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The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

4.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,702 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Introduction by Mary Oliver
Commentary by Henry James, Robert Frost, Matthew Arnold, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry David Thoreau

The definitive collection of Emerson’s major speeches, essays, and poetry, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson chronicles the life’s work of a true “American Scholar.” As one of the architects of the transcendentalist movement, Emers
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Published September 30th 2009 by Modern Library (first published November 15th 1983)
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Meghan Koos
Feb 07, 2008 Meghan Koos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say 'I think,' 'I am,' but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown fl
Dec 26, 2013 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In reading Emerson it readily becomes apparent why it is that such as Nietzsche revered his essaying person, tapping as he does into that interior reserve of the individual spirit who—whether she be isolated in starlit reclusion or thronged by fellow beings in day aglow bustle—must grapple, at the last, with the fact that she is alone and in that solitariness must self-arm to face the enduring struggle of time-taut life. I don't always agree with Emerson (or Nietzsche, for that matter) but I lov ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Can anybody truly be done reading emerson?
Nov 09, 2007 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Emerson is my favorite poet/philosopher, and this one volume contains all his writings you could ever need. I agree with Emerson wholeheartedly about 33% of the time, disagree with him vehemently about 33%, and can't decide whether I agree or not the rest of the time. But he's always compelling, even if I think he's dead wrong.

The greatest thing about Emerson is how quotable he is. There are dozens of great one-liners here. One of my favorites: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little m
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 07, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gluttons for Punishment?
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Good Reading: 100 Significant Books
American philosopher and Harvard professor Stanley Cavell claims "Emerson and Thoreau... are the founding philosophers of America" and comparable to Plato. Before reading this I tackled Thoreau. Emerson was his mentor, and they were both considered part of the Transcendental circle in mid-Century America. I found Emerson less irritating than Thoreau, but less readable and challenging. By challenging I don't mean less difficult, but less thought-provoking. I think Emerson is harder to parse, to " ...more
Mar 19, 2015 sologdin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
anti-slavery racist, which is better than a pro-slavery racist. pantheist mysticism. philistine naturalism (i.e., 'transcendentalism'). bleh.
Apr 09, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is my jack off material. gorgeous language. "self-reliance" is life changing.
Tom Shadyac
Apr 09, 2013 Tom Shadyac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
It’s hard to overstate what the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson have done to awaken me to beauty and truth. Emerson packs more wisdom in one sentence than most writers articulate in a lifetime. Mary Oliver, the best selling poet in America told me simply, “Emerson is all you need.”

Though Emerson writes on a myriad of topics, his thematic core is consistent: “All things are made of one hidden stuff.” “The world globes itself in a drop of dew.” “The heart and soul of all men being one, this bitter
Feb 28, 2009 Stacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't think I'll read the whole thing, but:

At first I had no clue what Emerson was talking about, and I chalked it up to him being all transcendentalist. Then I got to "Intellect" and things started to hit home. Then I read (ironically enough) "Transcendenalist" and not only did I become convinced that (1) Emerson is worth reading and (2) Emerson is worth reading as philosophy but also that (a) he lines up well with a lot of pragmatic ideas and (b) he lines up well with a lot of my own personal
Mar 02, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: always-reading
Ralph Waldo Emerson is probably my favorite philosopher/poet. He combines poetry and prose wonderfully, treating human affairs, emotions and morals purely as aspects of nature, and all of nature as having the same soul as people. The range of his subjects is wide and varied, from the most metaphysical aspects of reality to the most mundane actions of daily life. Despite him having written in the mid 19th century, and often writing more as a poet than most philosophers, his writing is pretty stra ...more
Amy Jenkins
Apr 20, 2011 Amy Jenkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Back to Basics: Reading Emerson

