and greatly enjoyed reading Lawrence Buell's Emerson. --Susan Sontag, Times Literary Supplement
Reviews of this book: Lawrence Buell has written a comprehensive, penetrating and timely study, the distillation of a lifetime's scholarship, of this great thinker and writer, 'the poet of ordinary days,' as his disciple, John Dewey, beautifully called him. --John Banville, Irish Times
Reviews of this book: In this book Buell distills a lifetime of study and teaching on Emerson. Its tone is easy and confident, friendly and inviting, and Buell's aim is to share his admiration for America's first public intellectual with a new generation of readers. --P. J. Ferlazzo, Choice
Reviews of this book: In this book Lawrence Buell shows us why Emerson remains worth reading in our own time...What Buell has to say here about Emerson is not only persuasive but also consistently interesting, surprisingly original...and, best of all, written in straightforward, lucid language...Buell's discussion of the relationship between Emerson and his prize pupil, Henry David Thoreau, is brilliant. --Daniel W. Howe, Common-Place
This is a splendid book, an important one, and one that will have wide appeal. This will be an indispensable book on Emerson, putting the keys to that complex man and his work into the reader's hand. If you want to know why we are still reading and talking about Emerson, start here. --Robert Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire and Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind.
Lawrence Buell has made it his business to set forth exciting new lines of inquiry. He has done so once again: bringing Emerson up to date, moving him away from a nation-based paradigm, and firing him up as an entry point to a global, cross-lingual circuit. --Wai Chee Dimock, author of Empire for Liberty.
This book is a literary-cultural event: the harvest of the past half-century of Emersonian revaluations and the harbinger, guide, and provocation for the next generations of Emerson scholars and critics. One cannot call a work on Emerson definitive, even provisionally, but I cannot imagine that any Americanist - or for that matter, anyone interested in America, specialist or non-specialist -- will be able to do without this book in the foreseeable future. --Sacvan Bercovitch, author of The American Jeremiad, and The Puritan Origins of the American Self.
This a splendid book, an important one, and one that will have wide appeal. This will be an indispensable book on Emerson, putting the keys to that complex man and his work into the reader's hand. If you want to know why we are still reading and talking about Emerson, start here. --Robert Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire and Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
Lawrence Buell has made it his business to set forth exciting new lines of inquiry. He has done so once again: bringing Emerson up to date, moving him away from a nation-based paradigm, and firing him up as an entry point to a global, cross-lingual circuit. --Wai Chee Dimock, author of Empire for Liberty
This book is a literary-cultural event: the harvest of the past half-century of Emersonian revaluations and the harbinger, guide, and provocation for the next generations of Emerson scholars and critics. One cannot call a work on Emerson definite, even provisionally, but I cannot imagine that any Americanist--or, for that matter, anyone interested in America, specialist or nonspecialist--will be able to do without this book in the foreseeable future. --Sacvan Bercovitch, author of The American Jeremaid and The Puritan Origins of the American Self
Much has been written about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s fundamental contributions to American literature and culture as an essayist, philosopher, lecturer, and poet. But despite wide agreement among literary and rhetorical scholars on the need for further study of Emerson as a rhetorical theorist, little has been published on the subject. This book fills that gap, reenvisioning Emerson’s work through his significant engagement with rhetorical theory in the course of his career and providing a more profound understanding of Emerson’s influence on American ideology.
Moving beyond dominant literary critical thinking, Thompson argues that for Emerson, rhetoric was both imaginative and nonsystematic. This book covers the influences of rhetoricians from a range of periods on Emerson’s model of rhetoric. Drawing on Emerson’s manuscript notes, journal entries, and some of his rarely discussed essays and lectures as well as his more famous works, the author bridges the divide between literary and rhetorical studies, expanding our understanding of this iconic nineteenth-century man of letters.
This book presents a revisionist account of Ralph Waldo Emerson's influential thought on individualism, in particular his political psychology.
