The American Scholar
27 pages
English

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27 pages
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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), more commonly referred to as simply Waldo, was an American lecturer, essayist, poet, philosopher, and leader of the mid-1900s transcendentalist movement. Emerson wrote on a number of subjects and became a symbol of individualism, presenting his ideas through his many essays and over 1,500 lectures. On August 31, 1837 at the First Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Emerson first gave his speech "The American Scholar" in front of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College. Within it, he employs Transcendentalist and Romantic ideas in an attempt to explain an American scholar's relationship to nature. A fascinating speech that will appeal to those with an interest in the transcendentalist movement and philosophy in general. Other notable works by this author include: "Nature" (1836), “Poems” (1847), and “Nature, Addresses and Lectures” (1849). Read & Co. Great Essays is proudly republishing this classic lecture now in a new edition complete with an introductory biography of the author by William Peterfield Trent.

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Publié par
Date de parution 07 décembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781528791601
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Exrait

THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR
By
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
WITH A BIOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM PETERFIELD TRENT

First published in 1837



Copyright © 2020 Read & Co. Great Essays
This edition is published by Read & Co. Great Essays, an imprint of Read & Co.
This book is copyright and may not be reproduced or copied in any way without the express permission of the publisher in writing.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Read & Co. is part of Read Books Ltd. For more information visit www.readandcobooks.co.uk




Contents
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
By William Peterfield Trent
THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR
FOOTNOTES


