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Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume II: Essays: First Series

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Some of Emerson's finest and most famous essays, such as "Self-Reliance," "Compensation," and "The Over-Soul," appeared in his Essays of 1841, published when he was thirty-seven years old. Preceded by the slim volume Nature, it was his first full-length book.The present edition provides for the first time an authoritative text of the Essays, together with an introduction, Some of Emerson's finest and most famous essays, such as "Self-Reliance," "Compensation," and "The Over-Soul," appeared in his Essays of 1841, published when he was thirty-seven years old. Preceded by the slim volume Nature, it was his first full-length book.The present edition provides for the first time an authoritative text of the Essays, together with an introduction, notes, and supplementary material of great value for the study of Emerson's creative processes. A list of hundreds of parallel passages in his earlier journals and lectures makes it possible to examine in detail how he drew upon those manuscripts (now published), especially the voluminous journals, as grist for the twelve essays. His subsequent alterations of the essays, particularly in the revised edition of 1847, give evidence of the evolution of his thought and style at this stage of his career. While the text incorporates his revisions, so as to represent his final intention, the earlier versions are given at the end of the book.Introduction and Notes by Joseph Slater Text Established by Alfred R. Ferguson and Jean Ferguson Carr


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Some of Emerson's finest and most famous essays, such as "Self-Reliance," "Compensation," and "The Over-Soul," appeared in his Essays of 1841, published when he was thirty-seven years old. Preceded by the slim volume Nature, it was his first full-length book.The present edition provides for the first time an authoritative text of the Essays, together with an introduction, Some of Emerson's finest and most famous essays, such as "Self-Reliance," "Compensation," and "The Over-Soul," appeared in his Essays of 1841, published when he was thirty-seven years old. Preceded by the slim volume Nature, it was his first full-length book.The present edition provides for the first time an authoritative text of the Essays, together with an introduction, notes, and supplementary material of great value for the study of Emerson's creative processes. A list of hundreds of parallel passages in his earlier journals and lectures makes it possible to examine in detail how he drew upon those manuscripts (now published), especially the voluminous journals, as grist for the twelve essays. His subsequent alterations of the essays, particularly in the revised edition of 1847, give evidence of the evolution of his thought and style at this stage of his career. While the text incorporates his revisions, so as to represent his final intention, the earlier versions are given at the end of the book.Introduction and Notes by Joseph Slater Text Established by Alfred R. Ferguson and Jean Ferguson Carr

30 review for Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume II: Essays: First Series

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nick Klagge

    Unfortunately, I barely pushed myself through this. I picked it up because it was in the "further reading" list in the back of "The Art of Stoic Joy," and of course Emerson is famous (and it's out of copyright==free). However, I really never clicked with it. I think there are two main reasons. First, I get frustrated with Emerson's mysticism--using metaphorical language and arguing by assertion, without any kind of clear logical structure for the most part. I feel like 90% of the assertions he m Unfortunately, I barely pushed myself through this. I picked it up because it was in the "further reading" list in the back of "The Art of Stoic Joy," and of course Emerson is famous (and it's out of copyright==free). However, I really never clicked with it. I think there are two main reasons. First, I get frustrated with Emerson's mysticism--using metaphorical language and arguing by assertion, without any kind of clear logical structure for the most part. I feel like 90% of the assertions he makes could easily be argued the other way. I guess this type of approach really works if it resonates with you, but it failed for me. Second, and perhaps more to my own discredit, I found the language a little dense to keep up with. This is partly just the time of writing, partly his use of figurative language, and partly my disinterest in the material that kept me from focusing that well. Finally, I don't agree with his Romantic notion that the ideal state of being is a sort of unreflective authenticity, which he associates with adolescent boys. Sorry dude, I remember what that was like, and being a grown-up is better! I would say there are some vaguely Stoic themes in the book, such as the "Self-Reliance" them of making your own judgments and not being guided by custom or authority. And in a way, by deciding not to push myself through the second volume of this work, I'm following Emerson's advice exactly--in one of these essays, he urges the reader to put down an author if he or she doesn't speak to your inner truth, no matter how revered he or she may be by others. So, that's what I'm doing!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Emerson might have written a powerful critique of conservative morality and organized religion if he’d overcome his belief in soul and God.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I highlighted every other page.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Balsam Alesawi

