Ralph Wald Emerson stands as one of the great figures of nineteenth-century America. More than any other man he personifies the brilliant late flowering of the New England tradition. This Signet Classic edition of selections from Emerson's Journals, Letters, Essays, and Poetry offers a broad view of the author's finest work. Featured here is a considerable amount of new material from the Journals, including an entry discovered in 1964 in the Library of Congress which reveals Emerson's enlightened attitude about the Negro question. The writings range from homely descriptions of daily life to superbly polished meditations on human purpose and destiny, from sharply etched biographical studies to soaring, lyric, philosophical flights. Shaped by a passionate belief in individual freedom and deep humility before the immensity of Nature, they reflect a life and a spirit whose independence and integrity speak out with resounding significance to the modern world. As the noted Emerson scholar and editor William H. Gilman writes: "Emerson took constant risks in following the bent of his thought wherever it might go... all the risks a man can take when he grimly determines to abandon repose and seek the truth. The example to the twentieth century is obvious. A man or woman today might not want to imitate Emerson, but if he did, at least he would know what it meant to be fully alive."