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Nature

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,242 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Together in one volume, Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature and Henry David Thoreau's Walking, writing that defines our distinctly American relationship to nature.
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published December 1st 1985 by Beacon Press (MA) (first published 1836)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,242 ratings  ·  185 reviews


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Whitney Atkinson
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
i would like to meet one (1) person who understands any of this.

there’s some good one liners that i agree with, but most of this book just sounded like a crackhead conspiracy theorist standing on a street corner and yelling WE ARE ALL A TRANSLUCENT EYE THAT CONNECTS US TO THE SPIRIT OF THE UNIVERSE like wut......

far too philosophical and spiritual for me. i much prefer works about the sublime.
Debbie Zapata
Emerson's essay Nature pretty much defeated me. I read Self-Reliance years ago and was incredibly impressed and inspired, but although I think Nature was included in the little volume I still have up in Arizona, I don't remember reading it at the time. So when I had the opportunity to include this in a challenge, I was looking forward to reading what Emerson had to say.

But although at times I thought I was just about to grasp his ideas so that I could say "Eureka, I see what you are saying!" it
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Sarah Booth
Emerson was an ADD/ADHD nightmare in his writing style. I found myself having to reread sentences/paragraphs a lot. This was read directly after reading Thoreau’s Walden so perhaps I am not being fair to him. Thoreau’s direct and clear writing contrasted Emerson’s and I felt I needed Emerson to define his capitalized words like Mind, Nature etc to make sure we were on the same page so to speak. Emerson’s style reminded me a lot of Mary Baker Eddy.
There were some interesting ideas but I had to r
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carl  theaker
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoorz
Fascinating!

This essay by Emerson takes up about 56 of this little book's pages, and I feel like I could write about 100 pages on it.

Written in 1836, it's interesting that Emerson starts off with how the current generation never got to face nature at its most pure, that was a task their forefathers got to experience. You know, they had it easy in 1836!

Sometimes he has a thought merging Nature, Man and Spirit that is simple, in sentence structure anyway, and I have to read it several times to
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Duane
This is an important work for Emerson, it defined him and how he viewed his fellow man and the world around him, especially the natural world. But it was difficult to read for me because of the style and of the time and place it was written. This intellectual and philosophical language from the early 19th century was just outside my ability to fully appreciate it's message.

Memorable quote: "Infancy is the perpetual Messiah, which comes into the arms of fallen men, and pleads with them to return
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Liam
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
This actually had some really nice quotes and thoughts but it just didn't really grab my interest.
booklady
“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” ~Thoreau

NATURE: After listening to Professor Arnold Weinstein’s 3 lectures on Emerson from Classics of American Literature (The Great Courses) I listened to this essay on LibriVox, a free resource which has many audio recordings of books in the public domain. I was very grateful for Weinstein’s preliminary explanation although I still found myself ‘at sea’ so-to-speak when it came to many of the classical and contemporary references and metaphors.
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Simo Ibourki
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is my first Emerson and it was great. The basic idea is that unlike modern dualistic view of the universe, for Emerson matter and spirit are one, so admiring nature is like admiring Jesus Christ, they both give a spiritual feeling.

Emerson loves nature and he expresses this love in such a beautiful peotic way. Nature for Emerson is a manifestation of God (or God himself, it really depends on your interpretation of the book).

I loved the chapter on nature and language, it was a beautiful (re)d
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Adnan
This is probably the best thing I have read in my life. I will review it later this week.
The third reading renders it much much more magical. In two consecutive years, it has not lost one spark of intensity and brilliance.
Lisa
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My favorite quotes: "These enchantments are medicinal, they sober and heal us."
"Cities give not the human senses room enough."
"Nature is loved by what is best in us."
Rupertt Wind
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Its poetry, pure unadulterated poetry of nature.
Rachel Nicole Wagner
I absolutely love the correlation and connection that Emmerson makes to nature throughout this beautiful piece of literature.
Love this.

xo,
Rach
Tomek
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was an uneven book. The beginning and the end are easy to read and thought provoking, while the middle is dense and obtuse. These essays are Emerson's attempts to understand why nature is valuable and what our relationship to nature should be. This is a lofty and noble goal, but I think he ultimately fell short.

He starts off by stating his premise: that being in nature gives humans unparallelled peace and happiness. He then grapples with to the reasons behind this truth in subsequent chapt
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Nicholas Armstrong
Aug 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
Emerson opens this treatise on life with powerful, captivating words, "Our age is retrospective." From here he launches into assaults on all of the assembled histories and beliefs of man and asking 'why not WE' should have advantages that our ancestors had; such as discovering philosophy, religion or the secrets of the universe - and then he goes exactly against such sentiments.

The introduction to Nature is marvelous. The opening paragraph is an argumentative essays dream and the supporting para
...more
Angela Blount
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."

