Read The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson (The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written) by Ralph Waldo Emerson Free Online
Book Title: The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson (The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written)|
The author of the book: Ralph Waldo Emerson
ISBN: No data
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Edition: Easton Press
Date of issue: 1979
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 327 KB
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I would like to preface this review by saying that the body of the review has a lot "spiritual" talk and some people may find my words trite and very syrupy about my inner thoughts on life. So if you are feeling cynical right now, I think you will have a good chuckle. And, if you are like me, someone who always is searching, then maybe you will relate.
Growing up I've always been hopscotching from book to book looking for the tome that could lead my life. When I was 10 or 11 I began pulling the books off my father's bookshelves. And from these books I began pulling finding names like Plato, Kant. Tons of Buddhist and Hindi spiritual epics lined out living room shelves. And my silly-putty brain began copying single phrases that later became the sign-posts that would direct my decision making.
At first, I discovered a book of eastern philosophy. I think it was the Hymns of the Rig Veda. I can't recall any part of this except for the mantra, "The Usefulness in Unusefulness." The metaphor for this idea was a tree that bears sweetfruit and strong wood is destroyed and used, while the tree that bears poison leaves and brittle wood was allowed to live in undisturbed peace. This wasn't the smartest idea to cherish as a pre-teen.
In high-school I was advised to read the book "Man's Search for Meaning" by my AP Psych teacher. This book was a riveting account of one man survival during the holocaust. His survival lead to his practice of his own school of therapy called logotherapy. This new school of psychology is summed up in one quote:
Man can survive any how as long as he is given a why to live for.
I was blown away by the complex, human, and tender power of such a simple sentence. I re-read the book every year for three years and returned to precious passages in my greatest grayest moments.
However, I have found a new spiritual muse in my mid-twenties.
Ralph Emerson has become the lighthouse for my soul. Emerson writes with Whitman's American aesthetic applied to eastern spiritual practice in accepting the beauty of the single day and the single life. Each essay broaches very general topics like Self-Reliance, Art, Politics, etc. But, the body of these essays jump off the pages and empowers me like I was at my own personal tent revival.
It wasn't a born again moment or anything that heavy, but the reading allowed fogged windows to clear and permitted my perception to change. I read most of the essays in the middle of the night and at 3am I felt intimate and open to the world all at once.
Ralph inspired in one essay and redefined by the next. I will cling to these essays for a long time I feel, or, at least the feeling of reading and completing these essays will stay and, with hope, the inspiration I grafted onto my soul will blend into myself for a long long time.
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Read information about the authorin 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted in 2,000 Years of Freethought edited by Jim Haught.) By 1832, after the untimely death of his first wife, Emerson cut loose from Unitarianism. During a year-long trip to Europe, Emerson became acquainted with such intelligentsia as British writer Thomas Carlyle, and poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. He returned to the United States in 1833, to a life as poet, writer and lecturer. Emerson inspired Transcendentalism, although never adopting the label himself. He rejected traditional ideas of deity in favor of an "Over-Soul" or "Form of Good," ideas which were considered highly heretical. His books include Nature (1836), The American Scholar (1837), Divinity School Address (1838), Essays, 2 vol. (1841, 1844), Nature, Addresses and Lectures (1849), and three volumes of poetry. Margaret Fuller became one of his "disciples," as did Henry David Thoreau.
The best of Emerson's rather wordy writing survives as epigrams, such as the famous: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Other one- (and two-) liners include: "As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect" (Self-Reliance, 1841). "The most tedious of all discourses are on the subject of the Supreme Being" (Journal, 1836). "The word miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches, gives a false impression; it is a monster. It is not one with the blowing clover and the falling rain" (Address to Harvard Divinity College, July 15, 1838). He demolished the right wing hypocrites of his era in his essay "Worship": ". . . the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons" (Conduct of Life, 1860). "I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship" (Self-Reliance). "The first and last lesson of religion is, 'The things that are seen are temporal; the things that are not seen are eternal.' It puts an affront upon nature" (English Traits , 1856). "The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant." (Civilization, 1862). He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity. D. 1882.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was his son and Waldo Emerson Forbes, his grandson.