Reading Emerson might make readers slightly sad (more about that later), not that Emerson expresses gloom in his most influential essays: Nature, TheDivinity School Address, and Self Reliance. His words reflect the optimism he felt for the power of the individual to understand how they fit into the world and how they might serve their community and country. A child of the American Revolution, he and his audience...
Continue reading on The Essential Wri
can't honestly review this SPECIFIC version, but it seems to contain most (if not ALL) of RWE's works that I have ever read (& re-read, & pondered, & studied...) both during school for a grade, & on my own... seeking answers, seeking guidance, beating myself up for not knowing the answer to the great WHY??? questions of LIFE. Struggling to find myself, my voice, my LIFE apart from others, despite others, determined to rise above & not repeat the same mistakes, make the same p ...more
Ross Cohen
Nov 04, 2015 Ross Cohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Repetition beautifully articulated.
James Becker
May 27, 2014 James Becker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emerson writes with the self-assurance of one who has lived a life in the name of beauty and truth. Ne'er is there a word which, spoken, makes him seem a superior to any, but his voice rings like that of a pastor or an older brother—encouraging, illuminating and always standing by. The poetry and humanity which instills vivacity and zest to his rational arguments breathes life not only into his work but also into the heart of the reader. Not merely because they are beautiful, not merely because ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The answers to all of my questions about life can be found in the pages of this book. Love, friendship, nature, politics, ethics, and the complex challenges that make up human experience are all examined in a moving, beautiful, eloquent and fiercely intelligent way.

A cherished part of my library.
This is a very deep book--very fitting for a deep person such as myself. :o) Seriously, this book is a lot to chew and I'm only reading it for English. However, I can honestly say that the parts I understood really were kind of interesting.
Apr 27, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
"To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty; and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before and which shall never be seen again."
I read most of this collection during an independent study during my junior year of college. I picked it up again last night and can't put it down; Emerson changed the way I think about everything.
Aug 18, 2012 Kris is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Ahhhh......if only we lived in the same era and could share a cup of coffee on a big white porch of a grand old house on main street USA.
J. Alfred
Oct 13, 2014 J. Alfred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trancendentalism, when I was a kid, just meant transparent eyeballs, proto-hippies, and heretical nonsense. That's still all there, but I think there's a depth to Emerson that is very much worth experiencing. There's something vigorous and healthy about his idea of moral heroism and his stoical self reliance. "Man is the dwarf of himself... Man is a god in ruins." Stirring!
Edison Flores
Jun 09, 2014 Edison Flores rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every now and again I have to pull the pages off the shelf and get some inspiration for my own writing or revitalize my own curiosity and love of natural beauty and wonder
Dec 31, 2015 Draven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will be a honest, this collection is a commitment and it's not for everyone but if you have the same thirst for knowledge and genuine joy for learning as I do, Emerson is the thinker for you. Savvy if not yet modern, insightful without being patronizing or pushy, much of what Emerson put to paper is still relevant today.

But if there is only one thing I can recommend from the entire collection above all else, it is his American Scholar essay. Every university student, past, present and future s
Feb 10, 2014 Alissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
will enhance and expand any mind with wisdom and freedom and genuine love of life
Ginnie Grant
Dec 12, 2014 Ginnie Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learn to live deliberately. suck the marrow out of life. read this book.
Tim Harper
Always returning to this wonderful book.
John Reed
Feb 29, 2016 John Reed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly insightful, but a little long-winded.
India N'nepal
Jul 05, 2014 India N'nepal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I might absolutely love this book
Jun 22, 2007 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who seek insight on the relationship between man and world
Shelves: recently-read
This is a huge book that contains not only every influential essay Emerson wrote, but also a lot of his poetry and a very good introductory biography. Emerson is the perfect author for those who are going through a philosophical awakening and are looking for insights into the world and the way we as humans relate to it, and therefore ourselves. Don't expect a fully developed, systematic philosophy here; transcendentalism is more of a way of seeing things.

Self-Reliance remains my personal favorit
Apr 21, 2016 Ladan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just realized I've been reading this book off and on for 5 years! Well I finally finished... Phew. It's hard to rate a collection. There are works in here that are 5 stars and move you to your core and there are works that are 3 stars. (I'm not sure everything included can be called the "essential" Emerson... Like the chapter on Gifts? Snooze.) But if nothing else, people should take a read of his divinity school address, works regarding abolition, and commentary on Thoreau.
May 12, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone going through an existental crisis
To be honest, I haven't even come close to reading this entire book - I think I was assigned two or three essays in a college sophomore English class. But the presence of "Self-Reliance" alone makes it an essential part of my desert-island library. This is the essay where Emerson makes the famous statement "Trust thyself," and the rest of the essay lays out why. "Self-Reliance" is the ultimate weapon against any bout of insecurity or low self-esteem.
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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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