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Emerson's Essays Paperback – Jul 24 1981
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About the Author
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1803. A self-proclaimed "Naturalist," Emerson founded a distinctly American philosophy emphasizing optimism, individuality, and mysticism. In the 1840's, his essays, speeches, and poetry defined him as a central character in the Trancendental movement, and ultimately shaped him into one of the most influential literary figures of the nineteenth century. He died of pneumonia in 1882 in Concord, Massachusetts.
Top Customer Reviews
About the content... Well, this is the one and only book where I could honestly, say that I support everything and stand behind everything the author claims... My heart is completly in-line with his writings. Or rather, everything he said made sense, in a balls-to-bone sort of way. This book has essays that empowers you, sort of like Anthony robbins, but in a much more stronger way, because its not based on 'practical habits', or 'positive thinking', but an exploration on the incredibleness of the human soul, that are more than just thought provoking...They are inspiring, not in just an example-giving kind of way, or "you could be like this" sort of way... It is simply truth, as one man saw fit, in a most honest, clear, and literate way. Even Nietszche was in total awe of everything Emerson wrote, saying emerson's soul was basically something in the heavens.
Yes, transcendentalism is the label to his philosophies, but Emerson doesn't really write "philosophies", he simply writes (with mathmatical like precision), his ideas about man, that start without any prior knowledge or terms necessary to read it.. It is as clean and laser-like in his explanations, and it has the strength of a mathematical proof, and has the heart and sincerity that truly makes the soul of the reader come alive, even soar at times.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A must read for those of all ages and in all walks of life. Emerson will bring universality of the human experince into greater focus, promoting an understanding that regardless of first impressions, people have much more in common than initially percieved.
Emerson's metaphysics alternates among a quasi-pantheistic belief in the unity of humanity, nature, and God; a monistic view that All is One; a mystical channeling of universal truths; and an anthropocentric faith in the primacy of human experience. Through reflection and meditation, humans can experience God. "Ineffable is the union of man and God in every act of the soul," he writes in the essay titled "The Over-Soul." "The simplest person who in his integrity worships God, becomes God."
The form of Emerson's "essays" displays his training as a preacher, and his lectures served as rough drafts; but, although they read like sermons, they are more like prose poems, heavily indebted to Plutarch, Plotinus, and Montaigne. In addition to "Self-Reliance" and "The Over-Soul," the most important of these essays are probably "History," "Compensation," and "The Poet." Anecdotes, evidence, and "scientific" observation play a minor role in his writing, and transitional devices are sparse; his essays are built instead of argument by aphorism, chains of clever and commonsensical quips, and contemplative reflection in a nearly conversational style. (A friend of mine once joked, perceptively, that the Quotable Emerson would be pretty much the same as the unabridged version of the book you have here.)
Emerson's idealism and romanticism can seem hopelessly abstract--a failing that carried over into his personal relations. (Responding to his discussion on "Friendship," Caroline Sturgis wrote to him, "With all your faith in Man, you have but little faith in men.") The ambiguities of his writing and their myriad interpretations have provided the foundations for disparate schools of thought. On the one hand, his philosophic arguments and literary characteristics anticipate Walt Whitman's ode to the self, Nietzsche's "ubermensch," Williams James's "stream-of-consciousness," Dewey's instrumentalism, and Jung's concept of the universal unconscious or racial memory. On the other hand, there is a direct descent from the sermonizing, inspirational quality of Emerson's works to various strands of New Thought spiritualism, the motivational guides of Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, and the ongoing popularity of books by self-help gurus. (Indeed, one could argue that Emerson's books established the genre in America.)
It is impossible, then, to overstate Emerson's influence on subsequent literature and thought, both highbrow and mass-market. Many (perhaps most) of today's readers might be turned off by the abstract Neo-Platonism of Emerson's work, and his seemingly endless stream of metaphors and maxims can be, at times, somnambulistic. (I personally find his philosophy completely alien to my own worldview.) But even so, Emerson should be read in order to understand both the phenomenon of New England transcendentalism, which may well be the only uniquely American philosophy of the nineteenth century, and the rise of individualism, which donned a uniquely American character during the twentieth.
I have been reading and teaching his philosophy for over 20 years. Read it aloud to yourself and allow your self to walk along with one of the greatest spirits we've ever known. I remember reading him in college and not getting it entirely but now I take the time to savor the wisdom on each page. No matter if you are reading in his Essay on Compensation or spiritual laws you will be impressed that he was speaking with equisite intelligence about laws and ideas that the world is only now coming to embrace. ( I hear his words spoken through Louise Hay "You can heal your life" E Tolle, The Secret, Ernest Holmes's Science of Mind and the Filmores of Unity. If you take the time to savor the essay on "History" you will hear a man describe the evolution of conciousness, the awakening of mankind. Sure he wrote during another time and its a little work. Theres so much good here, It is worth ALL the effort. Join a study group and read it aloud.. It is a gift to yourself! Namaste! Rev Greg Hollywood Florida Center for Positive and Spiritual Living
Once reading Emerson, you are launched into a new realm of intensely deep writing. This man's insights broaden the mind.