    Sacred book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Challenging essays that have retained their insight and vigor for nearly two centuries. I enjoyed "Self-Reliance" the most. Challenging essays that have retained their insight and vigor for nearly two centuries. I enjoyed "Self-Reliance" the most.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Drkshadow03

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In these series of essays, Emerson shares his thoughts on different topics united by the ideas that wisdom and truth are for the common man, the importance of sincerity, authenticity, and trusting our own judgements over social conventions, and that all of humanity and nature have some share in the divine and God. Anyone expecting rigorous philosophical essays with well-defined terms that build upon each other with formal logic will be disappointed. Emerson’s essays often meander from one partia In these series of essays, Emerson shares his thoughts on different topics united by the ideas that wisdom and truth are for the common man, the importance of sincerity, authenticity, and trusting our own judgements over social conventions, and that all of humanity and nature have some share in the divine and God. Anyone expecting rigorous philosophical essays with well-defined terms that build upon each other with formal logic will be disappointed. Emerson’s essays often meander from one partially developed idea to the next, preferring elaborate poetic expressions and half-developed aphorisms over rigor. In “History” Emerson argues the proper study of history is not the study of important events, governments, or great individuals from the past, but the study of ourselves. When we study the “there and then” we are really trying to understand the “here and now.” We can’t understand history correctly if we think it has nothing to do with us and our concerns today. Each historical event or famous person is something that reveals a new insight into the human experience and is a reflection of the shared ideas of the universal oversoul. The study of history should be interpreted through our individual experience because it can tell us something about who we are as individuals and as a species. As Emerson states, “There is properly no history, only biography.” In his most famous and important essay, “Self-Reliance” Emerson advocates learning to trust our own judgements. Each person has a role to play in the world and only by embracing that role can we be our true and authentic selves and discover our own unique wisdom to improve humanity. We must decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." The majority frequently follow the ideas of other people and institutions or blindly obey authority without a second thought to the point where if a person knows what church or political party you belong to they could predict your opinions and views before you have said or written a word. The reason we often don’t trust our own judgements is because we fear public opinion and being attacked for holding a contrary view to our friends and society. “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. “ In order to be a truly free human, we must be a nonconformist and not just accept something is good because tradition, society, or custom says so, but we must explore the thing that is said to be good ourselves by investigating it and experimenting with it in our lives. Even seemingly noble causes, such as giving to charity, lose their nobility if they derive from the impulse to please others and stem from social pressure. Another factor preventing us from trusting our judgements is the desire to be consistent with our past selves and sentiments. We don’t want to contradict ourselves, even though people change over time. What I might have thought was true or good yesterday might be different than what I think today. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.” The geniuses and great men of history are men who cared not for conforming to their own age, but remained honest to their own true natures and made the ages conform to them: Christ, Plato, Caesar, etc. We need to be honest with ourselves. We shouldn’t change our views or hide our real feelings about something just to please others. We should be willing to tell our loved ones, our friends, our family, our true thoughts and feelings about things, even if it is a hard truth. Emerson notes in “Compensation” that every good or beneficial thing also comes with a negative consequence. Our gaining of something almost always involves losing something else that could have potentially been valuable. Emerson suggests there is a universal principle at work in the universe that always leads to balance and equilibrium. Everything is interconnected. We cannot take out the good part of something without also receiving the bad. Everything you do has a price. “Love” celebrates the emotion as one of the great experiences of life that changes us as a person and makes us better human beings. Under the initial throes of love we often become completely unconcerned with the normal matters of everyday life. Love makes us see everything in a new light and intensifies the beauty of nature, poetry, music, and everything else in the world. The experience of love is the closest thing we can experience in the world to witnessing the divine or Plato’s forms, the closest we can get to some inexplicable divine beauty beyond mere physical form. Emerson describes love like a spark that turns into a fire and spreads its flame beyond the original relationship, lighting up the whole world. Love teaches us to see the virtues of our beloved and by extension teaches us to see what is truly beautiful and truly divine in others. As we come to intimately know one human being above all others, we come to know a little bit about all human beings. For Emerson love isn’t a mere private sentiment, but a feeling that enlarges ourselves and our relation to the whole world. “Friendship” notes that true friendship like love provides the profoundest and most satisfactory relationships in our life. It is so important and desirable that we spend our entire lives searching for new friendships and intimacy with our fellow man. Unfortunately most people spend their time forging