Emerson's cadence and poetic influences add a pleasing finish to the tone of this essay. Despite the name of the piece, the author seems every bit as preoccupied with the supernatural as he is the natural. (I'd maintain that, from certain perspectives, the interchangeability and additional layer of wonderment does make sense.) Emerson isn't shy about his spiritual perspective. And that perspective clearly influences his abi
...more
Illiterate
Jan 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pantheistic twaddle. Stentorian proclamations are neither evidence nor argument.
Ana
I like Emerson's writing, but this feels to my modern eyes repetitive. These theme of praising nature and encouraging understanding the world through nature are so deeply engrained in our culture that the essay comes off as simplistic compared to the scientific essays I love to read. I like the section on idealism most, but the rest were just okay. That this idea of nature is so widespread must to be Emerson's credit since he brought Transcendentalism into the mainstream, but I have not studied ...more
K.A. Ashcomb
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nature isn't easy to read and understand if you think the words separately. It is more like a flow of idea you have to follow, and then maybe you will understand what his truth is. That we are all part of nature and nature isn't different from the divine or us. It is something we experience and through it, we come alive. He writes that it is a shame how we don't fully understand nature's beauty. That we live apart from it and according to the rules society has imposed us, thus we don't experienc ...more
Yash Sinojia
Penguin Great Ideas: 5/100, Series 3: 1/10

“But if a man be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and vulgar things. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many gen
...more
Cynda
Dense. Compact. Thoughtful. Insightful.

So why only 3 Stars. Lack of Clarity. Emerson did highlight his focus: Let us inquire to what end is nature. Yet I passed that focus twice. I had read past half-way point when I realized, after reading an rereading, that Emerson was simply describing various aspects of Nature and some of those aspects would be somewhat repeated.

I read this Emerson selection with a group. I move on to another selection: "Ode, Inscribed to W. H. Channing"
Frances
For a tiny set of 3 essays, this took me a surprisingly long time to finish reading. It was sort of like reading/watching Shakespeare- you have to snap into reading it, which means you have to be in the flow of reading. I found myself re-reading sections, because I'd reach the end of the page and realize I hadn't absorbed anything.

That being said, when I WAS snapped in I loved it. I don't necessarily agree with everything he believed, but much of that could be because he wrote this in the 1840s
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Danny
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Nature” (1836) is an exceptionally challenging essay, which after careful study, I still don’t entirely understand. It can be vague and contradictory at times, but to dwell on these aspects of the essay would be ungenerous, considering how rich it otherwise is. Ultimately, what Emerson is trying to sketch out is man’s relationship to Nature—both the impoverished relationship that most people have to it and the ideal relationship that we ought to strive toward—the one that only the greatest men ...more
Maelyn Books
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
My mind hurts.
Rhys O'Shea
Loved it when I first started reading it over 12 months ago and just haven't picked it up since, until today, and I realised why. Some great ideas and arguments conveyed in this book but many are quite fundamental and reading this, is to just revisit them. Really in modern society this and other similar texts are merely used by those wishing to be an intellectual and while this can stand as the foundation for that it is generally just quoted by those trying to sound intelligent. I now realise th ...more
Timothy Warnock
Aug 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I re-read Nature recently (re-reading classics that I read when I was young, but never felt I understood properly).

I love Emerson's prose, I could happily read him for hours on end; perhaps unintentional, but he comes across like an old hermit preaching in the park to no one in particular.

The philosophical view espoused in this essay seemed to suffer from his religious world-view, i.e., nature as separate from man as separate from God; that said, he is eloquent and loving of nature, as if to apo
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Lindu Pindu
If I hadn't been reading this on a train, I think I would have flung it across some room.

The subject is exhilarating to me, as a city dweller obsessed with leaving the fumes behind and going to live in the countryside, but there is the issue of the writing itself: Emerson's wit is most apparent in short sentences, as in the famous "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds", yet he mostly prefers to write long sentences that I had to read and re-read as they weren't really making a point, an
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T.R.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Emerson's 'essay' in eight Chapters is interesting from a historical perspective, as it proposes an appreciation of nature that involves transcendental and metaphysical aspects. Some passages are lyrical and highly quotable. Such as:"Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of things?". Or: "Empirical science is apt to cloud the sight, and, by the very knowledge of functions and processes, to bereave the student of the manly contemplation of the whole. The sav ...more
Michelle
Emerson's transcendentalist essay (and two others in this edition, History and Self-Reliance) present a few appreciable points about humanity's relation to and position within nature, but my twenty-first century brain kept returning to a Dr. Bronner's soap bottle as a reference: that is to say, it was a bit too rambling and woo-y for me. I read all the appropriate Wikipedia articles and get that transcendentalism was pretty groovy in its day as far as religious philosophy goes, but I can't help ...more
Howard Tobochnik
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This book had some nice ideas and quotes, but overall is very difficult to follow and understand. Here are some notable quotes:

Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort all her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. (page 10)

...The primary forms, as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping.
...more
Alan
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars was not my first choice upon reflecting on this collection of essays, but I have come to believe this is a text of great importance and worth a good read. Divided into three parts, Nature, History and Self-Reliance , Emerson's critic remains as relevant to 19th century America as it does today. Emerson's core thesis is one that stresses the importance of man IN nature and not out of it. This shocked many readers who, apparently, believed the non-civilized and wild world to be innate ...more
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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
“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship” 134 likes
“Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler's trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar's garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world.” 58 likes
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