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Nature and Other Essays

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  1,440 ratings  ·  57 reviews
He was an ordained minister, renowned orator, and beloved author and poet whose ideas on nature, philosophy, and religion influencedauthors such as Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. Through his writings,Emerson ardently professed the importance of being an individual, resisting the comfort of conformity, and creating an art of living in harmony with nature. This soul-s ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 15th 2009 by Dover Publications (first published 1836)
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Sep 30, 2008 Lucas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
The world is pliably linguistic. Have faith in the way you see it! Allow yourself to do what you do and feel what you feel. Be a healthy individualist. Respect your fellow woman and your shared source.

Hippies talk all the time about universal spirits and mother nature and blah blah blah... none of them give plausible or interesting explanations of what they mean. Emerson points out very simply that Nature--everything that exists outside of me--makes up the common store of our language. Nature is
I can't help but start this review with a truism: It's near impossible to read American books or process American popular culture or politics without somehow grappling with the legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. We know better than ever that no claim to understand any era can be made without reference to a diversity of voices; however, while it's true that Emerson's easy to lump into the category of overrated privileged white men, it's also true that in his writings intersect just about every major ...more
Melissa Rudder
I can't resist Emerson. I enjoyed Nature much less than "Self Reliance" but I still found myself admiring his prose. For a writer who said "I hate quotations," he sure supplies a plethora of pithy lines.

My main problem with Nature was how anthropocentric it was. Nature is a powerful force through which the poet experiences the sublime and can gather fundamental truths, yet Emerson repeatedly asserts that it is a servant of "man," which bothered me. I was also slightly disturbed by Emerson's ent
Agnes Fontana
Ralph Waldo Emerson est un homme extraordinaire, une sorte de Kant qui aurait passé une bonne journée à courir dans les forêts et les prairies ou un Rousseau vigoureux et optimiste. Il voit la nature, et l'homme lui-même, comme un démembrement, une manifestation d'une sorte de grand tout, l'Esprit. Chacun doit suivre sa nature, qui est bonne parce qu'elle est divine et unique, et non les usages ou la société, qui sont plutôt corrompus. Il est important de compter sur soi-même (self reliance). Il ...more
Greening USiena
Dal mio punto di vista, qualsiasi progetto, per essere realmente sentito e condiviso, deve portare con sé un corrispondente bagaglio morale e filosofico. Non può nascere nessuna attività concreta se il seme del pensiero non è ancora maturato, creando i pilastri sui quali fondare tutto il resto. L'ispirazione che mi ha spinto a proporre l'idea di Greening USiena si sostanzia nella necessità che il nostro agire sia profondamente interiorizzato, che in noi sia radicato il deciso e libero convincime ...more
Mark Smeltz
Passages like this are great:

"To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone. The tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street, and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself."

Parts like this are more troubling:

"Nature is thoroughly mediate. It is made to serve. It receives the dominion of man as meekly as the ass on which the Savior rode."

The essay alternate
Rakhi Dalal
Emerson speaks about Nature with such an enthusiasm.He speaks of the integrity of impression given by natural objects.He believes that in woods, we return to reason and faith and that nothing can befall us in life- no disgrace and no calamity.......and we feel that we are part or particle of God.

But to whom this reason appease? Its true that that the existence of nature and Us too can not be ignored, but what joy does it give to the souls who are looking out for a reason for the existence itself
My version had essays on Nature, History and Self-Reliance. My impression was that Emerson was one smart guy. The essays are packed with wisdom in so many places across so many areas of thought. It's definitely not always easy to read. The writing is often frilly and complex. It's also threaded with examples from classics (I haven't read) throughout. That said he's an extremely poetic writer and the book was worth reading for any one of his lines of wisdom from any of the essays. I particularly ...more
I'm not sure if this is the exact copy I have, but the essay on Nature is so beautifully written. He manages to describe the simple spiritual upliftment people can access through natural scenery. Emerson was very controversial in his time because his philosophies went against the Church's idea that you must go through the institution/a third party to access spirituality. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, Emerson writes brilliantly and I find his words life-affirming - they make me happy to b ...more
Ralph Waldo Emerson covered many aspects of men in many essays. Nature-oriented and thought-provoking, many points have been discussed around men’s relation with nature, how men can learn truth from nature, and what virtues men can possess while interacting with nature. In a society where we emphasize on external pursuits, these essays emphasize on internal pursuit - how to build intellect, will, and affection, what forms nature of a man. Mostly importantly, how men should see through the surfac ...more
I picked up this piece because of Emerson's known role as a mentor of Thoreau, and was curious to find out what he had to say of our state of being. I'd wager his writing style is even more abstract and metaphorical than that of his successor - the nods to ancient Greece and Rome, and the old continent in general, are bordering on excessive. Also, the Bible plays a lot greater part in his works - the lack of this might have resulted Thoreau to have a lot more redeeming, timeless value for future ...more
Who doesn't love Emerson? Raise your hand so that I can stop being your friend.
At least Thoreau sort of made sense and vaguely defined his terms.

