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Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  486 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Ralph Waldo Emerson stands as one of the great figures of nineteenth-century America. More than any other man he personifies the brilliant late flowering of the New England tradition. This Signet Classic edition of selections from Emerson's Journals, Letters, Essays, and Poetry offers a broad view of the author's finest work. Featured here is a considerable amount of new m ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Signet Classic edition, 479 pages
Published November 1st 1965 by New American Library (first published January 1st 1950)
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Community Reviews

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Roy Lotz
People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.

I expect most people read Emerson in college, which I suppose is the perfect time to do so. The man seems constantly to be speaking to the young, wide-eyed, enthusiastic, hopeful liberal arts major in me. There’s just something wonderfully youthful about Emerson’s attitude; he never grew out of that adolescent feeling of omnipotence, that we can all recreate the world if we are just authentically ourselves. This sounds cr
...more
Catherine
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty good, but it was a little bit like being in a hallmark store. About every third paragraph an aphorism jumps out and tries to make me buy an inspirational coffee cup. Hallmark should include the subversive context on their calendars...
Don Stanton
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much a mood read for me. Philosophical renderings on self reliance and dependence at the lowest level, the individual. A good choice for reading for long stretches of uninterrupted time.
Nick
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book's in two parts: Journals and Letters, and Essays and Addresses. I've only read the first part so far, but intend to return the second "someday".

Anyway, I enjoyed the first part. Many of the entries are fairly short, and I couldn't help but think about twitter/blogs.

p. 41: Satisfaction with our lot is not consistent with the intentions of God & with our nature. It is our duty to aim at change, at improvement, at perfection. It is our duty to be discontented, with the measure we have
...more
Maggie
63:
July 21, 1837
Courage consists in the conviction that they with whom you co tend are no more than you. If we believed in the existence of strict individuals (itl), natures, that is, not radically identical but unknown, immeasurable, we should never dare fight.

The American Scholar
69 - One must be an inventor to read well.
72 Character is higher than intellect.
78 Give me insight into today . . . the near explains the far.
79 The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic co
...more
Rick
Jan 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I was glad to start this anthology of Emerson's writings with the journal entries, the least challenging entry point. It eased me into his 19th century style of writing and thought and well-prepared me for the essays and lectures that followed, which are the real joy and benefit of Emerson's work. Emerson's view of a larger, fluid universal soul that contains all is a comforting one for this secular humanist. It contains the benefits of most religious beliefs without the problematic parts (insti ...more
Arthur
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From very early on, I have had an affinity for Emerson and his at-times complex, yet remarkably simple and poignant ideas and explanations. Without question, Self-Reliance, played an integral part in my life.

This books contains some of his most powerful.

Said he, "whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an e
...more
Kit
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
4 months and 930pp later, I put this to bed. What's worth returning to? Essays Vols 1 & 2 (esp. Self Reliance, Experience, Friendship, Circles, Nature), the eulogy for Thoreau and that for John Brown, the American Scholar, The Div School Address, The Transcendentalist, The Lord's Supper, a handful of poems. His study of English traits is the most fun read in the collection.

The representative Representative Men and Conduct of Life essays are kinda boring. Most of the poems are not that great
...more
James
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in Boston served as fertile ground for connecting with great 19th century writers who lived and created in the area. I am fond of the transcendentalist movement, his great poetry, and superbly written essays. His essay on friendship should be taught to all who truly want to have friends in their lifetime. "To make ones life breathe easier is to have succeeded". A great contribution to literature and philosophy.
Jen
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emerson is hard to read. I only read Nature and Self-Reliance, but both were excellent essays, and both contributed much to my view of the world. Nature is probably one of the hardest essays in the book, but it is well worth the thinking required to get through it. You will have to do some rereading, but that's just a sign of good literature. I also had a professor try to quiz me on Nature once. That's just mean, please don't do that to anyone. I love Emerson, and I hope you do, too.
Tommy Lee
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Emerson made his writing so descriptive and personal that I was able to garner a vicarious experience of early to mid 19th century American culture. It was interesting to watch Emerson allow age and life experience to change him from an idealistic religious romantic to a full-blown cynic still hanging on to minuscule religious rooting convictions.
Kathryn
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of his philosophy is really beautiful (if sometimes outdatedly a bit racist/sexist), but I enjoyed the excerpts from his journals at the beginning more than any of the crafted pieces. I think he must have been a wonderful speaker.
Will
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-undated
This was used in my 400-level American Transcendentalist class in college; nice selection and very good supporting material in the book.
Jack Hansen
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this compilation of Emerson's notes and diary entries as he evolved into the amazing man he was, revered as one of the world's greatest thinkers in his lifetime.
Matthew Jay
I really love some messages in this book but it just doesn't flow well. Something I will have to come back to in the future.
Ananya
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read just one essay called Self Reliance but I'd be willing to read the rest of them. some texts just move you in a very positive way.:)
Kate
Feb 27, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelved
so as I stumble clumsily through Whitman's Leaves of Grass, I decided to back up a bit, to one of Whitman's first encouragers=Emerson.
TrenTren
Dec 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did my thesis on Emerson and adore his work.
Julie
May 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I didn't like reading Emerson. I feel pressure to give this a 3 rating because of his acclaim (by others).
Kalia
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really hard to read, but it was very enjoyable. The meaning of the essays are very deep and memorable. Emerson must have been a genius in his time.
Amanda
Oct 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my Bible--hands down.
Merritt
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice. Not something you'd be hooked to and will think of over and over... but overall Emerson's language and ideas are so beautiful, and some of the writing in there is just brilliant.
Sophia
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Feb 06, 2012
David Surman
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Lawrence
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Feb 26, 2007
Nicole
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Ashley
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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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“One man thinks justice consists in paying debts, and has no measure in his abhorrence of another who is very remiss in this duty and makes the creditor wait tediously. But that second man has his own way of looking at things; asks himself Which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the poor? the debt of money or the debt of thought to mankind, of genius to nature? For you, O broker, there is not other principle but arithmetic. For me, commerce is of trivial import; love, faith, truth of character, the aspiration of man, these are sacred;” 3 likes
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