Christopher Newfield analyzes the interplay of liberal and authoritarian impulses in Emerson's work in various domains: domestic life, the changing New England economy, theories of poetic language, homoerotic friendship, and racial hierarchy. Focusing on neglected later writings, Newfield shows how Emerson explored the tensions between autonomy and community—and consistently resolved these tensions by "abandoning crucial elements of both" and redefining autonomy as a kind of liberating subjection. He argues that in Emersonian individualism, self-determination is accompanied by submission to authority, and examines the influence of this submissive individualism on the history of American liberalism. In a provocative reading of Emerson's early and neglected later works, Newfield analyzes Emerson's emphasis on collective, or "corporate", world-building, rather than private possession. Tracing the development of this corporate individualism, he illuminates contradictions in Emerson's political outlook, and the conjunctions of liberal and authoritarian ideology they produced.
At his death, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was universally acknowledged in America and England as “the Great Romancer.” Novels such as The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables and stories published in such collections as Twice-Told Tales continue to capture the minds and imaginations of readers and critics to this day. Harder to capture, however, were the character and personality of the man himself. So few of the essays that appeared in the two years after his death offered new insights into his life, art, and reputation that Hawthorne seemed fated to premature obscurity or, at least, permanent misrepresentation. This first collection of personal reminiscences by those who knew Hawthorne intimately or knew about him through reliable secondary sources rescues him from these confusions and provides the real human history behind the successful writer.
Remembrances from Elizabeth Peabody, Sophia Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis, and twenty others printed in Hawthorne in His Own Time follow him from his childhood in Salem, through his years of initial literary obscurity, his days in the Boston and Salem Custom Houses, his service as U.S. Consul to Liverpool and Manchester and his life in the Anglo-American communities at Rome and Florence, to his late years as the “Great Romancer.”
In their enlightening introduction, editors Ronald Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy assess the postmortem building of Hawthorne’s reputation as well as his relationship to the prominent Transcendentalists, spiritualists, Swedenborgians, and other personalities of his time. By clarifying the sentimental associations between Hawthorne’s writings and his actual personality and moving away from the critical review to the personal narrative, these artful and perceptive reminiscences tell the private and public story of a remarkable life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is universally recognized as one of America's most influential authors and thinkers. Before achieving eminence as lecturer, essayist, and poet, though, he was a Unitaarian preacher. Emerson in His Sermons is the first major study of the sermons since the publication of The Complete Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Susan Roberson examines Emerson's ministerial career from 1826 to 1832, shedding new light on those early, crucial years in Emerson's personal and intellectual development.
Treating the sermons extensively as an autobiographical text, Roberson establishes that Emerson's years in the pulpit were pivotal and that his sermons are key texts in revealing the essential development of his thought. Central to Roberson's explication of the sermons is Emerson's conception of self-reliance, his invention of a new hero for a new age, and his merging of his own identity with that heroic idea.
Roberson focuses on Emerson's reaction to what was perhaps the most signifcant event in his personal life: the death of his young wife, Ellen, of tuberculosis in 1831, after only sixteen months of marriage. Roberson's correlation of the sermons written during that time with the complexity of Emerson's emotional and intellectual response to the tragedy of Ellen's illness and death is the most detailed and sophisticated treatment of that material to date.
Roberson understands Emerson's emergence from the ministry as his rejection of ready-made institutions and sytems of thought. Through her careful readings of the sermons, Roberson finds that Emerson's objective was less the translation of his life into writing than the translation of his life through writing. By considering the sermons in this way, Roberson is able to enrich our understanding of the private and passionte impulses of this seminal thinker.
Emerson in His Sermons offers the first real look at how the sermons fit into Emerson's own development and will have a far-reaching impact on Emerson scholarship. Anyone concerned with the cultural and religious history of America will find this book invaluable.
Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason is a comparative study in transatlantic Romanticism, focusing on Emerson’s part in the American dialogue with British Romanticism and, as filtered through Coleridge, German Idealist philosophy. The book’s guiding theme is the concept of intuitive Reason, which Emerson derived from Coleridge’s distinction between Understanding and Reason and which Emerson associated with that “light of all our day” in his favorite stanza of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality.” Intuitive Reason became the intellectual and emotional foundation of American Transcendentalism. That light radiated out to illuminate Emerson’s life and work, as well as the complex and often covert relationship of a writer who, however fiercely “self-reliant” and “original,” was deeply indebted to his transatlantic precursors.
