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

Overview

Ralph Waldo Emerson was not happy to be heading back to Concord, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1834. Although the autumn leaves were brilliant, he could think only of his situation. Having left a job, lost both his wife and brother, and no longer able to rent suitable quarters in Boston, he was returning to the family homestead to figure out what to do next.

That day, no one would have guessed that he was starting a journey that would lead him to an American Renaissance in ...

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

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Overview

Ralph Waldo Emerson was not happy to be heading back to Concord, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1834. Although the autumn leaves were brilliant, he could think only of his situation. Having left a job, lost both his wife and brother, and no longer able to rent suitable quarters in Boston, he was returning to the family homestead to figure out what to do next.

That day, no one would have guessed that he was starting a journey that would lead him to an American Renaissance in thought and philosophy as well as to a friendship that would span decades with three equally remarkable men and neighbors: Nathaniel Hawthorne, novelist; Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author; and Amos Bronson Alcott, educator. As engaging as a novel, The Concord Quartet brings these nineteenth-century cultural icons to life.

Deftly interweaving the everyday dramas of the four men's lives their marriages, children, friends, accomplishments, disappointments, illnesses, and deaths as well as a full account of their books and the development of the transcendentalist philosophies that united them, The Concord Quartet will fascinate readers with its modern resonance, as the men struggled with ideas that still perplex people today:

Is the Bible divinely inspired and literally true? "The highest revelation is that God is in every man," Ralph Waldo Emerson decided early on, stating the essence of transcendentalism in a sentence and boldly disputing the largely Calvinist beliefs of the day.

What is the nature of work? Nathaniel Hawthorne, weighing coal and salt for an income to support his writing, claimed that his work on the docks had turned him into a "business machine," unfit to mingle with the intelligentsia. Yet, the ability to do manual labor and, at the same time, live "in a region of high thought" was applauded by transcendentalists.

What's the proper way to educate children? Without whipping and "in the wise way which unfolds what lies in the child's nature, as a flower blooms," wrote Louisa May Alcott, describing her father Bronson Alcott's then-heretical teaching methods.

The neighbors also had their share of spats. Noted Emerson at one point, grousing about Thoreau: "What can you have in common with a man who does not know the difference between ice cream and cabbage and who has no experience of wine or ale?"

Engrossing, brimming with detail, and intellectually engaging, The Concord Quartet gives readers a thorough look at America's "intellectual declaration of independence," and it will keep you turning pages as in the best historical novels. You'll be reluctant to leave the vibrant and wholly American world this book brings to life.

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Editorial Reviews

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: 9781118040096
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 12/22/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 546,296
  • File size: 2 MB

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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