Ralph Waldo Emerson biography New England Transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in May as the fourth child in a family of eight and brought up in a family atmosphere supportive of hard work, moral discipline, and wholesome self-sacrifice. Seven of his ancestors were ministers, and his father, William Emerson, was minister of the First Church Unitarian of Boston.
Unlike his contemporary and friend Thoreau, Emerson was acknowledged during his own time as a major thinker and author and as the central proponent of Transcendental philosophy.
Nevertheless, the vast body of literature about Emerson attests to his influence. Moreover, Emerson is considered in every history of American literature and overall treatment of New England Transcendentalism.
When Nature appeared infor example, Orestes Brownson Unitarian preacher, editor, reviewer, and writer for The Christian Examiner and the Boston Quarterly Review wrote about it in the September 10,issue of the Boston Reformer.
He opened the piece, "This is a singular book. It is the creation of a mind that lives and moves in the Beautiful, and has the power of assimilating to itself whatever it sees, hears, or touches.
We cannot analyze it; whoever would form an idea of it must read it. The highest praise that can be accorded to it, is, that it is a suggestive book, for no one can read it without tasking his faculties to the utmost, and relapsing into fits of severe meditation.
But the effect of perusal is often painful, the thoughts excited are frequently bewildering, and the results to which they lead us, uncertain and obscure. The reader feels as in a disturbed dream, in which shows of surpassing beauty are around him, and he is conversant with disembodied spirits, yet all the time he is harassed by an uneasy sort of consciousness, that the whole combination of phenomena is fantastic and unreal.
Bowen charged Emerson with offending good taste, and pointed out that there was nothing original in his ideas. He characterized Transcendentalism as "a revival of the Old Platonic school," and criticized the "self-complacency" of Romantic writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his "English adherents," who were major influences on Emerson and the Transcendentalists.
Samuel Osgood, writing for The Western Messenger Januarypointed to the peculiar power of Nature to stir the philosophically unsympathetic as well as devotees of Transcendentalism: The work is a remarkable one, and it certainly will be called remarkable by those, who consider it "mere moonshine" as well as those, who look upon it with reverence, as the effusion of a prophet-like mind.
Whatever may be thought of the merits, or of the extravagances of the book, no one, we are sure, can read it, without feeling himself more wide awake to the beauty and meaning of Creation. And Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, herself in many ways the consummate Transcendentalist, in a favorable review of Nature for The United States Magazine and Democratic Review Februaryurged Emerson to write another book to clarify the philosophy that the reader could only understand "by glimpses" in Nature, and to expand upon certain of his religious ideas.
Commentators responded to his rhetorical prose and to his philosophical idealism with a sense of exhilaration, which was offset by reservations about the soundness of his philosophy and of his religious views, the derivation of his ideas from German and English writers, his logic, his mysticism, his perceived vagueness, and sometimes the aesthetics of his poetry and his prose.
Search for eloquence in his books and you will perchance miss it, but meanwhile you will find that it has kindled your thoughts.
It is in the hopeful, serene, beautiful temper. In fact, British commentators were at first more generally positive than American reviewers in their assessments. A piece by British poet and literary and political writer Richard Monckton Milnes in the London and Westminster Review March was particularly influential.
His reactions were mixed, but the fact that so prominent a critic had taken the time to prepare a lengthy review had an effect on the overall British response to Emerson.Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, – April 27, Carlyle in particular was a strong influence on him; Emerson would later serve as an unofficial literary agent in the United States for Carlyle, Donations were collected by friends to help the Emersons rebuild.
In his lifetime, Ralph Waldo Emerson became the most widely known man of letters in America, establishing himself as a prolific poet, essayist, popular lecturer, and an advocate of social reforms who was nevertheless suspicious of reform and reformers.
Emerson achieved some reputation with his verse. To find in this extraordinary book, Representative Men, an Emerson expounding the primacy of personality and heroic genius in six major figures of Western European civilization - Plato, Swedenborg, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Napoleon, Goethe - seems nothing short of anomalous.
Ralph Waldo Emerson influenced generations of writers across the Americas. It is impossible to imagine the literature of the New World without him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson's Influence: An American Literary Tradition. Ecstasy of Influence Ralph Waldo Emerson’s American poetry. When the nine-year-old Louisa May Alcott came to the Emersons’ door to . "Nature" is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and published by James Munroe and Company in In the essay Emerson put forth the foundation of transcendentalism, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of .