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Essays and Lectures

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  2,059 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The library of America is dedicated to publishing America's best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. Hailed as the "finest-looking, longest-lasting editions ever made" (The New Republic), Library of America volumes make a fine gift for any occasion. Now, with exactly one hundred volumes to choose from, there is a perfe ...more
Hardcover, 1150 pages
Published November 15th 1983 by Library of America
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The first essay contained herein is the eight part essay, “Nature.” Emerson writes aphoristically and compellingly, each paragraph contained a line I feel drawn to underline. His writing is not always easy to understand without close reading, since he often uses common terms in idiosyncratic ways, but once one decodes his terminology, the way become easier; nonetheless, sometimes it seems more profitable to read him for general impressions than in meticulous detail. And if “Nature” at times seem ...more
By all rights I should give this a 5. Emerson is the quintessential American and quite frankly probably the quintessential human being, by my lights. At his peak, which he hits here often (see especially: The Poet, The American Scholar, The Divinity School Address, and the final chapter of The Conduct of Life), his every sentence falls like a fiery brand imprinting itself forever on my mind. Stylistically, he is an absolutely incredible writer, and his content burns. Emerson speaks to you and on ...more
S. Chandler
I'm adding this on 12-17-09:
I have been checking this in and out of the library since August, I think will just post as I go. It is just too dense to somehow, summarize with a simple “Thumbs up!” More recently I have been focusing on how Emerson represented and interpreted a certain climate that existed in New England during this time. Mormonism developed in the same climate and this is of interest to me. There are some important parallels in how Emerson views man and the doctrine of the Mormon
Oct 10, 2009 globulon marked it as try-again-later
The thing I like the best about Emerson is that he provides a pattern of life that I can live with. He balances the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical lives in a way that seems quite useful to me.

I probably won't give this five stars just because he can be long-winded and boring at times, but there is still plenty of excitement too.

I definitely am finding the second series of essays inferior to the first. I had high hopes for "Experience" for instance but found it unclear and bloat
Eric Crawford
It would make me extremely happy to know that one young adult out there is sitting down with this book right now and enjoying it. Not just enjoying it but making use out of it. I would say this is the perfect book for the younger generation; to warn against the obsession of image, reputation, the importance of skepticism, individuality, the true definitions of beauty, art, and nature. But it is the perfect book for the youth, the adult, and the elder, to teach, to guide, and to confirm. Emerson ...more
A wealth of information. I feel my relative had incredible spiritual teachings that the world didn't accept until this age. It proves to me that although his thoughts weren't as acceptable then, they give us great awareness of the spirituality of life and the struggles of the human, while living on earth. He is very deep and each time I read this book, I learn more. Again this is proof as to how we learn as humans. We each have the understanding according to our level of consciousness and so whe ...more
This compendious, rather unwieldy (yet still portable!) collection of R.W. Emerson's essays, poems, lectures, and other assorted literary marginalia is great--you can really see his development as the grand poobah of self-reliance and metaphysical Idealism. While the overly abstract and sometimes contradictory language can be a real bear to get through, it's worth it--it's a privilege to see such a great mind at work and I found myself coming across aphorisms that I didn't know were originally b ...more
Am I putting this up here just to make myself look smart? Ummm...let's skip that one, and just say that I'd never read him before, might have missed him if it hadn't been assigned for class and I really loved this book. Scary how perfectly someone could nail the America of today when writing over a hundred years ago. Also gotta love someone who tells students at the Harvard Divinity school that it's okay not to get into Jesus if you're not feeling him (not an exact quote). John Lennon would appr ...more
I'll freely admit I skipped a lot of the early stuff, which is frankly boring to me -- way too dense and too much of a challenge to follow his thinking. But the two series of Essays are pretty terrific. I had varying degrees of difficulty with each, but they're all worth the effort even if I can't always follow his train of thought. I enjoy Thoreau more; there's more air and light in his prose -- but Emerson was no doubt a very impressive thinker.
march, 2003, ash's pick, THEME: Art, the pursuit of immortality
through the creative expression of beauty. Similarly the limitation and boundlessness of art. "The Art". Paired with Oscar Wilde's "The Artist" and "The Decay of Lying" and Two Articles by Art Critics: "Art of 9/11" by Arthur Danto & "This is not John Perreault" by John Perreault

Wonderful! Inspirational! A classic! Rereading some favorite passages of my much loved worn out copy on Ralph Waldo Emerson's Birthday!! "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!!" "A friend is one before whom I can think aloud." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Christopher Gontar
I have reread this book about 100 times, and have never ceased to be moved, inspired and also challenged by it. The author may be the greatest writer in the English language, after Shakespeare.
Jun 24, 2013 Hind rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: paused
Love the paper quality. Also, Emerson may go way over my head sometimes, but most times he's beyond profound. Too dense to read from cover to cover though. I just read through the first essay series.
Megan Rich
Emerson was one of the most influential writers of my adolescence. I read his entire collected works, even the journals, and felt a deep communion with him always.
"I like Man not Men." The American experience takes philosohpical form here. "I detest Congress, but like my Congressperson." On it goes. A very good mind, good writing, timeless ideas.
Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau are three persons I like very much, because they all described nature so much and give me an impression of what a man or citizen should be existing.
Sean McGuckian
Jun 25, 2007 Sean McGuckian marked it as to-read
"A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams." Enough said.
He stopped writing about nature ("Nature") and got a lot heavier ("Self-Reliance") after his young son died. Interesting to see such a massive shift.
Skip Scott
Emerson's wit, humor, and insight are brought into this collection of essays. Definitely worth the time for anyone who appreciates great writing.
I find Ralph Waldo Emerson to be a natural philosopher. I have written an essay on “Nature” and may write another on “The Poet” soon.
Mar 13, 2008 Ann added it
Recommended to Ann by: Bert Eustice
Amazingly prescient about who the great writers of his era were. Recognized superior talent from a single poem.
One of the premier Aerican gnostics muses on relationships, nature, politics, man, woman, death, and America.
Oct 22, 2008 Shawn marked it as to-read
I read several of these essays in high school. I aspire to revisit (and actually understand) them!
Mystic Philosopher
this book i love it concise and to the point another book for the serious minded
"Self-Reliance" must be read by everyone wishing/thinking themselves American.
Sandi Kay
One of three books for my summer class. Shuueww, summer is going to be busy!
Bob Gilbert
Not as romantic as other books, closer insight into Emersons life.
Emerson rings true for all ages!
I wrote a previous review of this
Tittilates my intellect.
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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
More about Ralph Waldo Emerson...
Self-Reliance and Other Essays Essays and Poems Self-Reliance The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson Nature and Selected Essays

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“There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.” 22 likes
“I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.” 0 likes
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