superficial friendships based on momentary pleasures or the desire to get things from people like fancy dinners or presents, while Emerson argues we should strive for friendships of the highest kind defined by sincerity, virtue, sharing new and interesting ideas, and who are willing to put aside everyday superficial courtesies and tell us the unabashed truth when they disagree with us. We should appreciate who our friends are as people, their ideas, their deepest selves, and not the things they have and can provide us. At the same time, we should let true friendships develop naturally and not try to force them since forcing them will be counterproductive. In “The Oversoul” Emerson shares his mystical ideas about God and religion. He defends the existence of the soul by pointing out that no amount of philosophy and human analysis ever manages to give a final account of things. We are always left with the feeling that there is something more, something incomplete. This is the presence of the soul within humanity. All individual things contain God within them and are part of a single oversoul. Although we are each individuals, everything is really part of a single whole. Everything is a reflection of God. In this way, we have some of God within us. Emerson believes we must get rid of formal religion, official doctrines, dogma, traditions, and rhetoric about God in order to authentically connect with God. We can only approach God by sequestering ourselves away from other men’s thoughts and understandings about God. The oversoul inspires us and gives us insight to create great works of art and wisdom. All people can access the oversoul and for this reason no piece of wisdom really belongs to any individual person; those who say something wise, every virtuous act, involves accessing the shared wisdom of the oversoul. The wisdom of great men and religious figures such as Shakespeare or Jesus originates from the oversoul. Connecting to the oversoul allows us to see what is eternal and transcendent beyond the surface appearance of things. For this reason the teachings of Christ or other great thinkers that reflect some of the great shared wisdom of humanity that is part of the oversoul are eternal; they merely tell us the wisdom that any human could have discovered. This means that wisdom and insight and communion with God and Nature are available to each of us because we can all access this shared human wisdom and doesn’t require priests or other intermediaries. “Circles” argues that nothing in the universe is truly fixed. Everything from nature to ideas to art are always changing. There is a constant cycle of the new replacing the old. Even in science or philosophy, no law is final. One law or discovery only leads to the next law or discovery. All descriptions of fact or wisdom are approximate and not final. There is no finality. Everything is ephemeral. The danger for humanity is we can get too comfortable with old truths and grow to fear new observations, revelations, or ideas. Emerson suggests we should be willing to experiment with different ways of living. Don’t be afraid to make changes to yourself, your ideas, and your modes of life. Everything in the universe, nature, and even our own lives are constantly changing and transitioning. In “Art” Emerson suggests the best art is accessible to the common man, restores us to “the simplest states of mind,” and has a religious quality. Good art makes it seem like we are experiencing a deep religious truth that speaks to our deepest soul. It speaks to our universal nature. The artist finds true inspiration not from enacting formal rules, but rather expressing his own emotions and ideas about the world, and employing hard work to create an object that reflects and embodies these observations. Therefore when we view or consume art we must remember to look at its spirit, its deeper and universal sentiment, not just its formal structures. Art is not just for critics, but for the average person. Emerson has a lot more to say about art and literature in some of his other essays. For example, in “Self-Reliance” he notes the role of fiction and philosophy to help us accept our own thoughts that we rejected due to a lack of self-trust. “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” In the work of art, we come to see our own rejected thoughts presented to us by a different person and this process allows us to accept that our rejected ideas may have had some merit. While Emerson has this say about literature in “Circles”: “The use of literature is to afford us a platform whence we may command a view of our present life, a purchase by which we may move it. We fill ourselves with ancient learning, install ourselves the best we can in Greek, in Punic, in Roman houses, only that we may wiselier see French, English, and American houses and modes of living.” Literature gives us a way to view the state of our own life by being able to compare it to different modes of living in the past, to compare our ideas to the great ideas of the past. It takes us out of ourselves and away from our everyday life so we are able to view our lives from a distance and judge it more fairly. As the essay “History” points out when we view ancient sculpture or read ancient literature we experience humanity distilled to its essence. We come to see ourselves and our own lives in the great works of literature. “The advancing man discovers how deep a property he has in literature,--in all fable as well as in all history. He finds that the poet was no odd fellow who described strange and impossible situations, but that universal man wrote by his pen a confession true for one and true for all. His own secret biography he finds in lines wonderfully intelligible to him, dotted down before he was born. One after another he comes up in his private adventures with every fable of Aesop, of Homer, of Hafiz, of Ariosto, of Chaucer, of Scott, and verifies them with his own head and hands.” Literature teaches us what is eternal. It shows us what problems, concerns, and ideas of today were ones that writers and thinkers from all ages dealt with and what so-called problems are ephemeral and shouldn’t be part of my authentic concerns.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lars Reijnen

