Concord Quartet: Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and the Friendship That Freed the American Mind

Overview

We will walk on our own feet;

we will work with our own hands;

we will speak our own minds.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar," 1837

From the start of transcendentalism and America's intellectual renaissance in the 1830s, to the Civil War and beyond, the story of four extraordinary friends whose lives shaped a nation

"Beginning in the 1830s, coincidences that seem ...

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The Concord Quartet: Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and the Friendship That Freed the American Mind

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Overview

We will walk on our own feet;

we will work with our own hands;

we will speak our own minds.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar," 1837

From the start of transcendentalism and America's intellectual renaissance in the 1830s, to the Civil War and beyond, the story of four extraordinary friends whose lives shaped a nation

"Beginning in the 1830s, coincidences that seem almost miraculous in retrospect brought together in Concord as friends and neighbors four men of very different temperaments and talents who shared the same conviction that the soul had 'inherent power to grasp the truth' and that the truth would make men free of old constraints on thought and behavior. In addition to Emerson, a philosopher, there was Amos Bronson Alcott, an educator; Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist and rebel; and Nathaniel Hawthorne, a novelist. This book is the story of that unique and influential friendship in action, of the lives the friends led, and their work that resulted in an enduring change in their nation's direction."
—From the Prologue

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* Schreiner takes a close look at the intellectual life of Concord, Mass. from 1834 to 1888, a period during which four of Ameroca's leading intellectuals called it home. Three of them-Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne-were prolific and successful writers in their own time and still rank among the most important American writers. The fourth, Amos Bronson Alcott, is best known today as the father of Louisa May, but during his lifetime he was a respected social and educational reformer, political activist, and public speaker. Schreiner works hard to bring these personalities and their dynamic relations to life, using rich detail, both in terms of Concord life and the personal and professional lives of these men, as well as in the intersection between the Concord scene and events on the national stage (like Lincoln's presidency and the debate over slavery). Although Schreiner's work is rife with dramatic episodes and compelling stories, the overall tone is academic rather than popular, and includes many excerpts from the quartet's written work with accompanying analysis. Readers unfamiliar with Hawthorne or the Transcendentalists may have difficulty taking to the book initially, but sticking with it should make any reader eager to pick up Walden next. Readers interested in American literature or American history will gain much from Schreiner's work. (Publishers Weekly, August 7, 2006)
Library Journal
Although Transcendentalism was the most important literary movement of 19th century American literature, it can seem remote to modern readers. In an ambitious step forward from his family biography, The Passionate Beechers, veteran journalist Schreiner attempts a joint biography of the major figures of Transcendentalism, tracing through letters and writings the personal and literary growth of Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. With his sturdy prose and judicious quotes, Schreiner covers the joys and travails of these struggling New England writers from youth through marriage, the birth and death of children, and the final parting. Although much has to be excluded for such a compact study, Schreiner produces a coherent narrative aimed at the general reader, with a good general bibliography and index. With numerous illustrations-who knew Nathaniel Hawthorne was so handsome?-which help to bolster the narrative. For general collections.-Shelley Cox, emerita, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471646631
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/4/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 971,999
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel A. Schreiner Jr., a veteran journalist and former senior editor at Reader's Digest, is the author of both novels and nonfiction, including The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln, Henry Clay Frick: The Gospel of Greed, and The Passionate Beechers: A Family Saga of Sanctity and Scandal That Changed America. He lives in Darien, Connecticut.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.

Prologue.

1. A Homecoming.

2. A Meeting of Minds.

3. A New Voice.

4. A Man Who “Looks Answers”.

5. “A Beacon Fire of Truth”.

6. A Parting of the Ways.

7. A President’s Man.

8. A Transcendental Martyr.

9. A Time for Dying.

10. A Long Good-bye.

Bibliography.

Index.

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