The debt is intellectual and personal. Emerson’s supposed indifference to, or triumph over, repeated familial tragedy is often attributed to his Idealism—a complacent optimism that blinded him to any vision of the tragic. His “art of losing” may be better understood as a tribute to the “healing power,” the consolation in distress, which Emerson considered Wordsworth’s principal value. The second part of this book traces Emerson’s struggle—with the help of the “benignant influence” shed by that “light of all our day”—to confront and overcome personal tragedy, to attain the equilibrium epitomized in Wordsworth’s “Elegiac Stanzas”: “Not without hope we suffer and we mourn.”
As a study in what has been called “the paradox of originality,” the book should appeal to those interested in the Anglo-American Romantic tradition and the innovations of the individual talent—especially in the capacity of a writer such as Emerson not only to absorb his precursors but also to use them as a stimulus to his own creative power.
Gustaaf Van Cromphout University of Missouri Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS1642.E8V36 1999 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Everyone knows that Emerson was a moralist, but what does that really mean? In an attempt to answer that question, Gustaaf Van Cromphout provides in Emerson's Ethics a detailed and philosophically grounded discussion of Emerson's moral thought. In this first comprehensive study of Emerson's ethics in the broader context of ethical theory, Van Cromphout explores Emerson's answers to what he considered the basic question facing any thinking human being: "How should I live?"
Van Cromphout begins by examining Emerson's college essays on ethics—essays that reflect his response to the moral thought prevailing in his intellectual environment. He then discusses the mature Emerson's attempt to establish ethics on a surer foundation than the religion inherited from his forebears, showing that Emerson was influenced significantly by Kant's moral thought.
He goes on to examine Emerson's search for a morally competent self in an age when the very notion of "self" was under serious threat. The ethical dimension of Emerson's politics and his theories of friendship and love, as well as the quest for a life worth living in the modern world, are also addressed. The last chapters are devoted to nature and literature. Van Cromphout explores Emerson's understanding of nature as a focus of ethical responsibility, and he examines the corruptibility of language, the ethics of self- expression, and the moral responsibilities of writers toward their audiences. Emerson believed that ethics permeated every aspect of human life. By examining Emerson's understanding of ethics and his contribution to ethical thought, Emerson's Ethics shows one of the truly great minds in American culture confronting issues of fundamental relevance to all human beings. Filling an important gap in Emerson studies, this book will appeal not only to readers interested in Emerson and his significance in American thought and literature but also to readers concerned with ethics and, more generally, with the interrelations of literature and philosophy.
Neal Dolan University of Wisconsin Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS1642.S58D65 2009 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Emerson’s Liberalism explains why Ralph Waldo Emerson has been and remains the central literary voice of American culture: he gave ever-fresh and lasting expression to its most fundamental and widely shared liberal values. Liberalism, after all, is more than a political philosophy: it is a form of civilization, a set of values, a culture, a way of representing and living in the world. This book makes explicit what has long been implicit in America’s embrace of Emerson.
Neal Dolan offers the first comprehensive and historically informed exposition of all of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings as a contribution to the theory and practice of liberal culture. Rather than projecting twentieth-century viewpoints onto the past, he restores Emerson’s great body of work to the classical liberal contexts that most decisively shaped its general political-cultural outlook—the libertarian-liberalism of John Locke, the Scottish Enlightenment, the American founders, and the American Whigs.
In addition to in-depth consideration of Emerson’s journals and lectures, Dolan provides original commentary on many of Emerson’s most celebrated published works, including Nature, the “Divinity School Address,” “History,” “Compensation,” “Experience,” the political addresses of the early 1840s, “An Address . . . on . . . The Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies,” Representative Men, English Traits, and The Conduct of Life. He considers Emerson’s distinctive elaborations of foundational liberal values—progress, reason, work, property, limited government, rights, civil society, liberty, commerce, and empiricism. And he argues that Emerson’s ideas are a morally bracing and spiritually inspiring resource for the ongoing sustenance of American culture and civilization, reminding us of the depth, breadth, and strength of our common liberal inheritance.
Emerson's Nonlinear Nature
Christopher J. Windolph University of Missouri Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS1642.P5W56 2007 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
In this provocative study, Christopher Windolph analyzes Emersonian naturalism from the standpoint of nonlinearity, offering new ways of reading and thinking about Emerson’s stance toward naturalism and the influence of science on his thought. Drawing on ideas in perspective theory, architecture, and nonlinear dynamics to argue that Emerson’s natural philosophy follows from his analysis of the development of organic forms, Windolph breaks new ground in Emerson studies by exploring how considerations of shape and the act of seeing underpin all of Emerson’s theories about nature.
