Self-Reliance
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Self-Reliance

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  2,709 ratings  ·  163 reviews
A Classic Essay by Emerson. Excerpted from Essays, First Series.
Paperback, 52 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Arc Manor (first published June 7th 1967)
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Riku Sayuj

Shreyaan swadharmo vigunah paradharmaat swanushthitaat; 
Swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayaavahah.

The Bhagavad-Gita, 3.35 (Chapter 3, Verse 35)

[Better is one's own Dharma, though devoid of merit, than the Dharma of another well discharged. Better is even death in one's own Dharma; to attempt the Dharma of another is fraught with danger.]

I felt that Self-Reliance is a book length homage to this verse. Emerson, while talking loftily of originality seems to have not the slightest compunctio...more
Stephen
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6.0 stars. This book seriously affected me in a very postive way. It's not really even a book but rather a long essay. Essay or book, it had a profound impact on me. In fact, I was utterly floored while reading this and it has become one of my "All Time Favorites."

Other then gushing and throwing great heaps of praise on the work, I am not sure how best to describe the contents so as to do it justice. If I had to try and sum up Emerson's Self Reliance I would say that it is first and foremost t...more
Loy Machedo
Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a collection of thoughts published by the author in the year 1841. It is indeed a very rare manuscript as it urges its readers to do the unthinkable – trust your gut feeling, your intuition, your common sense, your heart, your spirit and soul – rather than follow the will of the majority or the popular opinion of the masses.

Personally, I consider this, his masterpiece

But herein lies the twist.

I will request you not to read the book.

Simply because this book...more
Hans
Emerson has a way with words that I find seldom matched by others. His prose is rich with imagery that it feels as though I am constructing a physical edifice out of his ideas as I read. My own bias is apparent in the fact that part of the reason I like Emerson so much is that my own meditations on life are similar to his. This particular book, for which is he is most well known for, emphasizes that nothing of true value can come from without and only from within. I can see though how his philos...more
Philip
For Emerson, the greatest good is to elevate and worship ones’ self, and the greatest sin is to look outside ones’ self. While who we are is a product of what has come before and will contribute to what will go on, Emerson sees a danger of looking to the past or considering the future in our actions. He preaches that we should have a focus entirely on the present. Being true to ourselves in the moment may cause inconsistencies and misunderstandings, but this is all part of his greater good. Emer...more
Derrick
"If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in suc...more
Aaron Goldfarb
The first time I read "Self-Reliance," I didn't. It was assigned summer reading before my senior year AP English class and I was too busy golfing and playing pick-up basketball to waste my summer on a book written by a dead guy with weird sideburns. At age 23, I read it the second time, printing out a public domain edition using a temp job's laser printer then plowing through it on my lunch break. This week was my third time to read it and by far the most valuable thanks to the Domino Project's...more
Johnrh
Comments and passages.

Although this 1841 essay is somewhat imbued with “Divine Providence”, Emerson makes a cogent as well as eloquent argument for being your own person. As per John Ruskin, you must read this 19th century English work “letter by letter”, but it is worth it. A few sample passages:

“Ne te quaesiveris extra.”

(“Do not seek outside yourself.”)


“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men- that is genius. Speak your late...more
Sonny Wyatt
"Our age is retrospective, it builds the tombs of the fathers... why can't we have a religion of revelation to us instead of the history of theirs." with this opener I was hooked. Emerson's idea was to convey the necessity of a deep belief and high regard of self and the intellect of your own mind. Regard more highly that new thing which you can bring into the world over the inventions, and innovations of existing things, or thoughts brought forth by others. Follow your inner constitution rather...more
Jowayriah Bookish
Emerson and Thoreau are easier compared than contrasted since they both were proponents of the same trend; transcendentalism_ the idea that man, by meditating the self and examining nature can transcend his humanity and fuse into the soul of God to end up being one with Him.

Their themes are pretty similar : know yourself, trust yourself, examine nature to figure out what/who you are, do not rely on the government and man is inherently good. They both_as transcendentalists- were non-conformists...more
Kevlin
I THUS PROUDLY DENOUNCE LOGIC - What Mr. Emerson is really trying to say.

I would like to start this review with a quote. Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote thusly: “Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think’, ‘I am’, but quotes some saint or sage”.

I think - I say again, I think - Mr. Emerson is a good writer; his way with words is undeniably extraordinary. As a philosopher, however, he demonstrates nothing but utter failure in this essay. “Self-Reliance” is...more
Gail Fagerstrom
I am re-reading Self-Reliance... Emerson knew and said then what the world pays to have someone famous tell them now.

"Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none."

"Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing."

"I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

H...more
Sokcheng Seang
Admittedly, this was the first time I read Emerson's work. I was in awed with his use of language. As a non-born English speaker, I have quite a lot of difficulties trying to understand his points most of the times. However, I have come to the conclusion that this whole essay wants to prove only a handful of statements- namely, "be true to yourself", "trust your guts", "contradict yourself", "do not conform".