    I got interested in Emerson by reading and enjoying Thoreau; although their mutual influence is evident, their writing styles are not alike. Walden would have been ten pages long if Emerson had wrote it. Still, I really enjoyed Emerson too. The essays are best read together even though some are quite repetitive. Spiritual Laws and Intellect resonated most with me. History **** - I have no expectation that any man will read history aright who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whos I got interested in Emerson by reading and enjoying Thoreau; although their mutual influence is evident, their writing styles are not alike. Walden would have been ten pages long if Emerson had wrote it. Still, I really enjoyed Emerson too. The essays are best read together even though some are quite repetitive. Spiritual Laws and Intellect resonated most with me. History **** - I have no expectation that any man will read history aright who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose names have resounded far, has any deeper sense than what he is doing to-day Self-reliance *** - It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. Compensation *** - All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. They are punished by Fear. Spiritual Laws ***** - What your heart thinks great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right. Love *** - Thus we are put in training for a love which knows not sex, nor person, nor partiality, but which seeketh virtue and wisdom everywhere, to the end of increasing virtue and wisdom. Friendship **** - I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know.’ - A Friend therefore is a sort of paradox in nature. I who alone am, I who see nothing in nature whose existence I can affirm with equal evidence to my own, behold now the semblance of my being, in all its height, variety and curiosity, reiterated in a foreign form; so that a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. Prudence *** - Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society. Heroism **** - Life is a festival only to the wise. - The little man takes the great hoax so innocently, works in it so headlong and believing, is born red, and dies gray, arranging his toilet, attending on his own health, laying traps for sweet food and strong wine, setting his heart on a horse or a rifle, made happy with a little gossip or a little praise, that the great soul cannot choose but laugh at such earnest nonsense. The Over-Soul *** - We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. - The least activity of the intellectual powers redeems us in a degree from the influences of time. In sickness, in languor, give us a strain of poetry or a profound sentence, and we are refreshed. For the soul is true to itself, and the man in whom it is shed abroad cannot wander from the present, which is infinite, to a future which would be finite. Circles *** - The length of the discourse indicates the distance of thought betwixt the speaker and the hearer. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment. The great moments of history are the facilities of performance through the strength of ideas. Intellect ***** - As a ship aground is battered by the waves, so man, imprisoned in mortal life, lies open to the mercy of coming events. - What am I? What has my will done to make me that I am? Nothing. I have been floated into this thought, this hour, this connection of events, by might and mind sublime, and my ingenuity and wilfulness have not thwarted, have not aided to an appreciable degree. God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please, -- you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates. He in whom the love of repose predominates will accept the first creed, the first philosophy, the first political party he meets, -- most likely his father’s. He gets rest, commodity and reputations; but he shuts the door of truth. Art *** - Every object has its roots in central nature, and may of course be so exhibited to us as to represent the world. - Beauty will not come at the call of a legislature, nor will it repeat in England or America its history in Greece. It will come, as always, unannounced, and spring up between the feet of brace and earnest men.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    There are aspects of Emerson that don't do it for me. He believes in Nature, with a big capital N. He's sure he's found it, he's sure it's good, and he's sure that Nature is himself. Sometimes his belief in Nature makes him a thoroughgoing democrat. Everyone, after all, is Natural by definition. But at other times he is as élitist as any other nineteenth-century intellectual. Perhaps we could all be Natural if we tried, but most people are slaves of convention, and there is little hope they'll e There are aspects of Emerson that don't do it for me. He believes in Nature, with a big capital N. He's sure he's found it, he's sure it's good, and he's sure that Nature is himself. Sometimes his belief in Nature makes him a thoroughgoing democrat. Everyone, after all, is Natural by definition. But at other times he is as élitist as any other nineteenth-century intellectual. Perhaps we could all be Natural if we tried, but most people are slaves of convention, and there is little hope they'll ever be anything otherwise. I'm not so sure that Nature exists. Or that the self is Natural. If I say who I am, this is something I've learnt how to say using a particular language. What it means to be a person depends. Being child means something different in a country where 12 year-olds work down coal mines or fight in civil wars, to in a peaceful country with compulsory schooling and intricate child protection and negligence laws. Whatever is 'Natural' about childhood is also clearly capable of enormous change. But these objections are puny in the face of Emerson's famous rhetoric: The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. Emerson's universe is charged with meaning, that flashes out everywhere like light from shook foil. It's often said that "Western Culture" is empiricist or materialist or instrumentalist. Emerson blasts that abstraction too. Bolts and bars are not the best of our institutions, nor is shrewdness in trade a mark of wisdom. Men suffer all their life long, under the foolish superstition that they can be cheated. Some people object to Emerson's habit of making no arguments, adducing no evidence, addressing no objections, and shooting off in whatever direction his rhetoric takes him. I can't object to any of these things. Emerson's metaphors are striking. His prose is musical. And his essays are absolutely full of ideas.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Knecht

    Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. This voice of fable has in it somewhat divine. It came from thought above the will of the writer. Beware of too much good staying in your hand. It will fast corrupt and worm worms. Pay it away quickly in some sort. For the real price of labor is knowledge and virtue, whereof wealth and credit are signs. These signs, like paper money, may be counterfeited or stolen, but that which they represent, namely, knowledge and virtue, cannot be counterfei Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. This voice of fable has in it somewhat divine. It came from thought above the will of the writer. Beware of too much good staying in your hand. It will fast corrupt and worm worms. Pay it away quickly in some sort. For the real price of labor is knowledge and virtue, whereof wealth and credit are signs. These signs, like paper money, may be counterfeited or stolen, but that which they represent, namely, knowledge and virtue, cannot be counterfeited or stolen.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Haoyan Do

    I have a bit problem getting into the book since the style and the phrases used are a little archaic. However after a while, I could feel some rhythm to the language. Still, I am not accustomed to it. I am thinking of coming back to revisit the book later. Sometimes, after several passages, the language would somehow echo in my brain, like what I did with "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Twelfth Night". I have a bit problem getting into the book since the style and the phrases used are a little archaic. However after a while, I could feel some rhythm to the language. Still, I am not accustomed to it. I am thinking of coming back to revisit the book later. Sometimes, after several passages, the language would somehow echo in my brain, like what I did with "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Twelfth Night".

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heli

    It's exciting to read how educated people wrote 200 y ago, how they thought. It's surprising very little has changed. Wisdom remains the same. I envy his ability to say cruel and rude things about stupid people in such a manner that you barely undestand something judgmental was told of someone. It's brilliant. It's exciting to read how educated people wrote 200 y ago, how they thought. It's surprising very little has changed. Wisdom remains the same. I envy his ability to say cruel and rude things about stupid people in such a manner that you barely undestand something judgmental was told of someone. It's brilliant.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Iami Menotu

    Self Reliance is a motivational essay. All others are Complicated conventional wisdom

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Disappointed with this one. Just ramblings of a humanist. Yawn.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Doddie

    Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; an Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark. this kind of essay will keep you awake

