The Annotated Emerson

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $16.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 51%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (10) from $16.99   
  • New (6) from $23.05   
  • Used (4) from $16.99   

Overview

A brilliant essayist and a master of the aphorism (“Our moods do not believe in each other”; “Money often costs too much”), Emerson has inspired countless writers. He challenged Americans to shut their ears against Europe’s “courtly muses” and to forge a new, distinctly American cultural identity. But he remains one of America’s least understood writers. And, by his own admission, he spawned neither school nor follower (he valued independent thought too much). Now, in this annotated selection of Emerson’s writings, David Mikics instructs the reader in a larger appreciation of Emerson’s essential works and the remarkable thinker who produced them.

Full of color illustrations and rich in archival photographs, this volume offers much for the specialist and general reader. In his running commentaries on Emerson’s essays, addresses, and poems, Mikics illuminates contexts, allusions, and language likely to cause difficulty to modern readers. He quotes extensively from Emerson’s Journal to shed light on particular passages or lines and examines Emerson the essayist, poet, itinerant lecturer, and political activist. Finally, in his Foreword, Phillip Lopate makes the case for Emerson as a spectacular truth teller—a model of intellectual labor and anti-dogmatic sanity.

Anyone who values Emerson will want to own this edition. Those wishing to discover, or to reacquaint themselves with, Emerson’s writings but who have not known where or how to begin will not find a better starting place or more reliable guide than The Annotated Emerson.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The #1 essayist and pure prose stylist in U.S. literature is on grand display in this lavish edition of essays, poems, and passages from Emerson’s voluminous journals. The neophyte entering the Emersonian universe, as opposed to the scholar, is best served by Mikics’s careful annotations and cogent commentary surrounding these selections, though even the most knowledgeable scholar would benefit. With so many collections available over the years, the selection process is not easy. Although not the greatest of poets, Emerson can certainly lay claim to greatness as an engaged philosopher, as well as in his influence in the golden age of American writing. Mikics, University of Houston English professor, compares Emerson to Shakespeare in the way he pervades the culture. In fact, one of the most insightful essays is on “Shakspeare” (as Emerson insists on spelling the Bard’s name). Of keen interest are Emerson’s writings against slavery; his condemnation of Martin Van Buren regarding the Cherokee nation’s Trail of Tears; his sentiments on Margaret Fuller, whom, along with Thoreau, he held in the highest esteem. Also included are such touchstones as the Divinity School Address, “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “The Poet.” 92 color illus. (Feb.)
Cleveland Plain Dealer

In his writing, Emerson favored fire imagery, and his own fiery intellect brightens every page of The Annotated Emerson, a wonderful new collection, meticulously annotated by David Mikics...In the lush pages of The Annotated Emerson readers will find that fire still warm, able to illuminate and sear.
— Daniel Dyer

Barnes & Noble Review

What a pleasure to have, in The Annotated Emerson, a lovely and helpful version of many of Emerson's bests, gathered and annotated by David Mikics and introduced by Phillip Lopate. This is in no way Emerson lite. These are not shortcuts but rather a welcome frame for Emerson's particular kind of difficulty. The book's introductions curate the voluminous career, and the wide margins of the pages, dappled with thoughtful notes, give the meditations space to unfurl. This is a book that gives us each hope to approach the "new yet unapproachable" Emerson. Any lay reader will find an open door here. Those who already love Emerson and know him well may find a few cherished things missing, but they may also find a few things they didn't know they wanted to find.
— Tess Gallagher

Boston Globe

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote essays about Shakespeare, John Brown, Stonehenge, Montaigne, best friend Henry David Thoreau, circles, nature, and self-reliance. One of his most famous lines—"the shot heard round the world" from his poem "Concord Hymn"—is still used to describe singular events in sports and history. The Annotated Emerson, edited by David Mikics, an English professor at the University of Houston, explains language and allusions that may be foreign to today's readers. By doing this, Mikics makes a great American essayist, whom Phillip Lopate in his foreword calls a "hero of intellectual labor," readily accessible to a new generation.
— Jan Gardner

West Australian

Copiously annotated, richly illustrated and handsomely bound, a volume all lovers not just of literature but of freedom will want on their shelves…[Emerson's] astute observations and generous vision of the world within and without still have much to teach.
— William Yeoman

