- Series: Centennial Books
- Paperback: 684 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; First edition (November 6, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520206894
- ISBN-13: 978-0520206892
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Emerson: The Mind on Fire (Centennial Books) First Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The maverick intellectual life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) is the focus of this imposing, highly erudite biography. In 1832, Emerson resigned his Boston ministry to pursue a career as an essayist, orator and poet, delivering more than 1500 lectures in his lifetime, including "The American Scholar" (1837), and publishing essays such as Nature (1836) and Representative Men (1850). As America's foremost prophet of individual experience, he was also a founder of the Transcendentalist Club, editor of the transcendentalist magazine, The Dial, and spokesman for many reformist causes. Drawing on unpublished personal journals, correspondence and lectures, Richardson (Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind) charts, in exacting detail, the minutia of Emerson's daily life in Concord, Mass., and extensive travels; the literature and philosophy he read over several decades and how his reading shaped his steadily evolving intellect. Although the nuances of Emerson's personality are eclipsed by textual analysis, Richardson balances the often chilling puritanism of Emerson's writing with a portrait of the man as hungry for friendship, maintaining close relationships with Carlisle, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller; and whose icy doctrine of individualism reflects the loneliness caused by the premature deaths of his beloved first wife, his two younger brothers and numerous friends.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Using freshly available materials on Emerson, Richardson (Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, LJ 8/86) here fashions a lively intellectual biography of the "sage of Concord." In exacting detail, the author traces the development of Emerson's great imagination from his early student days at Harvard to his later associations with Coleridge and Carlyle. Through a study of Emerson's wide-ranging reading, Richardson reveals the origins of key Emersonian doctrines such as self-reliance, the transcendence of the soul, and the mind as an ever-erupting volcano. The great value of the biography lies in its exploration of the influences of Coleridge, Goethe, Madame de Stael, and Hindu thought on Emerson. While the intimate detail in which Emerson's life is examined is reminiscent of the pedantry of much late 19th-century American biography, Richardson offers a captivating account of the originality, creativity, and genius of the American Coleridge. This biography goes beyond John Mc-Aleer's Emerson: Days of Encounter (LJ 8/84). Recommended for large public libraries and academic collections.
Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The avid reader that Emerson was, is shared here it great detail. I have no idea how many books are mentioned, but it's likely in the hundreds. There are summaries of the books' contents, and how they might have appealed to Emerson. I find it a great launch point for future books to explore. And these would be considered very obscure by today's standards. So this great book - beyond exploring the life of RW Emerson - is also the perfect launchpoint for discovering other books and authors. And these are just ordinary ones, they are the great thinkers of yesteryear. If only people would learn more about these wonderfully deep individuals.
There are times you feel that you're intruding upon Waldo and Henry on one of their walks. It was an endless stroll of two intellectuals and humanists on the path of being very human. Each of the one hundred chapters (both books) are kept short, which helps move the reader from topic to topic without ever feeling put upon (too much detail can drag what is otherwise very interesting.) Though, for me personally, I would love to savor every moment these two great men shared. I don't think I could ever get bored.
Emerson has many close friends with whom one gets to know intimately. His personal address book was a whose whose of literary and intellectual greats.
The relationship between Emerson and his second wife, Lidian, is of great interest. She was also intellectual and as much a partner in life as she was a wife. Her presence is everywhere in Emerson's life.
Emerson's essays are pure poetry. And the behind the scene snippets into how they became a part of his legacy was both insightful and relevant to the day to day interactions and causes he committed himself. His transformation from the unremarkable child into the neverending 'student' of self-education and commitment to social conscience throughout his entire adult life is one to be admired.
Mr. Richardson is one of the best biographers of nineteenth century literaries. He is truly one with his topic.
The book is also superbly written. Each short chapter offers enough substantive insight to urge the reader into the next. It is a long book, but not long-winded. Richardson provides the reader with some morsel of insight in a few pages of narrative, and then offers a rest to digest what has been said. His placement of quotations from Emerson's journals, essays and other works is brilliant, offering the reader a useful sketch of Emerson's metaphysics and ethics. In my own case, this has allowed time to reach for other literature more fully descriptive of the events or scenes offered in a particular chapter, or to reread chunks of Emerson's writings while moving through the biography. The book is a useful tool not merely for a study of Emerson's life but for a study of Transcendentalism and of the interplay of ideas across the Atlantic that shaped American thought in so many ways. One sees more clearly where and how such writers as Nietzsche and Thoreau obtained the seeds of their own truths from Emerson's works and thoughts.
Richardson has set the standard for the writing of future biographies. Again, simply superb.