Bringing to his study a focused attention to the history of Western science and philosophy, Windolph reexamines Emerson’s understanding of how the act of seeing occurs and of the eye’s ability to see through appearances to organizing principles, showing how Emerson’s naturalism extends beyond the narrow confines of traditional linear science. Through extensive readings of Emerson’s journals, essays, and lectures, Windolph shows that Emerson was an empirical idealist who integrated a scientific approach to nature with an exploration of nonlinear principles, revealing him to be more prescient in his writings about certain recent developments in scientific thought than has been realized.
This work makes a major contribution to the ongoing study of Emerson and science, expanding Emerson’s role as a major American philosopher while rebutting those who see him primarily as a rhetorician or poetic propagandist. Emerson’s Nonlinear Nature opens new ways of thinking about Emerson’s work in its nineteenth-century contexts, reassesses his reception in twentieth-century criticism, and makes a strong case for his continuing relevance in the century ahead.
We live in an era defined by a sense of separation, even in the midst of networked connectivity. As cultural climates sour and divisive political structures spread, we are left wondering about our ties to each other. Consequently, there is no better time than now to reconsider ideas of unity.
In The Ethics of Oneness, Jeremy David Engels reads the Bhagavad Gita alongside the works of American thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. Drawing on this rich combination of traditions, Engels presents the notion that individuals are fundamentally interconnected in their shared divinity. In other words, everything is one. If the lessons of oneness are taken to heart, particularly as they were expressed and celebrated by Whitman, and the ethical challenges of oneness considered seriously, Engels thinks it is possible to counter the pervasive and problematic American ideals of hierarchy, exclusion, violence, and domination.
Writing was the central passion of Emerson’s life. While his thoughts on the craft are well developed in “The Poet,” “The American Scholar,” Nature, “Goethe,” and “Persian Poetry,” less well known are the many pages in his private journals devoted to the relationship between writing and reading. Here, for the first time, is the Concord Sage’s energetic, exuberant, and unconventional advice on the idea of writing, focused and distilled by the preeminent Emerson biographer at work today.
Emerson advised that “the way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.” First We Read, Then We Write contains numerous such surprises—from “every word we speak is million-faced” to “talent alone cannot make a writer”—but it is no mere collection of aphorisms and exhortations. Instead, in Robert Richardson’s hands, the biographical and historical context in which Emerson worked becomes clear. Emerson’s advice grew from his personal experience; in practically every moment of his adult life he was either preparing to write, trying to write, or writing. Richardson shows us an Emerson who is no granite bust but instead is a fully fleshed, creative person disarmingly willing to confront his own failures. Emerson urges his readers to try anything—strategies, tricks, makeshifts—speaking not only of the nuts and bolts of writing but also of the grain and sinew of his determination. Whether a writer by trade or a novice, every reader will find something to treasure in this volume. Fearlessly wrestling with “the birthing stage of art,” Emerson’s counsel on being a reader and writer will be read and reread for years to come.
Impersonality: Seven Essays
Sharon Cameron University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS169.S425C36 2007 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Philosophers have long debated the subjects of person and personhood. Sharon Cameron ushers this debate into the literary realm by considering impersonality in the works of major American writers and figures of international modernism—writers for whom personal identity is inconsequential and even imaginary. In essays on William Empson, Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, T. S. Eliot, and Simone Weil, Cameron examines the impulse to hollow out the core of human distinctiveness, to construct a voice that is no one’s voice, to fashion a character without meaningful attributes, a being that is virtually anonymous.
“To consent to being anonymous,” Weil wrote, “is to bear witness to the truth. But how is this compatible with social life and its labels?” Throughout these essays Cameron examines the friction, even violence, set in motion from such incompatibility—from a “truth” that has no social foundation. Impersonality investigates the uncompromising nature of writing that suspends, eclipses, and even destroys the person as a social, political, or individual entity, of writing that engages with personal identity at the moment when its usual markers vanish or dissolve.
Ellen Tucker Emerson's biography of her mother, Lidian Jackson Emerson, provides important insights into the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson's wife of 46 years. Delores Bird Carpenter has carefully edited this narrative to enhance continuity and to ensure completeness.
