The Annotated Emerson by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Synopsis

A brilliant essayist and a master of the aphorism (“Our moods do not believe in each other”; “Money often costs too much”), Emerson has inspired countless writers. He challenged Americans to shut their ears against Europe’s “courtly muses” and to forge a new, distinctly American cultural identity. But he remains one of America’s least understood writers. And, by his own admission, he spawned neither school nor follower (he valued independent thought too much). Now, in this annotated selection of Emerson’s writings, David Mikics instructs the reader in a larger appreciation of Emerson’s essential works and the remarkable thinker who produced them.

Full of color illustrations and rich in archival photographs, this volume offers much for the specialist and general reader. In his running commentaries on Emerson’s essays, addresses, and poems, Mikics illuminates contexts, allusions, and language likely to cause difficulty to modern readers. He quotes extensively from Emerson’s Journal to shed light on particular passages or lines and examines Emerson the essayist, poet, itinerant lecturer, and political activist. Finally, in his Foreword, Phillip Lopate makes the case for Emerson as a spectacular truth teller—a model of intellectual labor and anti-dogmatic sanity.

Anyone who values Emerson will want to own this edition. Those wishing to discover, or to 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 The Annotated Emerson.

 

About Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Known primarily as the leader of the philosophical movement transcendentalism, which stresses the ties of humans to nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and essayist, was born in Boston in 1803. From a long line of religious leaders, Emerson became the minister of the Second Church (Unitarian) in 1829. He left the church in 1832 because of profound differences in interpretation and doubts about church doctrine. He visited England and met with British writers and philosophers. It was during this first excursion abroad that Emerson formulated his ideas for Self-Reliance. He returned to the United States in 1833 and settled in Concord, Massachusetts. He began lecturing in Boston. His first book, Nature (1836), published anonymously, detailed his belief and has come to be regarded as his most significant original work on the essence of his philosophy of transcendentalism. The first volume of Essays (1841) contained some of Emerson's most popular works, including the renowned Self-Reliance. Emerson befriended and influenced a number of American authors including Henry David Thoreau. It was Emerson's practice of keeping a journal that inspired Thoreau to do the same and set the stage for Thoreau's experiences at Walden Pond. Emerson married twice (his first wife Ellen died in 1831 of tuberculosis) and had four children (two boys and two girls) with his second wife, Lydia. His first born, Waldo, died at age six. Emerson died in Concord on April 27, 1882 at the age of 78 and is buried in Sleepy Hollow. David Mikics is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of English at the University of Houston. Phillip Lopate is a professor at Columbia University, where he directs the graduate nonfiction program.
 
Published February 7, 2012 by Belknap Press. 576 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Annotated Emerson

Publishers Weekly

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The #1 essayist and pure prose stylist in U.S. literature is on grand display in this lavish edition of essays, poems, and passages from Emerson’s voluminous journals. The neophyte entering the Emerso

Oct 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The Annotated Emerson

Publishers Weekly

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The #1 essayist and pure prose stylist in U.S. literature is on grand display in this lavish edition of essays, poems, and passages from Emerson’s voluminous journals. The neophyte entering the Emerso

Oct 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Annotated Emerson

New York Journal of Books

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“What emerges from this authoritative yet accessible collection is a portrait of one of America’s most original and intuitive thinkers, a man for all seasons, along with the fruits of his writing.

Feb 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Annotated Emerson

New York Journal of Books

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“What emerges from this authoritative yet accessible collection is a portrait of one of America’s most original and intuitive thinkers, a man for all seasons, along with the fruits of his writing. We owe editor David Mikics and the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press a debt of thanks for th...

Feb 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Annotated Emerson

New York Journal of Books

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“What emerges from this authoritative yet accessible collection is a portrait of one of America’s most original and intuitive thinkers, a man for all seasons, along with the fruits of his writing. We owe editor David Mikics and the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press a debt of thanks for th...

Feb 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Annotated Emerson

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