Ralph Waldo Emerson



This Massachusetts-born leader of the American transcendentalist movement was as much a philosopher as he was a writer, and his ideas on the relationship between man, nature, the divine soul, and creativity helped shape the American literary identity of the 19th century. Leading other transcendentalists like Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Fuller, Emerson sought to recreate the American literary aesthetic, calling for a more original, more organic, more spiritually independent literature. He denounced over reliance on book learning, writing: "I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system." His essays, "Nature" (1836), "The American Scholar" (1837), and "the Divinity School Address" (1838) form the foundation of his transcendentalist theories and are undoubtedly his most well-known works. He also published three collections of poetry, and The Conduct of Life (1860), a collection of personal essays on a variety of subjects, including fate, wealth, worship, and beauty.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson


Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.


We live by our imaginations, by our admirations, by our sentiments.

Montaigne; or, the skeptic

If there is a wish for immortality, and no evidence, why not say just that? If there are conflicting evidences, why not state them? If there is not ground for a candid thinker to make up his mind, yea or nay,--why not suspend the judgment?

The over-soul

We are wiser than we know. If we will not interfere with our thought, but will act entirely, or see how the thing stands in God, we know the particular thing, and every thing, and every man.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

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