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Ralph Waldo Emerson
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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  2,407 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Nature is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Recent advances in zoology, botany, and geology confirmed Emerson's intuitions about the intricate relationships of Nature at large. A visit to th ...more
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Published March 10th 2011 by McCarthy Press (first published 1836)
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Debbie Zapata
Emerson's essay Nature pretty much defeated me. I read Self-Reliance years ago and was incredibly impressed and inspired, but although I think Nature was included in the little volume I still have up in Arizona, I don't remember reading it at the time. So when I had the opportunity to include this in a challenge, I was looking forward to reading what Emerson had to say.

But although at times I thought I was just about to grasp his ideas so that I could say "Eureka, I see what you are saying!" it
This is an important work for Emerson, it defined him and how he viewed his fellow man and the world around him, especially the natural world. But it was difficult to read for me because of the style and of the time and place it was written. This intellectual and philosophical language from the early 19th century was just outside my ability to fully appreciate it's message.

Memorable quote: "Infancy is the perpetual Messiah, which comes into the arms of fallen men, and pleads with them to return
carl  theaker
Mar 23, 2011 carl theaker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoorz

This essay by Emerson takes up about 56 of this little book's pages, and I feel like I could write about 100 pages on it.

Written in 1836, it's interesting that Emerson starts off with how the current generation never got to face nature at its most pure, that was a task their forefathers got to experience. You know, they had it easy in 1836!

Sometimes he has a thought merging Nature, Man and Spirit that is simple, in sentence structure anyway, and I have to read it several times to
Oct 10, 2016 Liam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This actually had some really nice quotes and thoughts but it just didn't really grab my interest.
“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” ~Thoreau

NATURE: After listening to Professor Arnold Weinstein’s 3 lectures on Emerson from Classics of American Literature (The Great Courses) I listened to this essay on LibriVox, a free resource which has many audio recordings of books in the public domain. I was very grateful for Weinstein’s preliminary explanation although I still found myself ‘at sea’ so-to-speak when it came to many of the classical and contemporary references and metaphors.
Rick Wilcox
Dec 30, 2013 Rick Wilcox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To Emerson, there is little distinction between the natural and the supernatural. Rather than parsing the universe into a bifurcated and dualistic compartmentalization of science and theology, he wraps one in the binding of the other. Echoing Augustine in The City of God he writes "The difference between the actual and the ideal force of man is happily figured by the schoolmen, in saying, that the knowledge of man is an evening knowledge, vespertina cognitio, but that of God is a morning knowled ...more
May 14, 2016 Adnan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the best thing I have read in my life. I will review it later this week.
Angela Blount
Nov 22, 2016 Angela Blount rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."

Emerson's cadence and poetic influences add a pleasing finish to the tone of this essay. Despite the name of the piece, the author seems every bit as preoccupied with the supernatural as he is the natural. (I'd maintain that, from certain perspectives, the interchangeability and additional layer of wonderment does make sense.) Emerson isn't shy about his spiritual perspective. And that perspective clearly influences his abi
Rupertt Wind
Mar 03, 2014 Rupertt Wind rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its poetry, pure unadulterated poetry of nature.
May 02, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite quotes: "These enchantments are medicinal, they sober and heal us."
"Cities give not the human senses room enough."
"Nature is loved by what is best in us."
Ana Rînceanu
I like Emerson's writing, but this feels to my modern eyes repetitive. These theme of praising nature and encouraging understanding the world through nature are so deeply engrained in our culture that the essay comes off as simplistic compared to the scientific essays I love to read. I like the section on idealism most, but the rest were just okay. That this idea of nature is so widespread must to be Emerson's credit since he brought Transcendentalism into the mainstream, but I have not studied ...more
Rachel Nicole Wagner
I absolutely love the correlatino and connection that Emmerson makes to nature throughout this beautiful piece of literature.
Love this.

Feb 15, 2015 Tomek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an uneven book. The beginning and the end are easy to read and thought provoking, while the middle is dense and obtuse. These essays are Emerson's attempts to understand why nature is valuable and what our relationship to nature should be. This is a lofty and noble goal, but I think he ultimately fell short.

He starts off by stating his premise: that being in nature gives humans unparallelled peace and happiness. He then grapples with to the reasons behind this truth in subsequent chapt
Antti Sorri
Dec 23, 2014 Antti Sorri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kaksi vuotta sitten Akateemisen kirjakaupan alennuslaarista mukaan lähti yhdysvaltalaisen filosofin, Henry David Thoreaun (1817 – 1862) vastikään suomennettu Walden – Elämää metsässä. Tätä ympäristöfilosofian klassikkoa luin ahmien ja vakuutuin sen asemasta amerikkalaisen romantiikan ajan luontokäsityksen suurena esikuvana, myöhemmän ympäristöfilosofian ja viimeaikaisen downshiftaus -ilmiön innoittajana. Ja innoitti teos myös allekirjoittanutta, joka rupesi pitkästä aikaa haaveilemaan omasta mök ...more
May 22, 2017 Frances rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a tiny set of 3 essays, this took me a surprisingly long time to finish reading. It was sort of like reading/watching Shakespeare- you have to snap into reading it, which means you have to be in the flow of reading. I found myself re-reading sections, because I'd reach the end of the page and realize I hadn't absorbed anything.