Choice

Mikics has put together a handsome edition of Emerson's most popular and enduring work. First-time readers of Emerson will find the collection useful because the annotations reference the common occurrences of Emerson's attention and, along with the illustrations, place Emerson's work in the context of the 19th century. More-experienced readers of Emerson will value the many annotations that reference his journals, letters, and other essays not gathered here.
— R. T. Prus

Philip F. Gura
Mikics's annotations are gracious, helpful, and genuinely illuminating. This is a 'reader's edition' in the truest sense.
Paul Kane
Impressive in its thoroughness… the author's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious.
Harold Bloom
David Mikics's The Annotated Emerson is the best possible introduction to Emerson's prose and poetry.
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Daniel Dyer
In his writing, Emerson favored fire imagery, and his own fiery intellect brightens every page of The Annotated Emerson, a wonderful new collection, meticulously annotated by David Mikics...In the lush pages of The Annotated Emerson readers will find that fire still warm, able to illuminate and sear.
Barnes & Noble Review - Tess Gallagher
What a pleasure to have, in The Annotated Emerson, a lovely and helpful version of many of Emerson's bests, gathered and annotated by David Mikics and introduced by Phillip Lopate. This is in no way Emerson lite. These are not shortcuts but rather a welcome frame for Emerson's particular kind of difficulty. The book's introductions curate the voluminous career, and the wide margins of the pages, dappled with thoughtful notes, give the meditations space to unfurl. This is a book that gives us each hope to approach the "new yet unapproachable" Emerson. Any lay reader will find an open door here. Those who already love Emerson and know him well may find a few cherished things missing, but they may also find a few things they didn't know they wanted to find.
Boston Globe - Jan Gardner
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote essays about Shakespeare, John Brown, Stonehenge, Montaigne, best friend Henry David Thoreau, circles, nature, and self-reliance. One of his most famous lines--"the shot heard round the world" from his poem "Concord Hymn"--is still used to describe singular events in sports and history. The Annotated Emerson, edited by David Mikics, an English professor at the University of Houston, explains language and allusions that may be foreign to today's readers. By doing this, Mikics makes a great American essayist, whom Phillip Lopate in his foreword calls a "hero of intellectual labor," readily accessible to a new generation.
West Australian - William Yeoman
Copiously annotated, richly illustrated and handsomely bound, a volume all lovers not just of literature but of freedom will want on their shelves…[Emerson's] astute observations and generous vision of the world within and without still have much to teach.
Choice - R. T. Prus
Mikics has put together a handsome edition of Emerson's most popular and enduring work. First-time readers of Emerson will find the collection useful because the annotations reference the common occurrences of Emerson's attention and, along with the illustrations, place Emerson's work in the context of the 19th century. More-experienced readers of Emerson will value the many annotations that reference his journals, letters, and other essays not gathered here.
Library Journal
As with other recent annotated editions from Harvard (such as of Pride and Prejudice) this is an oversized illustrated volume of writings from the canon, with instructive notes, establishing context and defining terms, placed within the wide margins next to the text itself. Editor Mikics has selected the best known of Emerson's works but also includes excerpts from his journals, selections from lesser-read books, and a number of his poems. The volume is prefaced by a thoughtful foreword by Philip Lopate and a very useful editor's introduction. Unfortunately, there is no index by which readers may make connections from piece to piece or note to note. The selections broaden our sense of Emerson. For example, in an excerpt from his English Traits, in which he describes meeting an aged William Wordsworth, we can see both Emerson's quiet humor as well as his keen ability to derive a general truth from a specific personal observation. VERDICT General readers under an obligation to read Emerson—never ideal reading circumstances—may yet be daunted, but they shouldn't be with these notes and illustrations. All in all, this handsome edition will be useful both to newcomers and to Emerson vets.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
The Barnes & Noble Review

Yes, yes — Ralph Waldo Emerson was a brilliant and seminal American thinker, and his writing is studded with fabulous sentences, gemlike insights, and a remarkable record of mutual dialogue between self and world. But let's be honest: for the uninitiated, it's a dialogue that can prove frustratingly difficult to enter. It's not that Emerson is opaque, exactly, but that he's faceted. He's digressive, sidewinding. ("Man is analogist," he claims, and then proceeds to demonstrate his humanity by analogizing for pages.)