George J. Stack traces the sources of ideas and theories that have long been considered the exclusive province of Friedrich Nietzsche to the surprisingly radical writings of the American essayist and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Nietzsche and Emerson makes us see Emerson's writings in a new, more intensified light and presents a new perspective on Nietzsche's philosophy. Stack traces how the rich theoretical ideas and literary images of Emerson entered directly into the existential dimension of Nietzsche's thought and hence into the stream of what has been considered a distinctively European intellectual movement.
From 1929 to the latest issue, American Literature has been the foremost journal expressing the findings of those who study our national literature. The journal has published the best work of literary historians, critics, and bibliographers, ranging from the founders of the discipline to the best current critics and researchers. The longevity of this excellence lends a special distinction to the articles in American Literature. Presented in order of their first appearance, the articles in each volume constitute a revealing record of developing insights and important shifts of critical emphasis. Each article has opened a fresh line of inquiry, established a fresh perspective on a familiar topic, or settled a question that engaged the interest of experts.
In his essay “Compensation,” Ralph Waldo Emerson makes a surprising claim: “Every soul is by this intrinsic necessity quitting its whole system of things, its friends, and home, and laws, and faith, as the shell-fish crawls out of its beautiful but stony case, because it no longer admits of its growth, and slowly forms a new house.”
Branka Arsić unpacks Emerson’s repeated assertion that our reality and our minds are in constant flux. Arsić’s readings of a broad range of Emerson’s writings—the Early Lectures, Journals and Notebooks, and later lectures—are guided by a central question: what does it really mean to maintain that everything fluctuates, is relational, and so changes its identity?
Reading Emerson through this lens, Arsić asks: How is the leaving of one’s own consciousness actually to be performed? What kind of relationship is predicated on the necessity of leaving? What does it mean for our system of values, our ethics and our political allegiances, and even our personal identities to be on the move? The bold new understanding of Emerson that results redefines inherited concepts of the Emersonian individual as all-composed, willful, appropriative, and self-reliant. In its place, Arsić reveals an Emersonian individual whose ideal being is founded in mutability.
The Other Emerson
Branka Arsic University of Minnesota Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS1642.P5O86 2010 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most significant figures in nineteenth-century American literature and culture-indeed, this collection argues, in the history of philosophy. The Other Emerson is a thorough reassessment of the philosophical underpinnings, theoretical innovations, and ethical and political implications of the prose writings of one of America's most enduring thinkers.
Considering Emerson first and foremost as a daring and original thinker, The Other Emerson focuses on three Emersonian subjects-subjectivity, the political, and the nature of philosophy-and range in topic from Emerson's relationships to slavery and mourning to his place in the development of Romanticism as reread by contemporary systems theory. It is Emerson's appreciation of truth's instability that link him to the European philosophical tradition.
Contributors: Eduardo Cadava, Princeton U; Sharon Cameron, Johns Hopkins U; Russell B. Goodman, U of New Mexico; Paul Grimstad, Yale U; Eric Keenaghan, U at Albany, SUNY; Gregg Lambert, Syracuse U; Sandra Laugier, Université de Picardie Jules Verne; Donald Pease, Dartmouth College.
The Poetics of Transition examines the connection between American pragmatism and literary modernism by focusing on the concept of transition as a theme common to both movements. Jonathan Levin begins with the Emersonian notion that transition—the movement from one state or condition to another or, alternately, the figural enactment of that movement—is infused with power. He then offers a revisionary reading of the pragmatists’ view of the permeability of subjective and objective realms and of how American literary modernists stage this permeability in the language and form of their writing. Levin draws on the pragmatist and neopragmatist writings of William James, John Dewey, George Santayana, Richard Rorty, and Cornel West to illuminate the work of modernist literature. In turn, he illuminates the poetic imperatives of pragmatism by tracing the ways in which Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and Wallace Stevens capture the moment of transition—a paradoxical moment that, once it is represented in language or art, requires its own perpetual overcoming. Throughout, he explores how modernist writers, who are masters at recording such “illegible” moments of transition in their poetry and prose, significantly contribute to an expanded understanding of pragmatism and its underlying aesthetics. By linking Emerson with the progressive philosophy of turn-of-the-century pragmatism and the experimentation of American literary modernism, Levin offers new insight into Emerson’s lasting influence on later American philosophers, novelists, and poets. The Poetics of Transition will interest scholars and students in the fields of literary criticism, neopragmatism, literary modernism, and American literature.