While these advices are helpful in trying to establish your own thoughts, it borders too...more
Yuen
Jun 02, 2014 Yuen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
This book really gives you a tight good slap on your face because of the thought osmosis. You can probably guess what this book is all about, that is, to be self-reliant of course with the additional supporting details. I can tell you no one can write/explain about self-reliance any better than Emerson though I haven't read much about it. It's normally what we hear from the elder people. Be yourself! Stand your ground and don't be afraid of it etc. etc.

Just to give you a clear idea of what I'm t...more
Warhammer Grantham
For Emerson, the ultimate goal is to be completely true to oneself and ones own nature. This is the path to a peace and a power unavailable to those who base the crafting of their person on imitation of someone else. He goes beyond saying "don't care what anyone else thinks," he stresses what is ultimately important is to listen to your perception, pursue the things you imagine when you are not deliberately thinking about any one thing. Trying to be someone else is always a shadow of the origina...more
Minh Quan Nguyen

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has
...more
David Ranney
Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts.
An efficiently-stated and often beautiful elucidation on the importance of the individual and skepticism towards some cultured "truths." Emerson states this more...more
Joy Gerbode
Mar 08, 2012 Joy Gerbode rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Joy by: wingsofjoy@mchsi.com
Difficult to read and even more difficult to keep reading, I didn't like this as much as some of Emerson's other work. I think he had some wonderful ideas, and the basic idea that we must believe in ourself before we can do anything in society is inspirational. However, while there is, of course, some of the imagery he is famous for, it is not as lovely as some of the other things I've enjoyed reading of his. This was pretty hard to keep reading.
Tyler Hurst
Very tough read the first time. Antiquated phrasing and pulled quotes on the left page were distracting initially, but my second read through was enlightening.

Fascinating to read Emerson telling each of us that the answers lies within us, wherever we are. We just have to look deep enough.

And by opening ourselves up to experience without trying to escape through them we are free to imagine anything.
Dan
This was my first foray into reading Emerson. I have a big book of his essays and will definitely read more. This essay was great. It's really just a fabulous reminder to have confidence in one's own intellect and to not be timid about where it leads you. Highly recommended and it won't take you long to read.
Hisham
A brilliant essay. A must read for every non-conformist who is roaring to unleash his creativity, love, and genius as a gift to the world. Emerson is highly quotable and incredibly positive. Put me close to tears quite a few times - in a good way. One of the best pieces I have ever read.
Erika B. (Snogging on Sunday Books)
Totally digging Emerson! He was one smart fellow! He said things like-

"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."

"What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinio...more
Jenny
Somehow the writings of Thoreau and Emerson resonate for me in a way that nothing else does. It's like they are discussing ideas I've felt inside secretly my whole life.
Irene
This was actually something my teacher forced her students to read, but she's a really philisophical and deep teacher so I was't too reluctant to read it. I'm glad I read it when I did because as an adolescent and growing child, it's really important to know that what one believes plays a big part in his/her life. This essay stresses individuality and as children come of age, they forget to stay true to themselves. Emerson explains how everyone can find a truth within himself/herself very well....more
Laurele
Emerson does not impress me, though I think he would very much like to.
Pinder
"The Secret" for men in the 1800s. Be true to yourself! No shit.
Andd Becker
Still a good read after all these years.
Sarah
An attack on all the sheep of the world! Emerson stresses figuring out the world for yourself, doing what you feel is the right thing to do right now (even if you haven't always felt that way), honesty, living in the present, and never caving to things simply because other people do.

Full of great points, GREAT quotes and funny lines. The irreverent Emerson gets a little extreme for me sometimes ("If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own."...more
Mohammad Ali Abedi
“I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my genius calls me.”

Emerson’s essay, while not perfect, is full of excellent lines, that I kept highlighting. Emerson writes about foregoing our reliance on the past and great men, and instead pave our own path. Which I guess, in a way, is ironic, for me to agree with an essay written almost 200 years ago, telling me not to listen to material written in the past!

“To be great is to be misunderstood.”

But Emerson’s philosophy has meaning for me,...more
Amal Shoeib
I am at a loss of words! I wish all philosophers will have Emerson's soul and his serenity and calmness when writing or contemplating ..I won't add much in my review I leave it for his words instead.
"In what prayers do men allow themselves! That which they call a holy office is not so much as brave and manly. Prayer looks abroad and asks for some foreign addition to come through some foreign virtue, and loses itself in endless mazes of natural and supernatural, and mediatorial and miraculous. Pr...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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Self-Reliance and Other Essays Essays and Poems The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson Essays and Lectures Nature and Selected Essays

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“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” 2517 likes
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” 430 likes
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