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Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Journals by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author), Lawrence Rosenwald (Editor)

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Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Journals by Ralph Waldo Emerson  (Author), Lawrence Rosenwald (Editor)
   
  
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'Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Journals 1820-1842 '
By Ralph Waldo Emerson  (Author), Lawrence Rosenwald (Editor)​


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'Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Journals 1841-1877'
By Ralph Waldo Emerson  (Author), Lawrence Rosenwald (Editor)​

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Description:


When Emerson died in 1882 he was the most famous public intellectual in America. Yet his most remarkable literary creation-his journals- remained unpublished. Begun when he was a precocious Harvard junior of 16 and continued without significant lapse for almost 60 years, Emerson's journals were his life's work. They were the starting point for virtually everything in his celebrated essays, lectures, and poems; a "Savings Bank," in which his occasional insights began to cohere and yield interest; a commonplace book, in which he gathered the choicest anecdotes, ideas, and phrases from his voracious and wide-ranging reading; and a fascinating diary in the ordinary sense of the term. It would be a hundred years after his death before these intimate records would appear in print in their entirety, and they are still, at over three million words, among the least known and least available of Emerson's writings. The journals reveal what Emerson called "the infinitude of the private man"-by turns whimsical, incisive, passionate, curious, and candid-in astonishing new ways. 

With Selected Journals 1841-1877 and its companion volume Selected Journals 1820-1842, The Library of America presents the most ample and comprehensive nonspecialist edition of Emerson's great work ever published-one that retains the original order in which he composed his thoughts and preserves the dramatic range of his unique style in long, uninterrupted passages, but without the daunting critical apparatus of the 16-volume scholarly edition. 

This volume opens with an Emerson at the height of his powers, soon to write his celebrated essays "Experience" and "Self-Reliance," and in the midst of a vibrant intellectual circle. It follows his anguished reactions to the nation's intensifying political turmoil: his anger at the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, his antislavery activism, and his day- to-day experience of the Civil War (including a wartime trip to Washington, D.C., where he met President Lincoln). Along the way, he laments untimely losses: his first-born son Waldo at the age of five, and his friends Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Fuller. By the end of his life, Emerson was a revered national figure; the volume includes his final journal writings. 

Edited by Lawrence Rosenwald-Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature at Wellesley College and author of Emerson and the Art of the Diary
-each volume includes a 16-page portfolio of images of Emerson and his contemporaries, a note on the selections, extensive notes, biographical sketches, a chronology, and an index.
 
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In 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted in 2,000 Years of Freethought edited by Jim Haught.) By 1832, after the untimely death of his first wife, Emerson cut loose from Unitarianism. During a year-long trip to Europe, Emerson became acquainted with such intelligentsia as British writer Thomas Carlyle, and poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. He returned to the United States in 1833, to a life as poet, writer and lecturer. Emerson inspired Transcendentalism, although never adopting the label himself. He rejected traditional ideas of deity in favor of an "Over-Soul" or "Form of Good," ideas which were considered highly heretical. His books include Nature (1836),The American Scholar (1837), Divinity School Address (1838), Essays, 2 vol. (1841, 1844),Nature, Addresses and Lectures (1849), and three volumes of poetry. Margaret Fuller became one of his "disciples," as did Henry David Thoreau.

The best of Emerson's rather wordy writing survives as epigrams, such as the famous: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Other one- (and two-) liners include: "As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect" (Self-Reliance, 1841). "The most tedious of all discourses are on the subject of the Supreme Being" (Journal, 1836). "The word miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches, gives a false impression; it is a monster. It is not one with the blowing clover and the falling rain" (Address to Harvard Divinity College, July 15, 1838). He demolished the right wing hypocrites of his era in his essay "Worship": ". . . the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons" (Conduct of Life, 1860). "I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship" (Self-Reliance). "The first and last lesson of religion is, 'The things that are seen are temporal; the things that are not seen are eternal.' It puts an affront upon nature" (English Traits , 1856). "The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant." (Civilization, 1862). He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche
, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity. D. 1882.

 

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