The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson; Edited by Ralph H. Orth, Albert J. von Frank, Linda Allardt, & David W. Hill University of Missouri Press, 1986 Library of Congress PS1624.A1 1986 | Dewey Decimal 811.3
Published here in full are Ralph Waldo Emerson's nine poetry notebooks, the single greatest source of information about his creative habits in poetry. Emerson kept rough drafts, revised versions, and fair copies of hundreds of poems in these notebooks, so that the genesis and development of poems both famous and obscure can be traced closely. The notebooks have been remarkably little consulted, primarily because their unedited textual condition makes them difficult to use. This edition makes them accessible to scholars by presenting a faithful transcription of each notebook, a detailed analysis of the history of each poem, an introduction, and a cross-referenced index.
For this edition, the editors have followed the high standards of textual practice developed for Harvard University Press's edition of The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson. That editorial approach makes possible a logical, clear presentation of material that Emerson often jotted down in segments or with multiple erasures and insertions.
Because it will allow scholars to examine as never before the many facets of Emerson the poet, The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson will be a major impetus to study of the man considered by many to be America's greates thinker.
This thought-provoking collection gathers a roster of seasoned Emerson scholars to address anew the way non-American writers and texts influenced Emerson, while also discussing the manner in which Emerson’s writings influenced a diverse array of non-American authors. This volume includes new, original, and engaging research on crucial topics that have for the most part been absent from recent critical literature. While the motivations for this project will be familiar to scholars of literary studies and the history of philosophy, its topics, themes, and texts are distinctly novel. A Power to Translate the World provides a touchstone for a new generation of scholars trying to orient themselves to Emerson’s ongoing relevance to global literature and philosophy.
The Pragmatic Mind is a study of the pragmatism of Emerson, James, and Peirce and its overlooked relevance for the neopragmatism of thinkers like Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Stanley Fish, and Cornel West. Arguing that the "original" pragmatists are too-often cited casually and imprecisely as mere precursors to this contemporary group of American intellectuals, Mark Bauerlein explores the explicit consequences of the earlier group’s work for current debates among and around the neopragmatists. Bauerlein extracts from Emerson, James, and Peirce an intellectual focus that can be used to advance the broad social and academic reforms that the new pragmatists hail. He claims that, in an effort to repudiate the phony universalism of much contemporary theory, the new generation of theorists has ignored the fact that its visions of pragmatic action are grounded in this "old" school, not just in a way of doing things but also in a way of thinking about things. In other words, despite its inclination to regard psychological questions as irrelevant, Bauerlein shows that the pragmatic method demands a pragmatic mind—that is, a concept of cognition, judgment, habit, and belief. He shows that, in fact, such a concept of mind does exist, in the work of the "old" pragmatists.
Challenging the standard periodization of American literary history, Reconstituting the American Renaissance reinterprets the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and the relationship of these two authors to each other. Jay Grossman argues that issues of political representation—involving vexed questions of who shall speak and for whom—lie at the heart of American political and literary discourse from the revolutionary era through the Civil War. By taking the mid-nineteenth-century period, traditionally understood as marking the advent of literary writing in the United States, and restoring to it the ways in which Emerson and Whitman engaged with eighteenth-century controversies, rhetorics, and languages about political representation, Grossman departs significantly from arguments that have traditionally separated American writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Reconstituting the American Renaissance describes how Emerson and Whitman came into the period of their greatest productivity with different conceptions of the functions and political efficacy of the word in the world. It challenges Emerson’s position as Whitman’s necessary precursor and offers a cultural history that emphasizes the two writers’ differences in social class, cultural experience, and political perspective. In their writings between 1830 and 1855, the book finds contrasting conceptions of the relations between the “representative man” and the constituencies to whom, and for whom, he speaks. Reconstituting the American Renaissance opens up the canonical relationship between Emerson and Whitman and multiplies the historical and discursive contexts for understanding their published and unpublished works.
The great American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson and the influential German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, though writing in different eras and ultimately developing significantly different philosophies, both praised the individual's wish to be transformed, to be fully created for the first time. Emerson and Nietzsche challenge us to undertake the task of identity on our own, in order to see (in Nietzsche's phrase) “how one becomes what one is.”
