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Selected Writings

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  476 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
From one of the greatest figures of 19th-century America...
This new edition offers a broad view of the author's finest work, featuring his critical essays, poems, and letters, plus a considerable amount of material from the Journals, including an entry discovered in 1964 in the Library of Congress.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 7th 2003 by Signet Classics (first published January 1st 1950)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Roy Lotz
People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.

I expect most people read Emerson in college, which I suppose is the perfect time to do so. The man seems constantly to be speaking to the young, wide-eyed, enthusiastic, hopeful liberal arts major in me. There’s just something wonderfully youthful about Emerson’s attitude; he never grew out of that adolescent feeling of omnipotence, that we can all recreate the world if we are just authentically ourselves. This sounds cr
Aug 12, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it
This was pretty good, but it was a little bit like being in a hallmark store. About every third paragraph an aphorism jumps out and tries to make me buy an inspirational coffee cup. Hallmark should include the subversive context on their calendars...
Don Stanton
Feb 26, 2010 Don Stanton rated it really liked it
Pretty much a mood read for me. Philosophical renderings on self reliance and dependence at the lowest level, the individual. A good choice for reading for long stretches of uninterrupted time.
Oct 02, 2011 Nick rated it liked it
The book's in two parts: Journals and Letters, and Essays and Addresses. I've only read the first part so far, but intend to return the second "someday".

Anyway, I enjoyed the first part. Many of the entries are fairly short, and I couldn't help but think about twitter/blogs.

p. 41: Satisfaction with our lot is not consistent with the intentions of God & with our nature. It is our duty to aim at change, at improvement, at perfection. It is our duty to be discontented, with the measure we have
July 21, 1837
Courage consists in the conviction that they with whom you co tend are no more than you. If we believed in the existence of strict individuals (itl), natures, that is, not radically identical but unknown, immeasurable, we should never dare fight.

The American Scholar
69 - One must be an inventor to read well.
72 Character is higher than intellect.
78 Give me insight into today . . . the near explains the far.
79 The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic co
Jan 09, 2008 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I was glad to start this anthology of Emerson's writings with the journal entries, the least challenging entry point. It eased me into his 19th century style of writing and thought and well-prepared me for the essays and lectures that followed, which are the real joy and benefit of Emerson's work. Emerson's view of a larger, fluid universal soul that contains all is a comforting one for this secular humanist. It contains the benefits of most religious beliefs without the problematic parts (insti ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Arthur rated it it was amazing
From very early on, I have had an affinity for Emerson and his at-times complex, yet remarkably simple and poignant ideas and explanations. Without question, Self-Reliance, played an integral part in my life.

This books contains some of his most powerful.

Said he, "whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an e
Dec 04, 2009 Kit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
4 months and 930pp later, I put this to bed. What's worth returning to? Essays Vols 1 & 2 (esp. Self Reliance, Experience, Friendship, Circles, Nature), the eulogy for Thoreau and that for John Brown, the American Scholar, The Div School Address, The Transcendentalist, The Lord's Supper, a handful of poems. His study of English traits is the most fun read in the collection.

The representative Representative Men and Conduct of Life essays are kinda boring. Most of the poems are not that great
Mar 22, 2009 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in Boston served as fertile ground for connecting with great 19th century writers who lived and created in the area. I am fond of the transcendentalist movement, his great poetry, and superbly written essays. His essay on friendship should be taught to all who truly want to have friends in their lifetime. "To make ones life breathe easier is to have succeeded". A great contribution to literature and philosophy.
Feb 07, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it
Emerson is hard to read. I only read Nature and Self-Reliance, but both were excellent essays, and both contributed much to my view of the world. Nature is probably one of the hardest essays in the book, but it is well worth the thinking required to get through it. You will have to do some rereading, but that's just a sign of good literature. I also had a professor try to quiz me on Nature once. That's just mean, please don't do that to anyone. I love Emerson, and I hope you do, too.
Tommy Lee
Oct 28, 2012 Tommy Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Emerson made his writing so descriptive and personal that I was able to garner a vicarious experience of early to mid 19th century American culture. It was interesting to watch Emerson allow age and life experience to change him from an idealistic religious romantic to a full-blown cynic still hanging on to minuscule religious rooting convictions.
May 13, 2013 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of his philosophy is really beautiful (if sometimes outdatedly a bit racist/sexist), but I enjoyed the excerpts from his journals at the beginning more than any of the crafted pieces. I think he must have been a wonderful speaker.
Jan 23, 2016 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-undated
This was used in my 400-level American Transcendentalist class in college; nice selection and very good supporting material in the book.
Jack Hansen
Jan 12, 2013 Jack Hansen rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this compilation of Emerson's notes and diary entries as he evolved into the amazing man he was, revered as one of the world's greatest thinkers in his lifetime.
Matthew Jay
Mar 21, 2016 Matthew Jay rated it liked it
I really love some messages in this book but it just doesn't flow well. Something I will have to come back to in the future.
Feb 24, 2014 Ananya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read just one essay called Self Reliance but I'd be willing to read the rest of them. some texts just move you in a very positive way.:)
Feb 27, 2009 Kate marked it as to-read
Shelves: shelved
so as I stumble clumsily through Whitman's Leaves of Grass, I decided to back up a bit, to one of Whitman's first encouragers=Emerson.
Dec 23, 2008 TrenTren rated it it was amazing
I did my thesis on Emerson and adore his work.
May 25, 2010 Julie rated it liked it
Honestly, I didn't like reading Emerson. I feel pressure to give this a 3 rating because of his acclaim (by others).
Feb 05, 2011 Kalia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really hard to read, but it was very enjoyable. The meaning of the essays are very deep and memorable. Emerson must have been a genius in his time.
Oct 26, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing
This is my Bible--hands down.
Aug 31, 2009 Merritt rated it really liked it
Very nice. Not something you'd be hooked to and will think of over and over... but overall Emerson's language and ideas are so beautiful, and some of the writing in there is just brilliant.
Sophia rated it really liked it
Feb 06, 2012
David Surman
David Surman rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2014
Molly rated it really liked it
Jan 26, 2012
Austin Bachman
Austin Bachman rated it liked it
Oct 14, 2015
Lawrence rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2007
Nicole rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2008
Ashley rated it it was amazing
Nov 26, 2016
Leo Cassidy
Leo Cassidy rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2014
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover plus... 5 18 May 03, 2017 02:09PM  
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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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“One man thinks justice consists in paying debts, and has no measure in his abhorrence of another who is very remiss in this duty and makes the creditor wait tediously. But that second man has his own way of looking at things; asks himself Which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the poor? the debt of money or the debt of thought to mankind, of genius to nature? For you, O broker, there is not other principle but arithmetic. For me, commerce is of trivial import; love, faith, truth of character, the aspiration of man, these are sacred;” 3 likes
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