RALPH WALDO EMERSON
By William Peterfield Trent
A famous American poet and essayist, born in Boston, Mass., May 25, 1803. His parents were the Rev. William Emerson and Ruth Haskins, and from them he received the training that the better class of New England parents bestowed upon their children. His boyhood was passed mainly in Boston. At the age of twenty be was graduated from Harvard College, and taught school for a time; then, like a large number of the educated youth of New England at that time, he studied for the ministry. He was ordained March 11, 1829, and became the colleague of Rev. Henry Ware, pastor of the Second Church (Unitarian) of Boston. In September of the same year he married Miss Ellen Louisa Tucker, who died in February, 1832. Shortly after his association with Ware the latter retired from active service and Emerson became pastor of the church, one of the foremost in New England. On September 9, 1832, however, he resigned his office, saying, in his farewell sermon, that he had ceased to regard the Lord's Supper as a necessary rite, and that he was unwilling longer to administer it. Up to that time he had been known as a rather able, earnest, and pleasing preacher; he now entered upon his lifelong career as lecturer and essayist.
In the tall of 1833 he took his first trip to Europe, where he visited Sicily, Italy, France, and England, and met several well-known Englishmen, among them Landor and Carlyle. In September, 1835, he married Miss Lidian Jackson. The winters of 1835, 1836, and 1837 were marked by aeries of lectures, delivered in Boston, on “English Literature,” “The Philosophy of History,” and “Human Culture.” His more elaborated statement of belief, however, was to be found in his first published book, Nature (1836), given out anonymously, but soon attributed to him. The volume had a small sale and received almost no popular notice, but it was important as an exposition of the basis of Emerson's philosophy, and was accepted by such men as Carlyle as worthy doctrine. Briefly, it was a phrasing of the idealist view of human life, as opposed to the materialist, then common in England and America, and the Calvinist dogma, then still pervasive in New England, and he made the essay a plea for individual freedom. The following year, on August 31st, Emerson delivered the Phi Beta Kappa oration at Harvard College on “The American Scholar.” This was called by Holmes the ‘intellectual declaration of independence’ for America. Containing, in general, the lofty ethical principles of the author, it is, in particular, a sober and earnest exhortation of his hearers to lead their lives with thoughtfulness, austerity, and self-trust, not leaning for support on the traditions and precepts of the past, but cleaving a way independently in the present. The following year was also notable for proclamations of emancipation. July 15th he delivered an address before the students of the Divinity School at Cambridge expressing his belief in the validity of individual thinking in religious affairs, and on the 24th of the same month he set forth the same general point of view at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, in a lecture called “Literary Ethics.” The first of these incited a warm and widespread controversy, in which Emerson, as usual, took no active part. Throughout his life he never did more than state his views in his own vigorous and winning language, content to let others carry on the discussion which he might have aroused, or body forth in some practical form the impulse which he had given them.
In 1841 the first series of his Essays appeared. The volume contained several of the papers which have remained of all his work the most popular. It comprised “History,” “Self-Reliance,” “Compensation,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Love,” “Friendship,” “Prudence,” “Heroism,” “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” “Intellect,” and “Art.” The second series of Essays appeared in 1844, containing such titles as “The Poet,” “Manners,” “Character.” In the interval between these two volumes Emerson had done much writing for the Dial , the organ of New England idealism, or Transcendentalism as it was called. The paper was started in 1840 with Margaret Fuller as editor. Emerson himself succeeded her and remained editor till the collapse of the enterprise in 1844. With the other and better-known experiment of the Transcendentalists, the Brook Farm Community, Emerson had little to do. In 1847 appeared the first volume of Emerson's poems, many of which had been published in the Dial during its brief existence. In the same year be wrote the editor's address for the newly founded Massachusetts Quarterly Review , but did no further writing for it. In October he set sail for Europe for the second time. He delivered in England a series of lectures, some of which he gathered together in a volume entitled Representative Men (1850). The subject suggests Carlyle's Heroes and Hero-Worship of ten years before; but the treatment of the subjects and the manner of approaching them are different. With Carlyle, the hero, be it in war or in letters, is the man who molds the way of the world; with Emerson the representative man is so called simply because he stands for an ideal of individual integrity — a character whence springs his worth. The journey to Europe also resulted in 1856 in a brilliant book of travel, English Traits . In 1860 appeared The Conduct of Life , a volume of essavs on such subjects as “Power,” “Wealth,” “Fate,” and “Culture.” This was followed in 1867 by a collection of poems, which had previously been published in the Dial and the Atlantic Monthly , entitled May-Day and Other Pieces , and in 1870 by another volume of ethical essays, Society and Solitude . During the winters of 1868-70 Emerson delivered a series of lectures at Harvard College on the Natural History of Intellect , which were posthumously published (1893). He made his third and last voyage to Europe in 1872. From about this time on his memory began to show signs of giving way, and, though he retained to the end of his life his command of his general ethical principles, his work after 1875 was fragmentary and scattering. In 1874 he made a collection of favorite poems, which he called Parnassus , and the following year his last volume of essays, Letters and Social Aims , appeared. A revised edition of his poems followed in 1878, and the same year were published a lecture on the “Sovereignty of Ethics,” and one on the “Fortunes of the Republic.” His death, which came after a short illness, occurred at Concord, Mass., April 27, 1882.
Emerson is described as tall and slender. He was nearly six feet in height and weighed about 140 pounds. He was not erect in carriage. His head was rather small in dimension, long and narrow, but lofty and symmetrical. “His face,” says Holmes, “was thin, his nose somewhat accipitrine, casting a broad shadow; his mouth rather wide, well formed and well closed, carrying a question and an assertion in its finely finished curves; the lower lip a little prominent, the chin shapely and firm. His whole look was irradiated by an ever-active inquiring intelligence, His manner was noble and gracious.” His personal habits were of the simplest sort, but were in no wise ascetic. He is said to have been somewhat oppressed by a feeling, not uncommon among New Englanders, of the more refined sort of physical insufficiency; and this trait may account for the fact that he rarely gave himself to active measures, but chose to live the contemplative life.
Emerson takes rank among the foremost writers of his time. All his prose, with the possible exception of one or two chapters in English Traits and a few biographical sketches, may be strictly called essays. They represent a point of view of singular unity and persistence, and the chronology is really unimportant. Possibly the addresses printed in the volume called Nature , together with that tract, all of which were written before 1845, represent a slightly more enthusiastic and zealous spirit than the later essays, and are rather more specific in subject. But, in the main, all the essays set forth a constant and enthusiastic belief in the value of individuality and the need of every man's planting himself in the ground of his own consciousness and natural affection. Being himself a man of many intuitions and of wonderful vigor in phrasing them, he is to be regarded as a prophet rather than as a philosopher. He sought to construct no system, but stood for a constant idealistic impulse. What he wrote was not based primarily on experience, nor did he ever write as the so-called man of the world.
Emerson's poetry is written from much the same point of view as his prose. W

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