One could go so far as to say that Emerson is just plain dense. Even though some of his phrases leap off the page and lodge in the mind, the jewels in his prose can be hard to string together. It's not just that, in his role as the mid-nineteenth century's foremost American public intellectual, the man was ambitious. It's more that his writing is all- encompassing, enfolding the self and its contradiction, looking for the reflection of the reflection, proposing the corollary and also its opposite. Emerson elevates the humble, finds lofty sentiment in compost, celebrates labor, all in the service of furthering thought, which, he hopes, will lead us full circle back to action, to vision, and then to reflection once more.

Sometimes, despite himself, his meditations are unintentionally comic, as in the essay "Nature," where he writes, "The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them." Moments like this are likely to cause the reader to do a double-take — is Emerson discussing a secret alliance with affirming turnips? Emerson's point, of course, is far from arcane: he's hoping to express the world's mutuality, its correspondence, its fragmented wholeness. For him, illumination points to illumination points to illumination — and each flare is a reflection of some unseen but present centrality. Life becomes a quest to see amid facets, to "magnify the small, micrify the great," and to record reciprocities between inner and outer worlds. These are all tall orders, to be sure, but Emerson binds small and large, inner and outer, with remarkable grace. He's agile as well as original. He has the genius not merely to recite the commonplace that thought should lead to action, but to affirm that action should lead back to thought.

Still, if there are rewards aplenty in Emerson, there is still the problem of the slow going, the circumlocution. The revelation resists sound bite. Emerson rewards us, but he only rewards our full attention. And, as we know, full attention can be hard to come by.

What a pleasure, then, to have, in The Annotated Emerson, a lovely and helpful version of many of Emerson's bests, gathered and annotated by David Mikics and introduced by Phillip Lopate. This is in no way Emerson lite. These are not shortcuts but rather a welcome frame for Emerson's particular kind of difficulty. The book's introductions curate the voluminous career, and the wide margins of the pages, dappled with thoughtful notes, give the meditations space to unfurl. This is a book that gives us each hope to approach the "new yet unapproachable" Emerson.

Any lay reader will find an open door here. Those who already love Emerson and know him well may find a few cherished things missing, but they may also find a few things they didn't know they wanted to find. Both introductions by Lopate and Mikics refer already devoted Emerson fans back to the looser, more exploratory journals, but they also do us the service of quoting liberally from the journals in this book itself, right in the margins of the essays. Indeed, one of the pleasures of this book is to see, as Mikics puts it, how much "traffic" there is between the journals and the final essays. We see the sentence in draft, the illumination plucked out of the scribble. There's also a chance to see that we're not alone in sometimes tossing our hands up at the famed American Scholar. In "Nature," Emerson — not merely content to converse with carrots — refers to himself as " a transparent eyeball." This was too much for Emerson's colleague Christopher Cranch, who took the occasion to sketch an enormous open eye walking on stilty pant-legs through the fields.

"Emerson is our Shakespeare," Mikics claims, and while some may argue for Whitman, or for Thoreau, or for Dickinson, or for all four, there's no question that Emerson is a founding father of our national literature, a bedrock of our oratory, an early capturer of our spirit. He does rise in our minds as one of the greatest American intellectuals, one of the early few to grasp and form and articulate the grain of our thought. Not, of course, that he was a narrow patriot — rather he was a quarreler, a re-maker, a rabble-rouser: "Please don't read American," he wrote, "thought is of no country."

Tess Taylor is the author of The Misremembered World, a collection of poems. Her nonfiction and poetry have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times, andThe New Yorker.

Reviewer: Tess Taylor

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674049239
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/7/2012
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 478,528
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Mikics is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of English at the University of Houston.

Phillip Lopate is a professor at Columbia University, where he directs the graduate nonfiction program.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome

    Any true reader of emerson must have this on their shelves. No one has annotated this much before and it really informs the reader on the wide variety of influences he had. Ive waited for soemthing new on emerson and wallah .. Finally something

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)