Nature

Nature

3.9 15
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
     
 

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This version of Nature is an historic 1836 first edition.

Nature is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Transcendentalism suggests that divinity diffuses all nature, and speaks…  See more details below

Overview

This version of Nature is an historic 1836 first edition.

Nature is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Transcendentalism suggests that divinity diffuses all nature, and speaks to the notion that we can only understand reality through studying nature. A visit to the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris inspired a set of lectures delivered in Boston and subsequently the ideas leading to the publication of Nature.

Scholars identify Emerson as one of the first writers to develop a literary style and vision that is uniquely American. "Nature" is the first significant work to establish this new way of looking at The Americas and its raw, natural environment. In England, all natural things are a reference to layers of historical events, a reflection of human beings. However, in America, all of nature was relatively new to Western Civilization with no man-made meaning. With this clean slate, as it were, Emerson was enabled to see nature through new eyes, or as he phrased it, the "transparent eyeball" and rebuild nature's role in the world.

Within this essay, Emerson divides nature into four usages; Commodity, Beauty, Language and Discipline. These distinctions define the ways by which humans use nature for their basic needs, their desire for delight, their communication with one another and their understanding of the world.

Henry David Thoreau had read "Nature" as a senior at Harvard College and took it to heart. It eventually became an essential influence for Thoreau's later writings, including his seminal Walden. In fact, Thoreau wrote Walden while living in a self-built cabin on land that Emerson owned. Their longstanding acquaintance offered Thoreau great encouragement in pursuing his desire to be a published author.

Emerson followed the success of this essay with a famous speech entitled "The American Scholar". These two works laid the foundation for both his new philosophy and his literary career.

Many would call Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing “metaphorical”, and that is just what this essay is. “Nature”, is centered on the theme of, nonetheless, nature, in which Emerson lays out a problem that he attempts to solve throughout the essay; a problem in which he believes man doesn’t fully accept nature’s beauty and all that it has to offer. According to Emerson, people are distracted by the world around them; nature gives back to man, but man doesn’t reciprocate the favor.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015041675
Publisher:
Balefire Publishing
Publication date:
08/29/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
92
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. Following this ground-breaking work, he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence".

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for humankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than naturalistic; "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul."

Emerson's work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that have followed him. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man." Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of fellow Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau.

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Nature 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful work by Emerson. I turn to it again and again.
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