  15. 4 out of 5

    Demetrius Rogers

    Although I don't buy into Emerson's transcendental philosophy I will say he has some of the most salient quotes about being oneself. There are snatches of his "Self Reliance" essay that I will probably put to memory. And, wow, the way Emerson could turn a phrase, whewwwww, this man could write! But, I soon lost steam going through his writings (hence, the first series and not the second). They all began to sound much the same and had a rambling quality to them. If you've read one of his essays I Although I don't buy into Emerson's transcendental philosophy I will say he has some of the most salient quotes about being oneself. There are snatches of his "Self Reliance" essay that I will probably put to memory. And, wow, the way Emerson could turn a phrase, whewwwww, this man could write! But, I soon lost steam going through his writings (hence, the first series and not the second). They all began to sound much the same and had a rambling quality to them. If you've read one of his essays I would venture to say you've read them all. "Self Reliance" is the one to see and then next his essay on "Friendship."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gürsu Altunkaya

    "The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." In this essay, Emerson praises solitude, and argues that intuition is a better guide than books or people. He theorizes that intuition originates from a single source of truth, from which everything around us originates. Thus, when we tap into that source by listening to our intuition, we become united with everything. He makes an interesting quote in this regard: "Thy lot or portion of l "The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." In this essay, Emerson praises solitude, and argues that intuition is a better guide than books or people. He theorizes that intuition originates from a single source of truth, from which everything around us originates. Thus, when we tap into that source by listening to our intuition, we become united with everything. He makes an interesting quote in this regard: "Thy lot or portion of life," said the Caliph Ali, "is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    The actual book I am reading was published in 1934 and not coming up on GoodReads' search engine...however, I am slogging through this stuff...the first essay is titled "History" and is pretty intellectual and abstract. "Self-Reliance" is a little less obtuse, but it still is a snail's pace to creep through the text and absorb in context what reads al lot like free-association ramblings...nuggets of gold hidden in and about, but still rough going to get to the kernals of goodness...ugh. The actual book I am reading was published in 1934 and not coming up on GoodReads' search engine...however, I am slogging through this stuff...the first essay is titled "History" and is pretty intellectual and abstract. "Self-Reliance" is a little less obtuse, but it still is a snail's pace to creep through the text and absorb in context what reads al lot like free-association ramblings...nuggets of gold hidden in and about, but still rough going to get to the kernals of goodness...ugh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Even

    Drivel. If you are into incoherent and contradictory stream of conciousness navel gazing you might be in luck. If you are looking for a quote mine for postcards at your patchouli and magic crystal store, by all means check this out. If you are looking for a well developed and articulated philosophical text, look elsewhere.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scot

    This set contains one of Emerson's most famous essays, "Self-Reliance," which is honestly all I have read thus far. It is a not so gentle reminder that we have everything that we need within, and f*c# everything else. Brilliant... highly recommended for anyone that needs to remember. This set contains one of Emerson's most famous essays, "Self-Reliance," which is honestly all I have read thus far. It is a not so gentle reminder that we have everything that we need within, and f*c# everything else. Brilliant... highly recommended for anyone that needs to remember.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    “Self-Reliance” It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. “Self-Reliance” It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mina

    After the first two, which were lyrical, elegant and beautiful, I found the idealism too hard to swallow for nonfiction.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    A superb collection of essays on many topics. Includes "Self-Reliance", and other well-known essays by the Transcendentalist and thinker. Great reading. A superb collection of essays on many topics. Includes "Self-Reliance", and other well-known essays by the Transcendentalist and thinker. Great reading.

  23. 4 out of 5

    torque

    A bit beyond me. Some of the subjects I agree with, others I don't and some I just don't understand. A bit beyond me. Some of the subjects I agree with, others I don't and some I just don't understand.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carol Spears

    Emerson's prose has a really poetry feel to it making it a great book to listen to. I "read" the last essay (Art) though for the same reason. Emerson's prose has a really poetry feel to it making it a great book to listen to. I "read" the last essay (Art) though for the same reason.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brent Jefferson

    Beautiful exquisite plain truths on how to live. A manual for living to stand beside Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. Beautiful exquisite plain truths on how to live. A manual for living to stand beside Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caron

    I love Emerson, and this book contains some of the great early essays!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Walker

  28. 5 out of 5

    martin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anwen Garston

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amber sandell

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