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The Portable Emerson (Viking Portable Library) New Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140150940
ISBN-10: 0140150943
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was an essayist, poet, philosopher, lecturer, and abolitionist whose ideas championed the importance of individualism and nature.

Jeffrey S. Cramer is the Curator of Collections at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. He is the editor of the award-winning Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition, The Quotable Thoreau, among other books. He lives in Maynard, Massachusetts. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; New edition (August 27, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140150943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140150940
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I love Emerson. For my money, he's one of the most insightful thinkers and beautiful stylists this country has produced. He deserves better than he's received from "professional" philosophers who tend to dismiss him as "just" a person of letters (as if that were a shameful thing to be!).
But this collection of Emersonia is seriously flawed. It prints the essays in Emerson's first collection, but only two from his second. It omits some of his best poems (including "The Sphinx," which Emerson himself so valued that he always had it printed at the very beginning of all the books of poems he published during his lifetime), as well as all of the later essays. In their place, the editors choose to print Emerson's "English Traits," a pleasant enough travel book but rather fluffy compared to the rest of his works. As the editors admit in their Introduction (itself a rather disappointing effort), they tend to feel uncomfortable with Emerson's work on mysticism, and so they decided to leave out of their anthology huge chunks of it. But since Emerson is first and foremost a mystical writer, this is to seriously misrepresent him.
In short, read Emerson--but find a better one-volume collection of his work than this one.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Emerson is one of the greats, there is no doubt about that. The reason that I only gave this book four stars is that this book includes some of the worst of Emerson. His essays on Self Reliance and on Faith in America are timeless classics; however his essay on for example, English traits, was very dry. I do recommend it, but keep in mind that unless you really, really dig Emmerson you may not like over half of this volume.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Middleton on February 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
After scanning through and thinking about the works of Marcus Aurilius, another philosopher came to mind, the 19th century lecturer, essayist and Trancendentalist, R.W. Emerson. There are certainly connections between these two great thinkers', however the space provided here is limited and therefore would be a disservice. This particular edition of The Portable Emerson is full of gems, including essays on "The American Scholar", "History" and my particular favourite, excerpts from his journals a letters.

Emerson was a prolific journal writer, where can be found the seeds to his insight into life and the plight of the human being.

Many years ago I read, Emerson: The Mind on Fire (Centennial Books) by Robert D. Richardson JR., a true masterpiece in the genre of biography and a labour of love. It is in this bioraphy one can capture Emerson's mind and great heart. (More than likely my favourite biography of all time.)

This volume, (A Portable Emerson) is filled with essays, poems and lectures that reveals a man who incessantly sought the truth, and attempted and succeeded through his many lectures across the eastern American coast.

Evidently he was a persuasive lecturer motivating thousands of Americans -which is a true gift.

One of my favourite quotes from this volume:

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."

A man who loved the world and contributed to its betterment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wanderer on November 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Note: Your "helpful" votes are appreciated. Thanks. A couple Mormon readers have given me negative marks because of my reviews of books in defense of the Book of Mormon. Oh, well, I write my reviews for fun and as a little hobby.

Most educated people are familiar with Emerson's epigrams of wisdom, but there is a whole world to explore in his essays and poems. "The Portable Emerson" gives the reader an excellent overview of Emerson's major works.

Emerson's comments in the "American Scholar" about his own time place our age in perspective:

"Our age is bewailed as the age of introversion. Must that needs be evil. We, it seems, are critical; we are embarrassed with second thoughts; we cannot enjoy any thing for hankering to know whereof the pleasure consists; we are lined with eyes; we see with our feet; the time is infected with Hamlet's unhappiness,--
'Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.'"

I hope you find something you like in my little review. Here is part of "The Problem," a poem:

I like a church; I like a cowl; (cowl: a monk's hooded cloak)
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains, or pensive smiles;
Yet not for all his faith can see
Would I that cowled churchman be.

A poem: "The Rhodora: On Being Asked, Whence Is The Flower?"

"Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being."

"Merlin," a poem:

"But mount to paradise
By the stairway of surprise."

And always remember the "Concord Hymn" (sung on July 4, 1837 at the dedication of the monument at Concord). Today near the bridge, there are some British flags to mark the graves of two of the King's soldiers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Barton VINE VOICE on April 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This version of the Portable Emerson, as edited by Carl Bode (there are a couple of editions), provides the reader with an excellent cross-section of Emerson's works. Containing nearly 700 pages, the book will introduce you to Emerson-the man and the philosophical thinker. One of the fathers of Transcendentalism, his views of society and nature are as valid toay as they were 175 years ago. His insights into some of the great men of history (Plato and Napoleon are included in this volume) as well as the English people have a wit and wisdom that is characteristic of his writings. The philosophies brought forth in essays such as "Nature", "Transcendentalist" and "Spiritual Laws" provide great insights into Emerson's world view. His poetry and letters, contained at the end of the volume, introduce the reader more fully to the politics and creative mind of this unique American mind. A good introduction to Emerson.
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