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The Annotated Emerson Hardcover – March 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Mikics's annotations are gracious, helpful, and genuinely illuminating. This is a 'reader's edition' in the truest sense. (Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Impressive in its thoroughness… the author's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. (Paul Kane, Vassar College)

David Mikics's The Annotated Emerson is the best possible introduction to Emerson's prose and poetry. (Harold Bloom)

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 Emersonian universe, as opposed to the scholar, is best served by Mikics's careful annotations and cogent commentary surrounding these selections, though even the most knowledgeable scholar would benefit. (Publishers Weekly (starred review) 2011-10-31)

In his writing, Emerson favored fire imagery, and his own fiery intellect brightens every page of The Annotated Emerson, a wonderful new collection, meticulously annotated by David Mikics...In the lush pages of The Annotated Emerson readers will find that fire still warm, able to illuminate and sear. (Daniel Dyer Cleveland Plain Dealer 2012-02-06)

What a pleasure to have, in The Annotated Emerson, a lovely and helpful version of many of Emerson's bests, gathered and annotated by David Mikics and introduced by Phillip Lopate. This is in no way Emerson lite. These are not shortcuts but rather a welcome frame for Emerson's particular kind of difficulty. The book's introductions curate the voluminous career, and the wide margins of the pages, dappled with thoughtful notes, give the meditations space to unfurl. This is a book that gives us each hope to approach the "new yet unapproachable" Emerson. Any lay reader will find an open door here. Those who already love Emerson and know him well may find a few cherished things missing, but they may also find a few things they didn't know they wanted to find. (Tess Gallagher Barnes & Noble Review 2012-02-21)

Editor Mikics has selected the best known of Emerson's works but also includes excerpts from his journals, selections from lesser-read books, and a number of his poems. The volume is prefaced by a thoughtful foreword by Philip Lopate and a very useful editor's introduction...All in all, this handsome edition will be useful both to newcomers and to Emerson vets. (Margaret Heilbrun Library Journal 2012-03-01)

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote essays about Shakespeare, John Brown, Stonehenge, Montaigne, best friend Henry David Thoreau, circles, nature, and self-reliance. One of his most famous lines--"the shot heard round the world" from his poem "Concord Hymn"--is still used to describe singular events in sports and history. The Annotated Emerson, edited by David Mikics, an English professor at the University of Houston, explains language and allusions that may be foreign to today's readers. By doing this, Mikics makes a great American essayist, whom Phillip Lopate in his foreword calls a "hero of intellectual labor," readily accessible to a new generation. (Jan Gardner Boston Globe 2012-03-25)

Copiously annotated, richly illustrated and handsomely bound, a volume all lovers not just of literature but of freedom will want on their shelves…[Emerson's] astute observations and generous vision of the world within and without still have much to teach. (William Yeoman West Australian 2012-04-06)

Mikics has put together a handsome edition of Emerson's most popular and enduring work. First-time readers of Emerson will find the collection useful because the annotations reference the common occurrences of Emerson's attention and, along with the illustrations, place Emerson's work in the context of the 19th century. More-experienced readers of Emerson will value the many annotations that reference his journals, letters, and other essays not gathered here. (R. T. Prus Choice 2012-07-01)

About the Author

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; Annotated edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674049233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674049239
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 9.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

There are few people as quoted and quotable as Ralph Waldo Emerson, founder of the transcendental movement and author of classic essays as Self-Reliance, Nature, and The American Scholar. Emerson began his career as a Unitarian minister and later put those oratory skills to move us toward a better society. More remains written on him than by him.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By James Strock VINE VOICE on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a monumental figure of the 19th century. In the 20th century he became remote. First, he was relegated to the assigned reading lists of high schools everywhere--the kind of book you read too young, if at all, and likely never returned to. Later, some fashionable scholars would attempt to marginalize his work crudely, amid that of other "dead white males."

Emerson's America (he lived from 1803-1882) was a place of entrepreneurial enterprise, often on a small scale. His credo of individualism and freedom fit well to a nation that was yet to reach the heights of 20th century industrialism and centralized organizations. As the US headed toward what was called, in the mid-20th century, 'The New Industrial State,' Emerson's essays appeared less relevant, even quaint.

In the Information Age, Emerson is, increasingly, newly relevant. If there is a philosopher for the era of Tom Peter's 'Brand You' (in addition to Peters himself), surely it's Emerson.

'The Annotated Emerson' does a great service in introducing Emerson to a new generation, a new century. The foreword by Phillip Lopate is at once thorough and approachable. It makes the case for Emerson well.

The selections are edited and annotated by David Mikics. The interior design is memorable, beautifully rendered. Each selection has numerous notes, concisely included on the same page for ease of use. In some cases, illustrations are included. Taken together, these features enable contemporary readers to comprehend otherwise distant references. They also point toward additional areas of inquiry. Each page also includes sufficient space for readers to make their own notes, to truly make the book useful as a reference to return to.

The last point is important.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By areukind on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thank you David Mikics and Harvard University Press. It's only been a few days, but I can't help thinking that this book had to have been born from a labor of love and that the current offer to sell it for a mere $22 on amazon makes it more of a gift to the world than a transaction. In Buddhism there is the idea that the dharma should be given freely. I can't help but think of you folks in that light... spreading the dharma of Emerson. Thank you.

Anyone who loves Emerson should love this book. The selection of material is well chosen and the annotations are great. Besides helping the reader understand some of the references Emerson used in his writing, references that readers like me might otherwise skip over, there are also plenty of pictures that help one imagine Emerson's world.. what it might have been like walking in his shoes. The pages are luxuriously large (9.5 high by 9 wide) and the text large enough and un-cramped. As a previous reviewer observed, there's plenty of room on the pages to take your own notes and the author's notes all appear on the same page as they're referenced from, so no flipping back and forth. All in all, just a pleasure to read.

I own various collections of Emerson works. This is sure to be one of my favorites. I look forward to many happy years with The Annotated Emerson. Heck, I might even come to appreciate a poem or two... something no other collection has coaxed me to do. This book is truly a gift to the world. Thank you David and HUP!

Table of Contents:
Foreword: The Undisguised Emerson, by Phillip Lopate
Nature (1836)
The American Scholar (1837)
Letter to Martin Van Buren, President of the United States, Concord, Mass.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on March 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ralph Waldo Emerson's words and the explanatory job done by this annotated book's editor, Professor David Mikics are each quite good and often spectacular.

However, within my memory this is the first book I have purchased that is missing pages. Here I read avidly to page 450, then came to a full and puzzled stop. I was reading "Illusions" when I found the next page presented to me (459) was apparently from deep within the book's following chapter ("From Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli").

Eight pages lost?

I do highly recommend this book to other readers; just make sure you obtain a full and correct edition.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fred Heuchling on October 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful book is the point of buying real books. It reminds me of the Landmark series of Xenophon and Herodotus where every page offers a web of connections and context without which the reader only learns half the story. The illumination of the intersections of of Mrs. Fuller, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Whitman and Carlyle with Mr. Emerson would alone make the book worth it. All those Greek and Roman allusions you either forgot or never knew when reading Emerson are offered in the margins, saving you from hours of looking the stuff up on Wikipedia. Thank you Mr. Mikics.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Evan Geller on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found myself repeatedly signing this book out of the library as part of my research for my next novel. This book is so exceptionally beautiful in both its physicality and its writing that I had to buy it. It now sits next to me on my desk, proudly displayed and readily available for reference. The annotations are somewhat thin, both in quantity and detail, but the supplementary materials are erudite, helpful, and approachable.

This is a must-have tome for all Emerson aficionados. Highly recommended.
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