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