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The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Collected Works)

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,398 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews

The only collection of the complete First and Second Series of essays by America's most popular sage, available in an affordable paperback edition. A must for students of American culture and literature.

Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 1876)
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Eli
Mar 02, 2009 Eli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would like to preface this review by saying that the body of the review has a lot "spiritual" talk and some people may find my words trite and very syrupy about my inner thoughts on life. So if you are feeling cynical right now, I think you will have a good chuckle. And, if you are like me, someone who always is searching, then maybe you will relate.


Growing up I've always been hopscotching from book to book looking for the tome that could lead my life. When I was 10 or 11 I began pulling the b
...more
Katie Dreyer
Aug 17, 2009 Katie Dreyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My Bible.
Dave Maddock
Dec 11, 2008 Dave Maddock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Emerson, for whom my eldest son is named, had a profound effect on me as a teenager. His essays were the first piece of "serious" literature I undertook to read for personal education around age 16. Though I can't say I wholly subscribe to them these days, his ideas on individualist spirituality resonated with me, coming from a Christian family which encouraged self-discovery--with the caveat that your discoveries were orthodox. For someone as intellectually curious as I am, this environment led ...more
Bekah
Jul 14, 2008 Bekah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emerson, oh so wise:

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.

A great man is always willing to be little.

A man is what he thinks about all day long.


All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.

Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.

Character is higher than intellect. A
...more
Marcus
Aug 25, 2014 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, american
No review, just one quote about children from the essay "Nature": Read it, it's kind of funny.
The child with his sweet pranks, the fool of his senses, commanded by every sight and sound, without any power to compare and rank his sensations, abandoned to a whistle or a painted chip, to a lead dragoon or a gingerbread-dog, individualizing everything, generalizing nothing, delighted with every new thing, lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue which this day of continual pretty madness has in
...more
Usha
Aug 04, 2012 Usha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emerson teaches me something new every time I read him.
Bruce
Sep 07, 2014 Bruce rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When the first series of these essays were first published in 1841 the author’s aunt Mary remarked that it was “a strange medly [sic] of atheism and false independence.” Other reviewers were more favorable and the two series went on to become best sellers on both sides of the Atlantic. I think Aunt Mary’s charge of atheism is a bit misleading, since Emerson believed in The Over-Soul, of which all individual souls participated. I expect today’s generic term would be Higher Power. However, I must ...more
David
Jun 12, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was 14 years old, my mother gave me Emerson's Essays as a gift. She always did things like this, which made me a lifelong reader of great literature. Emerson's wisdom reinforced the wisdom I had already heard or learned and added to it as well. So with that and Franklin's Autobiography, I made a list for self-improvement, another theme that I was at least conscious of for the rest of my life. Perfecto (R.I.P.) told my friend Xavier about the list when it dropped out of my pocket onto the ...more
Ira Therebel
Every once in a while we stumble upon a book which we are almost ashamed of not liking. This is the case for me.

I just did not like it. I was basically forcing myself to read every essay without skipping. It was so tedious and I just really didn't care what he has to say. There were a few quotes that I thought were beautiful, but those were maybe 2-3 in the whole book. Other than that I found it very hard to read and I really didn't care for his ideas and thoughts on those topics. Not even his f
...more
Keith Wilson
Nov 03, 2015 Keith Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently opened, for the first time, a volume of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson from the collection of old books in my library that I have never read. I was surprised to find that my father, whom I must’ve gotten the book from, noted on the title page that he had read it three times in his adolescence. I started to study the book, not to discover what Emerson’s thoughts were, but to learn more about my father.

When I have a client who needs to understand something about their father, I ask them
...more
Tim
Oct 13, 2012 Tim marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I've read Self-Reliance, The American Scholar, The Divinity School Address and part of Nature. I'm somewhat ashamed that I'm reading them for the first time here at the age of forty. Yet, I don't know how much of it I would have appreciated at a younger age. In my literature class, I find the youth sadly apathetic despite the pop trend towards involvement. Perhaps weighty discussions at 8:00 am are a bit overwhelming for their drug and alcohol saturated minds.
Carol
Nov 13, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My mother gave me her copy of this a few years ago. Finally picked it up at just the right time, and holy crap is this good. Some of it I didn't get or had a hard time with the language or just didn't feel like reading about the particular essay topic that day. Most was just clear as a bell and rich with meaning and insight. I can't do justice to it and his gift to us with these essays in this pithy little review.
Heidi
Mar 29, 2008 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read one of the following, you aren't fit to be an American.

