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Selected Essays

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that an appreciation of its vast natural resources would become the foundation of American culture. His assertion that human thought and actions proceed from nature, was a radical departure from the traditional European emphasis on domesticating nature to suit human needs. His philosophy is rich in common natural scenes of daily life, and expre ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 416 pages
Published April 29th 1982 by Penguin Books (first published 1876)
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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 ·  537 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Mar 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
Ok, here's the deal because I know I am in the minority. This is just a really tough book to understand. I tried really hard to follow it, but found myself getting lost often. Emerson is a great writer, and when I was in highschool I did read some of his selections, but reading over 300 pages was pretty greulling. There were some quotes that I really liked and connected with, but overall its not something that I enjoyed.

One other negative was that the book I read was supposed to have interpretat
Jun 28, 2008 added it
Shelves: lit-19th-am
Reading Emerson with my Unitarian book group is interesting. For them, he's not just an entry in the American literary canon; he might just hold the answers to some of life's questions. It's an unusual approach for me, but refreshing. Reminds me of my freshman year of college, when I read Plato and Dante and Machiavelli not to analyze and criticize, but for their potential truth value.

In the end, though, I remain deeply suspicious of the early Emerson, and particularly his belief in a universal
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book many years ago when barely a teenager. Recently I noticed it on my mother's bookshelf and decided to refresh my memory by reading it again. I was surprised to realize these essays probably helped to shape my thinking and beliefs. That is not a bad thing.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-part
'Self Reliance', 'Divinity School Address', and 'The Over-Soul'.
I can't say Emerson's essays endear him to me at all. His system of thought is hopelessly naïf, and his aphoristic style is a double edged sword (in a way) – it makes for elegant, declamatory prose, but it also leads to misinterpretation of the sort that Captain Ahab uses to justify a monomaniacal pursuit. And more relevant to our modern times, people justify their egomania with out-of-context pithy little statements.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Besides 5 of the 6 essays and a lecture included in the most widely read Self-Reliance and Other Essays, the volume also contains several more lectures and 7 additional essays ... but my favorites still remain in the former compilation.
Hardy Bazyani
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
one of the best books you will ever read.
John Wiswell
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Philosophy readers, artists, classic readers, Americana readers
Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the fathers of the American spirit, not crafting its bill of rights or structure of government, but in defining individuality, pragmatism and spirituality for a new country built on people escaping the old. The seminal essay, "On Self-Reliance," is worth the price of this book alone, as it echoes everything our mothers told us as kids - but the rub is, this is where they got it. It is not the hardest-edged philosophy, Hell, anyone can read this and make sense of it ...more
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
e-book/project gutenberg: text is from the 1907edition by Charles E. Merrill Co, New York, ed. by Edna H.L. Turpin. It's a textbook with 275 pages and includes a variety of essays and some biographical/historical context and information:
- Life of Emerson
- Critical opinions
- Chronological list of principal works
- "The American Scholar"
- "Compensation"
- "Self Reliance"
- "Friendship"
- "Heroism"
- "Manners"
- "Gifts"
- "Nature"
- "Shakespeare: or the Poet"
- "Prudence"
- "Circles"

I enjoyed this a lot, muc
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Emerson's more popular essays are rather astounding. I think he is one of those writers whose popular work really is his goodwork--the less popular stuff comes off as didactic and repetitive. My favorites: "John Brown," "Self-Relaince," "American Scholar," and "The Poet." "The Poet" in particular is interesting in how Emerson equates the figure of the poet to "beauty" and "naming" and also speaks of the poet as having "godlike" qualities. But, Emerson quotes his own poetry three times in this es ...more
Feb 23, 2008 rated it liked it
One of the great tragedies of my grad school experience was that I read so many excellent books so quickly that I can't remember much of them except that they were good. Someone with my handwriting has written thoughtful comments all over the margins of this book, but I couldn't tell you the first thing about Emerson except perhaps that beauty and nature are good, and one should be true to oneself. Did I get that right, Mr. Emerson?
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good stuff.
Bob Gilbert
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just lovely.
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Emerson is one of my favorite authors, and has been since the early 1980s. His style is direct and enlightening, and you'll get a great view of religion in New England in the early 1800s.
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am always referring back to these wonderful essays time and time again. Self Reliance is still one of my favorites!
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A book which makes you need a cup of coffee and a second reading.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, nonfiction, nature
Beautiful, essential American prose. Emerson holds such strong opinions about everything, and he was probably a real pain in person, but he sure can write a compelling essay.
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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
“Let us be poised, and wise, and our own, today. Let us treat men and women well; treat them as if they were real; perhaps they are.” 18 likes
“Thus inevitably does the universe wear our color, and every object fall successively into the subject itself. The subject exists, the subject enlarges; all things sooner or later fall into place. As I am, so I see; use what language we will, we can never say anything but what we are.” 9 likes
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