As an adolescent America searched for its unique identity among the nations of the world, a number of thinkers and writers emerged eager to share their vision of what the American character could be. Among their leaders was Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose essays, lectures, and poems defined the American transcendentalist movement, though he himself disliked the term.
Emerson advocates a rejection of fear-driven conformity, a total independence of thought and spirit, and a life lived in harmony with nature. He believes that Truth lies within each individual, for each is part of a greater whole, a universal over-soul” through which we transcend the merely mortal.
Emerson was extremely prolific throughout his life; his collected writings fill forty volumes. This edition contains his major works, including Nature, the essays Self-Reliance,” The American Scholar,” The Over-Soul,” Circles,” The Poet,” and Experience,”, and such important poems as The Rhodora,” Uriel,” The Humble-Bee,” Earth-Song,” Give All to Love,” and the well-loved Concord Hymn.”
Peter Norberg has been Assistant Professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia since 1997. A specialist in New England transcendentalism and the history of the antebellum period, he also has published on Herman Melville’s poetry. He currently is writing a history of Emerson’s career as a public lecturer.