By Joel Myerson
There is not any query that Emerson has maintained his position as one of many seminal figures in American background and literature. In his time, he was once the stated chief of the Transcendentalist circulate and his poetic legacy, schooling beliefs, and non secular strategies are crucial to the formation of yankee highbrow lifestyles. during this quantity, Joel Myerson, one of many major specialists in this interval, has collected jointly glowing new essays that debate Emerson as a made from his instances. person chapters supply a longer biographical learn of Emerson and his impact on American existence, by way of reports of his suggestion of individualism, nature and ordinary technological know-how, faith, antislavery, and women's rights.
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Additional resources for A Historical Guide to Ralph Waldo Emerson (Historical Guides to American Authors)
In May 1834, after settling a legal dispute with her family, Emerson received the first of two inheritances from Ellen Emerson's estate. The $11,600 he received at this time (he would receive another payment of $11,675 in July 1837) enabled him to pay off his debts, see to the security of his mother, who depended on him and his brother William for financial support, and leave Boston for Concord, the Emerson family's ancestral home. A few months earlier—probably in March—he had met Lydia Jackson of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and following a tenmonth courtship, he proposed to her in January 1835.
11 From Adams's historical perspective—he was writing at the end of the century—and from Emerson's immediate perspective, broad strokes of mid-nineteenth-century American experience not only confirmed their ideal conception of the ultimate end of this "great democracy" but also established the mythic terms that, now fully assimilated into American culture, intellectual historians and politicians invoke in modern contexts today. Those broad strokes of American social history included the opening of the American West and the discovery of unimagined natural resources along the way; the legitimation of political doctrines such as Manifest Destiny; the promotion of education, labor laws, sanitation and health care, and other reforms for the public good; the coming of age of the print industry in America, which coincided with the beginning of the lyceum movement as means to disseminate ideas, history, and art, as well as news and information, to the populace; the rise of a distinctively American literary class, which included Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Walt Whitman, among many others, who addressed American subjects directly to an American audience; and the progress of experimental science and invention, which revolutionized industry, medicine, and agriculture in America and facilitated geographic expansion.
In a burst of rage, Emerson attacked Napoleon's character, noting that he was "singularly destitute of generous sentiments," lacked "the merit of common truth and honesty," and was unjust, egotistic, monopolizing, and thoroughly unscrupulous. "In short," he concluded, "when you have 38 Ralph Waldo Emerson penetrated through all the circles of [Napoleon's] power and splendour, you [are] not dealing with a gentleman at last, but with an impostor and a rogue" (CW, 4:145-46). Among Emerson's major works, Representative Men is one of the most difficult to account for as an expression of his idealistic philosophy.
A Historical Guide to Ralph Waldo Emerson (Historical Guides to American Authors) by Joel Myerson
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