David Mikics's The Romance of Individualism in Emerson and Nietzsche examines the argument, as well as the affinity, between these two philosophers. Nietzsche was an enthusiastic reader of Emerson and inherited from him an interest in provocation as a means of instruction, an understanding of the permanent importance of moods and transitory moments in our lives, and a sense of the revolutionary character of impulse. Both were deliberately outrageous thinkers, striving to shake us out of our complacency.
Rather than choosing between Emerson and Nietzsche, Professor Mikics attends to Nietzsche's struggle with Emerson's example and influence. Elegant in its delivery, The Romance of Individualism in Emerson and Nietzsche offers a significant commentary on the visions of several contemporary theorists whose interests intersect with those of Emerson and Nietzsche, especially Stanley Cavell, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, and Harold Bloom.
Stanley Cavell is a titan of the academic world; his work in aesthetics and philosophy has shaped both fields in the United States over the past forty years. In this brief yet enlightening collection of lectures, Cavell investigates the work of two of his most tried-and-true subjects: Emerson and Wittgenstein. Beginning with an introductory essay that places his own work in a philosophical and historical context, Cavell guides his reader through his thought process when composing and editing his lectures while making larger claims about the influence of institutions on philosophers, and the idea of progress within the discipline of philosophy. In “Declining Decline,” Cavell explains how language modifies human existence, looking specifically at the culture of Wittgenstein’s writings. He draws on Emerson, Thoreau, and many others to make his case that Wittgenstein can indeed be viewed as a “philosopher of culture.” In his final lecture, “Finding as Founding,” Cavell writes in response to Emerson’s “Experience,” and explores the tension between the philosopher and language—that he or she must embrace language as his or her “form of life,” while at the same time surpassing its restrictions. He compares finding new ideas to discovering a previously unknown land in an essay that unabashedly celebrates the power and joy of philosophical thought.
Published here for the first time are seven of Emerson's topical notebooks, which served as a source for his lectures, essays, and books of the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s. Concerned primarily with nature, art, philosophy, American culture, and his comtemporaries, the notebooks presented in this first of a three-volume editions afford fascinating insight into Emerson's creative practices. They will offer new perspectives for future readings of his completed works.
The editors provide faithful transcriptions of the notebooks using the highest standards of textual practice. Their detailed annotations describe and comment on erased or revised passages, translate Greek and Latin quotations, and identify books and articles referred to in the texts of the notebooks. References to similar passages in Emerson's journals, lectures, and published works are also provided in the annotations.
Publication of these notebooks will inable scholars to trace ideas that have gone unnoticed previously. The Topical Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 1, offers valuable insight into the art and philosophy of one of America's foremost thinkers. These volumes will be an important addition to any personal or institutional library of nine-teenth-century American literature.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the magus of of American Transcendentalism, was an inveterate keeper of journals and notebooks, which he used as source and proving ground for his poems, lectures, and essays. This is the second in a three-volume edition that brings twelve of Emerson's topical notebooks and four other notebooks into print for the first time. These notebooks were Emerson's repositories for anecdotes, quotations, reminiscences, drafts of his poems, outlines for lectures, and observations on everything from daily life to profound cultural and philosophical issues.
Among the highlights of the five notebooks in Volume 2, "Orientalist" provides an unusual opportunity to view closely Emerson's adaptation of Eastern thought.
"Ralph Orth...has been indefatigable in giving us volumes of the highest accuracy and usefulness," said American Renaissance Literary Report. Volume 3 completes the series that brings twelve of Emerson's topical notebooks and four other notebooks into print for the first time. In this final volume, Glen Martin Johnson presents four of the topical notebooks dating from the mid 1840s through the early 1870s, the end of Emerson's productive life. The notebooks include diverse material from which Emerson wrote his lectures, essays, and books.
Each of the four notebooks illustrates some of the many uses Emerson made of these collections of quotations and ideas: OP Gulistan is a compendium of biographical information and anecdotes about dozens of Emerson's acquaintances; S Salvage takes stock of and preserves parts of his earlier writings; ZO was used in preparing the lectures that became "Poetry and Imagination"; and ML was employed for extensive notes on the moral law and religion, and as a resource in preparing lectures and readings during the late 1860s.