"The American Scholar"
"Divinity School Address"
"Nature"
"Self-Reliance"

I'll stick to that.
Magic Mike
Jul 02, 2014 Magic Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really connected with Ralph Waldo Emerson through these essays. Though I live in a very different time then he did, what I learned from his writings is that some things weren't so different. People, really, haven't changed all that much. We are still asking the same questions and struggling with the same philosophical problems. It both comforted me to read so many thoughts that were so close to my own and troubled me in that it has been so long since these writings and humanity still hasn't se ...more
Niranjan
Oct 01, 2015 Niranjan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Poetic, but Emerson makes too many generalisations and talks about them like law. Very disappointed.
Art
Self-Reliance, one of Emerson's twenty-one essays in this collection, came recommended from Sven Birkerts last fall in his own anthology.

We all read Emerson in school. I remember reading this essay then. But today the ponderous writing obscures the fine points that he makes. I will come back to this book at a quieter time for my own pondering.

This is a fine anthology with good introduction, notes and chronology. Looking forward to returning sometime down the calendar.
Stacy Parrish
Aug 17, 2007 Stacy Parrish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who strive for peace
Shelves: oldfavorites
I love Emerson. Someday I will move to my own Walden Pond.
Joe Sabet
When he sticks to the topic and is clear, it's wonderful. For example, he wrote a nice essay in another book about his Thoreau; he stuck to the subject, made sense, and ended it superbly. The majority of his essays in the current book had me scratching my head. To me, he comes across as dogmatic, pedantic, and mysterious (because it is rare that he clearly makes a point). I think he feared his ideas were mundane and tried to sugarcoat his writing with fluff and digressions. Or maybe I'm at a los ...more
Megan
Jan 04, 2008 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megan by: Dad
I've read most of these, on and off, throughout middle school and high school. Even as a kid I was always of a mind for self-improvement, and with essays on topics such as "Self-Reliance" "Friendship" and "Experience" how could I resist the idea that maybe some great thinker had pondered out some of my problems before, and written out his musings for me to read and synthesize into my own developing personality? The scary thing is, I hardly remember these essays. I should probably read at least t ...more
Andy Huang
This book is a must read for any intellectual out there. While one can not agree with all of Emerson's proposals, one can find strong revelations in his or her own philosophies. While quite dense and hard to digest, Emerson provides a great model on how to live. For anyone interested in spiritual enlightenment or searching spirituality, please do check out this.
Bob
Sep 16, 2011 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top100
e-book edition which contains both first series & second series.

This was very dense prose. It didn't flow very well and it was easy to lose track of the points he was trying to make.

But ...

I bookmarked on my electronic copy many interesting things he had to say. Just one example ...

"... the poet is the Namer or Language-maker, naming things sometimes after their appearance, sometimes after their essence ... The poets made all the words ... For though the origin of most of our words is forgot
...more
Joseph Voelbel
Aug 05, 2015 Joseph Voelbel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These are tiny little nuggets of intellectual gold. Read any one. In any order. I read all of them. Definitely recommended in a 'making of' kind of way. I found Emerson far more profound and interesting than Thoreau, his popular pupil.
Ahmet Uçar
Very well written essays. However i havent read it all.
"Nature is a cloud for-ever changing and ever the same"
JCR
Jun 21, 2015 JCR rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I keep this by my side always...no writer is more articulate about certain essentials of life.
Jessica
very thorough collection of Emerson's works
Adam
Jan 02, 2016 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much more difficult reading than I expected.
Ben Harrison
Jul 16, 2013 Ben Harrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetn ...more
Aaron
Feb 21, 2015 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
some good shit.
Lee
Jun 14, 2009 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read Compensation because there was a time when Emerson's words spoke so deeply to me. Wanted to see how I felt about his words again now. The concluding paragraph of Compensation still stands as an inspiring manifesto. Particularly when I've found myself in the midst of deep change, that paragraph speaks volumes to me.

I don't 100% agree with Emerson's dualistic view of things. I try and take into account his life and times, but what I love about Emerson is how deeply he thought and what he
...more
Missie
Apr 05, 2014 Missie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Even decades later many of these essays ring true. I must admit that some essays caused my eyes to glaze over but more often I was entranced.
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Goodreads Feedback: Adding quotes by prolific authors 3 198 Aug 12, 2011 02:14PM  
  • The Norton Shakespeare, Based on the Oxford Edition: Histories
  • The Talisman
  • Essays: Moral, Political and Literary
  • Early Writings
  • The Poems of Robert Browning
  • The Essays
  • A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation
  • Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers (Cambridge)) (Volume 1)
  • Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica
  • The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death
  • Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs
  • The Essays, Vol. 1: 1904-1912
  • On the Social Contract: with Geneva Manuscript and Political Economy
  • The Basics of Social Research
  • Existentialists and Mystics Writings on Philosophy and Literature
  • Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales
  • A Return to Virtue
  • The Poems
12080
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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