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First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process Hardcover


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First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process + Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind + Emerson: The Mind on Fire (Centennial Books)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587297930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587297939
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Robert Richardson has done exquisite service both to Emerson and to the many readers this book will surely attract and leave with a deeper understanding of Emerson the writer. How many of us have read through all the journals to gather his thoughts, often private, uncontained in the essays, about the actual work of turning language into the fertile body of expressed thought? As in his biography of Emerson, The Mind on Fire, we are recipients again of Richardson’s scholarship, his unflagging, inquisitive, humanist unveiling of the great Emerson’s thoughts.”—Mary Oliver


"In this brief, elegant, and quietly passionate volume Robert Richardson has produced an invaluable handbook for the writer and aspirant writer, a copy of which should be presented to every student in every writing class around the world, for it is a serious course he is embarked on, in which he must learn to write not in the hope of expressing his puny self but to be, among other things, a guardian of language."-John Banville, The New York Review of Books


“Richardson is Emerson’s foremost biographer, and he has culled the great man’s work for the kind of specific, timeless instruction that makes the difference between good writing and great writing. This is the book on writing that Emerson would have used to teach his lucky students. The chapter on sentences sparkles, and it alone is worth the purchase. Everyone who wants to learn about writing should read this book.”—Susan Cheever, author, American Bloomsbury and Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction

About the Author

Robert D. Richardson is the author of William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism, which won the 2007 Bancroft Prize, Emerson: The Mind on Fire, which won both the Francis Parkman Prize and the Melcher Book Award and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, which also won the Melcher Book Award.

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Customer Reviews

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A must read for scholars and poets and general readers alike.
bookbestcrtitic
Professor Richardson brings a lifetime of acquired knowledge to this fine summary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's scattered expressions related to both reading and writing.
Christian Schlect
Read book with wine, enough to induce hope or facilitate grieving, but not so much that you are unable to take notes.
Guttersnipe Das

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Guttersnipe Das on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Instructions: Buy this book -- but don't read it. Not immediately. Keep it on hand. Buy a nice bottle of wine. Nothing exorbitant, but better than you'd ordinarily buy for yourself. Save both book and wine for a solitary despairing evening with bad weather. An evening on which you are pretty much certain that you are a lost cause. Read book with wine, enough to induce hope or facilitate grieving, but not so much that you are unable to take notes. As this is a slightly expensive book, and only long enough for one sitting -- and because it is excellent and powerful medicine -- you should save it for when you most need it. Then, if you like, you can give the book as a gift when visiting a particularly important friend -- in lieu of the wine, which you drank.

Everything Robert D. Richardson writes is phenomenal -- elegant and life-giving. He has a unique ability to turn gigantic feats of research into pure inspiration. On the way to learning about Emerson, I learn also how to live. The biographies of Thoreau, Emerson and James are all essential -- and I hope very much that there is still more to come.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is as much about Ralph Waldo Emerson as it is about reading and writing. It reveals the books he read as well as the way he thought and wrote. Thinking was not part of the title but it was clear that it is every bit as important. Emerson was an intellectual in that he read, thought, and wrote. That is the intellectual's life and anyone aspiring to that life would find this a helpful book. "There is always a right word, and every other that is wrong." This book also discussed the writers who had influenced Emerson; writers like Goethe and Shakespeare.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By beacon on March 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No need to have read Emerson before reading this book, however, it will probably make you want to explore more and read him.

Great advice for writers and enjoyment in the discoveries.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By bookbestcrtitic on February 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
An excellent, wonderfully readable and insightful study of the great Emerson. A must read for scholars and poets and general readers alike.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By P. Stern on January 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow, what a little depth-charge of a book! With Richardson as our guide, Emerson speaks encouragement and harsh wisdom to would-be writers. A thrilling read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frosty on December 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Richardson is a brilliant biographer of William James, Henry Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson's biography is the best I have ever read. Richardson continues with a discussion of Emerson's essays on reading and writing, again brilliantly done. Thank you, Robert Richardson!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on November 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you know a student or fledging author in need of a thoughtful gift, consider the purchase of this book on the essence of that most useful creative art, writing. (Or, buy it for yourself.)

Professor Richardson brings a lifetime of acquired knowledge to this fine summary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's scattered expressions related to both reading and writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Geldard on April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Richardson's fine biographies of Thoreau, Emerson and William James have a treasured place in my library, as does this little gem of a book. It should be required reading for every college freshman, and not just read but studied and discussed. Emerson is Richardson's guide on the journey to becoming a good writer. We learn that we begin with the well crafted sentence, and Emerson's sentences are the most famous and quotable in American literature. "If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me," and then "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know." In other words, read Emerson and Richardson and find yourself.
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