Emerson says "The soul must stand erect," and I have no idea of what the heck he's even talking about.

For some interesting reason that I cannot begin to fathom, my classmates like Thoreau and Emerson. I think they said that they like the poetic phrasings and metaphors. I like poetry...when it's in poetry. Not in essays.

And I'm getting tired of Emerson saying that goodness is found in mankind.


I know it's not nice, but half
John Lucy
The Shammbhala Library is the most eclectic publishing library ever concocted. Because of that, I can't well imagine that this particular collection of Emerson's writings will find its way into many American's homes, though it is very well done. That's rather beside the point, anyway, since just about any collection of Emerson will include the writings found here: "The Sphinx," "The Poet," "Bacchalus," "Circles," "Nature," "Self-Reliance," "The Divinity School Address," and a few others. Not eve ...more
In this essay he paints the relationship humans possess with nature and how we as human's can find solace and inspiration in nature. He paints an entire philosophical thought process of how we are connected with all parts of the God's creation.

I am sure Emerson's philosophy could be debunked by serious philosophers. Yet, this essay, as one who learned to worship God in nature, instinctively jived with me.
Anne Nikoline
Jul 26, 2015 Anne Nikoline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American Renaissances fans
Recommended to Anne Nikoline by: English teacher
I read this for my course in the English Renaissances, and I to be honest I am not sure if I would have chosen it for myself. That said, I am very delighted to have read this - to own a copy - because Nature and Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson has been a great influence on some of the great, American writers and to see what they got inspired by feels like a privilege.

To say that I that I enjoyed all of Emerson's essay would be false, but I really enjoyed his Over-Soul, The American Schol
Leonard Waks
Perhaps the starting point of the great American philosophical tradition. Essays such as 'nature,' 'friendship,and 'self-reliance' set the agenda for the American essayist.
3 1/2 stars This is a comprehensive collection of his essays including two on Nature,plus Character, Prudence, Intellect, Spiritual Laws, Love, Beauty, Gifts, Circles, Compensation and the American Scholar. It is thought-provoking but at the same time, part of it feels dated in that so much more is known about nature in particular, and from time to time his comparisons also show a lack of recent knowledge. But if you like Emerson, you should read these essays.
Overall just ok, though the Nature essay does contain my new favorite quote: "The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable." Hah! And it's awesome in every sense of the word "occult", which has a few definitions: 1) of or relating to supernatural influences, 2) beyond human comprehension, and 3) available only to the initiate; secret. Indeed.
Zack Mollhagen
I decided to finish this since it is Emerson's birthday today. I can conclude that this is a fascinating read which is undoubtedly profound. It's not as approachable as Walden, and many of the analogies flew right over my head, but nonetheless it caused some great reflection as all good philosophy does. "The Happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship."
Michael Avery
This is Emerson. This volumes alternates essay and poem. Of course, "Self-Reliance" is a highlight, but there are several other good essays, including "Compensation," "Spiritual Laws," and "The Poet," where he basically summons Walt Whitman into being. I didn't find his poetry to be as good as his essays were. But this is a good overview of his most influential work.
I think I may have enjoyed this more if I hadn't had to schlep through it in a very very unlively class. In Nature, Emerson lays down the basic philosophy of the transcendentalists. It is important to realize how much of an influence Emerson was on his contemporaries as we see reactions to his ideas in the work of Thoreau, Hawthorne and Melville, to name just a few.
One of the fathers of the Romantic and Naturalist movement. You must read his works on Nature, Self-Reliance, and Experience. The majority of Romantic works are canonized by and reflect such ideas like the transparent eye. Emerson stresses the relationship between man and nature, nature's gateway to knowledge, and the humanity of the Natural world.
Nature is endlessly frustrating, but simultaneously endlessly valuable. Emerson repeats himself incessantly and the text is more sermon than prose. But, Nature (albeit initally anonymously self-published) was Emerson's first real publication and represents a time of revolution and transience in American Literature.
Michael Arnold
Well, isn't this an interesting book. I have a feeling that I might like Emerson more with more time. Still, interesting stuff.
I'm giving this 5 stars because it includes the essay "Self Reliance," which I think it basically scripture.

His address to the Divinity College, and his essay on Compensation are pretty great.

The poems, I'd give two stars. Not really a fan of Emerson's poems.
I am a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson, his essay are like a window to his mind. I like the way he thinks and his great effort to reform a materialistic world.
Nature helped me understand Transcendentalism and got me a good grade on my examination.
Nature changed the way I looked at United States History. Not only a must read for philosophy students (obviously) but for American History students who want to study how Intellectual history changed social history.
Anda Manteufel
I had to force myself to slow-down and concentrate on each word. Kinda like being back in undergrad or something. But it was very good. I think being forced to slow-down was a reflection of the essence of this essay.
The parts about nature and language are particularly engaging, but the central thrust of his argument is quite simple when it all boils down. I don't know, Emerson is a lot of bombast and not much results.
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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 Essays and Lectures

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“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” 300 likes
“I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.” 123 likes
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