That being said, when I WAS snapped in I loved it. I don't necessarily agree with everything he believed, but much of that could be because he wrote this in the 1840s
Nicholas Armstrong
Emerson opens this treatise on life with powerful, captivating words, "Our age is retrospective." From here he launches into assaults on all of the assembled histories and beliefs of man and asking 'why not WE' should have advantages that our ancestors had; such as discovering philosophy, religion or the secrets of the universe - and then he goes exactly against such sentiments.

The introduction to Nature is marvelous. The opening paragraph is an argumentative essays dream and the supporting para
Rhys O'Shea
Loved it when I first started reading it over 12 months ago and just haven't picked it up since, until today, and I realised why. Some great ideas and arguments conveyed in this book but many are quite fundamental and reading this, is to just revisit them. Really in modern society this and other similar texts are merely used by those wishing to be an intellectual and while this can stand as the foundation for that it is generally just quoted by those trying to sound intelligent. I now realise th ...more
Lindu Pindu
If I hadn't been reading this on a train, I think I would have flung it across some room.

The subject is exhilarating to me, as a city dweller obsessed with leaving the fumes behind and going to live in the countryside, but there is the issue of the writing itself: Emerson's wit is most apparent in short sentences, as in the famous "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds", yet he mostly prefers to write long sentences that I had to read and re-read as they weren't really making a point, an
I re-read Nature recently (re-reading classics that I read when I was young, but never felt I understood properly).

I love Emerson's prose, I could happily read him for hours on end; perhaps unintentional, but he comes across like an old hermit preaching in the park to no one in particular.

The philosophical view espoused in this essay seemed to suffer from his religious world-view, i.e., nature as separate from man as separate from God; that said, he is eloquent and loving of nature, as if to apo
Emerson's 'essay' in eight Chapters is interesting from a historical perspective, as it proposes an appreciation of nature that involves transcendental and metaphysical aspects. Some passages are lyrical and highly quotable. Such as:"Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of things?". Or: "Empirical science is apt to cloud the sight, and, by the very knowledge of functions and processes, to bereave the student of the manly contemplation of the whole. The sav ...more
Emerson's transcendentalist essay (and two others in this edition, History and Self-Reliance) present a few appreciable points about humanity's relation to and position within nature, but my twenty-first century brain kept returning to a Dr. Bronner's soap bottle as a reference: that is to say, it was a bit too rambling and woo-y for me. I read all the appropriate Wikipedia articles and get that transcendentalism was pretty groovy in its day as far as religious philosophy goes, but I can't help ...more
Howard Tobochnik
This book had some nice ideas and quotes, but overall is very difficult to follow and understand. Here are some notable quotes:

Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort all her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. (page 10)

...The primary forms, as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping.
Mar 20, 2017 Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad book. Emerson was very eloquent when he wrote this, as in all his works. However, the only sticking point for me was that he saw Nature and its beauty absolutely subservient to humankind rather than a coexisting entity. Other than that, I found his prose gorgeous and uplifting. We ought to all have that childlike innocence again to appreciate Mother Nature and all that She provides for us.
To Emerson, Nature sets human potential: “The visible creation is the terminus or the circumference of the invisible world”. Nature is a finality that people merely distil in symbol.

To the extent that his work (and romanticism in general) is the line marking the end of antiquity, Emerson is one of the last true polymaths.

His thinking coincides with an age of optimism, at least in the New World, founded on the ‘unstoppable’ territorial expansion of the American empire. Thus he challenges the co
Apr 12, 2012 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emerson immediately demands of the reader: "The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?"

Emerson then guides the reader through an exploratory look into various aspects of man's relation to Nature, from which I cite a few pearls:

Commodity - "T
Mar 06, 2017 Genndy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book consists of Emerson's long essay Nature, of his and Whitman's letter, and of selection from Emerson's diary. Essay Nature didn't particularly well stood agains't the passing of time. It is a mistical essay about unity of microcosmos and macrocosmos, and, as most of texts that urge you to be "one with everything", it is full of contradictions and double standards while implying that thesis. Diary selection is much more interesting and full of witty and truthful toughts, and Whitman's fa ...more
Andrea F J De Pace
Beauty in nature is the herald of eternal beauty. Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world.
Nature is symbol of spirit. It is the organ through which the universal spirit speaks to individual, and strives to lead back the individual to it.
Nothing in nature is exhausted in its first use. As in God, every end is converted into a new means.
Roses make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are.

And speaks all languages the ros
Sep 20, 2015 Bozhidar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book full of clarity on what nature is. You may think that grasping nature is straightforward thing, this is a book about discovering nature through it's direct experience. The author has excellent essay writing skills and the language is perfect, not too complicated and never simplifying, but every time just the right words to communicate with clarity something that is hardly put in words, to experience nature. The first part of this book I've read just after I enjoyed a beautiful sun ...more
Dec 10, 2013 Romain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nature was the founding essay of the transcendentalist movement, and it's quite a remarkable read. In it, author Ralph Waldo Emerson argues that an appreciation of nature will reveal existing truths about our lives while helping to shape a philosophy of balance as we move forwards. The natural world, he says, is a living, breathing library of knowledge, which we use to supply our basic needs in four encompassing terms: Commodity, Beauty, Language and Discipline. Each of these has a direct connec ...more
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in 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted ...more
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“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship” 101 likes
“Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler's trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar's garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world.” 39 likes
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