Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Selected Essays” as Want to Read:
Selected Essays
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Selected Essays

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  393 Ratings  ·  13 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Selected Essays, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Selected Essays

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Robert
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
...more
Julie
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
...more
Sharla
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.
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
Judith
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
...more
Erica
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
Scott
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?
Laura
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good stuff.
Bob Gilbert
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just lovely.
Shelli
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.
Armando
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!
Ima.lotus
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A book which makes you need a cup of coffee and a second reading.
Abby
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, essays, 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.
Max
rated it really liked it
Apr 16, 2013
Suzy
rated it it was amazing
Jan 22, 2008
Emily
rated it it was ok
Nov 22, 2015
Fran
rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2009
Naomi Ewings
rated it it was amazing
Dec 24, 2014
Ann
rated it it was ok
Sep 09, 2016
Donna Donnellan
rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2016
Claudia
rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2007
Emily Blackmon
rated it it was amazing
Mar 14, 2015
Jess
rated it really liked it
Nov 23, 2007
Brian Ray
rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2013
Steve Morrison
rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2011
Doc Burns
rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2016
Jennifer
rated it liked it
May 06, 2015
Pshtiwan
rated it it was amazing
Sep 09, 2014
Brie
rated it it was amazing
Jan 02, 2017
no place
rated it it was amazing
May 09, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Sound of Mountain Water
  • Walden and Other Writings (Modern Library Classics)
  • Great Sonnets
  • Phaedrus and Letters VII and VIII
  • Work: A Story of Experience
  • Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Studies in Environment and History)
  • Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
  • Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood
  • Selected Essays
  • Voyages and Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation
  • Creeds of the Churches: A Reader in Christian Doctrine from the Bible to the Present
  • Psychology: The Briefer Course
  • Brand
  • Selected Stories of Eudora Welty: A Curtain of Green And Other Stories / The Wide Net and Other Stories
  • On a Theatre of Marionettes
  • Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs
  • Playing With Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul
  • The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas
12080
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...

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…