The publication of these notebooks renders an invaluable service to the scholarly community and to students of American literature. Collectively, they dipict in great detail the subtle changes that occurred in Emerson's thought from the beginning until the end of his career to give a complete picture of the man and the writer. The younger Emerson, whose writing abounds with enthusiasm, became someone whose darker wisdom about inevitable limitations was expressed in essays such as "Fate" and "Illusions." The notebooks in this volume will allow us to better understand the last three decades of Emerson's career, which have remained less than fully explored.
When most critics were using Freudian theories to study literature, Mark Edmundson read Freud’s writings as literature alongside the works of poets grappling with the heady issues of desire, narcissism, and grief. Towards Reading Freud weighs the psychoanalyst’s therapeutic directives against his more visionary impulses in a magisterial comparative study of such writers as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Emerson, and Keats. Cross-fertilizing psychological doctrine with the literary canon, this richly informed volume forges a new understanding of Freud’s writings on the self.
“Marvelous. . . . Edmundson’s book offers an extraordinary challenge both to practicing analysts and to a scholarly community which all too uncomplainingly inhabits and reinforces the Freudian paradigm of interpretation. Edmundson reinvents an adventurous and dissident Freud as an antidote to . . . weary psychoanalytic commonplaces.”—Malcolm Bowie, Raritan
“This book takes a distinguished place in the ongoing effort to recontextualize Freud by stressing the literary, rather than the scientific roots and character of his theory.”—Virginia Quarterly Review
Johannes Voelz offers a critique of the New Americanists through a stimulating and original reexamination of the iconic figure of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Voelz argues against the prevailing tendency among Americanists to see Emerson as the product of an “all-pervasive scope of cultural power.” Instead he shows Emerson’s philosophy to be a deft response to the requirements of lecturing professionally at the newly built lyceums around the country. Voelz brings to light a fascinating organic relationship between Emerson’s dynamic style of thinking and the uplifting experience demanded by his public. This need for an audience-directed philosophy, the author argues, reveals the function of Emerson’s infamous inconsistencies on such issues as representation, identity, and nation. It also poses a major counter-argument to the New Americanists’ dim view of Emerson’s individualism and his vision of the private man in public. Challenging the fundamental premises of the New Americanists, this study is an important, even pathbreaking guide to the future of American studies.
American literary historians have viewed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s resignation from the Unitarian ministry in 1832 in favor of a literary career as emblematic of a main current in American literature. That current is directed toward the possession of a self that is independent and fundamentally opposed to the “accoutrements of society and civilization” and expresses a Transcendentalist antipathy toward all institutionalized forms of religious observance. In the ongoing revision of American literary history, this traditional reading of the supposed anti-institutionalism of the Transcendentalists has been duly detailed and continually supported. Richard A. Grusin challenges both traditional and revisionist interpretations with detailed contextual studies of the hermeneutics of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Theodore Parker. Informed by the past two decades of critical theory, Grusin examines the influence of the higher criticism of the Bible—which focuses on authorship, date, place of origin, circumstances of composition, and the historical credibility of biblical writings—on these writers. The author argues that the Transcendentalist appeal to the authority of the “self” is not an appeal to a source of authority independent of institutions, but to an authority fundamentally innate.
The forces of globalization have transformed literary studies in America, and not for the better. The detailed critical reading of artistic texts has been replaced by newly minted catchphrases describing widely divergent snippets and anecdotes—deemed mere documents—regardless of the critic’s expertise in the appropriate languages and cultures. Visions of Global America and the Future of Critical Reading by Daniel T. O’Hara traces the origin of this global approach to Emerson. But it also demonstrates another, tragic tradition of vision from Henry James that counters the Emersonian global imagination with the hard realities of being human. Building on this tradition, on Lacan’s insights into the Real, and on Badiou’s original theory of truth, O’Hara points to how we can, and should, reground literary study in critical reading.
In Emerson’s classic essay “Experience” (1844), America appears in and as a symptom of the critic’s self-making that sacrifices the power of love to this visionary project—a literary version of the American self-made man. O’Hara rescues critical reading using James’s late work, especially The Golden Bowl (1904), and builds on this vision with examinations of texts by St. Paul, Emerson, Wallace Stevens, James Purdy, John Cheever, James Baldwin, John Ashbery, and others.