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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,018 ratings  ·  62 reviews
By the American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. He is often identified as the first writer to develop a uniquely American literary style and vision, rather than following in the footsteps of his contemporaries who were strongly influenced by their British cultural heritage. He was considered one of the great ora ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published May 18th 2007 by Dodo Press (first published January 1st 1894)
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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
Dave Maddock
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
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
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
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
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.
If you haven't read one of the following, you aren't fit to be an American.

"The American Scholar"
"Divinity School Address"

I'll stick to that.
Magic Mike
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
Stacy Parrish
Aug 17, 2007 Stacy Parrish rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Jan 04, 2008 Megan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Ahmet Uçar
Very well written essays. However i havent read it all.
"Nature is a cloud for-ever changing and ever the same"
Ben Harrison
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
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
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.
Ml Stephens
This was one of those "I should have finished this in college" return trips. Emerson attacks ideas in an exclusively American way, one of vigor, amateur spirit, and (misplaced but endearing) certainty. Want to understand where we came from, why we're still arguing about what our fundamental rights really are, what makes the citizens of this country (all of us) so flawed and fabulous? Then read it. If you don't care, try Twilight.
Valerie Thompson
I first read this book in the late 80s as it was required reading as part of studies I was undertaking about mind power and the creativity of thought, under an American New Thought movement. And along with Man's presumptuous Brain, by H.T.W Simeons, it represents one of a handful of books that has greatly influenced me. I still have my original copy, and bought a copy recently for a friend for his birthday.
Emerson is a great essayist because, if for no other reason, he makes you engage in debate with yourself. I found a lot of ideas that I agreed with and others that challenged me, all within the same couple of pages.

Strangely, the essay I had the most trouble with, as a personal philosophy, was the essay on peace. I'm a pro-peace guy, but as a philosophy Emerson's pacifism seemed hopelessly naive.
My dad gave me a copy of his leather bound collection of Emerson essays when I was in my early 20s. The book is probably a hundred years old, with beautiful rice paper. I keep it locked up in special place so it'll last for my daughter. It kept me company the summer of 1989 when I rode my moped in the evening to the orange groves outside Redlands to read Emerson and absorb his wisdom.
My brother Stan gave me Emerson's Essays in a double leather bound set. I've never stopped reading them. I just slowly read a few pages and then start over at the beginning. These words were written with such care that they are nearly ageless. The odd point out being references that were common knowledge to his circle back-in-the-day and has me searching the Internet for a connection.
Erik Graff
Oct 17, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Emerson fans, public speakers
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: philosophy
We'd read some Emerson in high school English classes and had read much about him in American History classes, but I'd never seriously attended to him until finding this old volume at a used bookstore. Thinking familiarity with him culturally important, I spent a couple of evenings reading through these essays, many of them inspirational in a quaint nineteenth-century manner.
Mark Mortensen
Emerson divides this book into free standing Essay segments titled: The Poet, Experience, Character, Manners, Gifts, Nature, Politics, Nominalist and Realist. These writings required deep thought and at times I failed to grasp some of his points and messages. Still his pieces are classic and encourage free thinking
I'm currently reading this with Eucalyptus, an iPhone application, that lets you "page" through books transcribed on Project Gutenberg. So far I'm very satisfied with the app. and Emerson too! I've thought of him with a romantic haze since I was in high school. We'll see if he measures up. ;)
Elizabeth Olson
Emerson's iconic essays are timeless. His insights, and the majesty of the language in which they are expressed, are as valuable and usable today as when they were written. Re-reading this book I had to restrain myself from highlighting yet another wonderful quote. One of my favorites.
Emerson has a way with words. These essays are beautiful, but they were very difficult for me to get through. I think that is more a reflection of me than of Emerson. The low rating reflects my enjoyment reading the essays more than the essays themselves.
Thuita J.
Wow! Quite a difficult read. Emerson wrote with a breadth and depth of knowledge which I lack at the time of this reading. I found myself floating as he referred to the works of ancient writers whose works I am not acquainted with.
Harper Curtis
It is a great pleasure to read these essays in a book. Of course, they can be found online, but reading them in a printed book, on paper between covers, is a great pleasure, and this edition from Belknap Press leaves nothing to be desired.
Jim Aker
One must struggle a bit with the antiquated language and occasionally he is unclear in his meaning and direction. However despite that there is much wisdom in these essays. I recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy.
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  • The Talisman
  • The Norton Shakespeare, Based on the Oxford Edition: Comedies
  • Robert Browning's Poetry
  • Essays: Moral, Political and Literary
  • Reconstruction in Philosophy
  • Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers (Cambridge)) (Volume 1)
  • A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation
  • The Decay of Lying
  • On the Social Contract: with Geneva Manuscript and Political Economy
  • Writings of Abraham Lincoln
  • The Poems
  • The Door in the Wall and Other Stories
  • The Essays
  • The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death
  • The Selections from the Principles of Philosophy
  • Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative
  • Writings
  • Maxims and Reflections
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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