Ralph Waldo Emerson; The Making of a Democratic Intellectual

Ralph Waldo Emerson; The Making of a Democratic Intellectual

by Peter S. Field
     
 

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In this original and fascinating book, Peter S. Field argues that Ralph Waldo Emerson is America's first democratic intellectual. Field contends that Emerson was a democrat in two senses: his writings are imbued with an optimistic, confident ethos, and more importantly, he acted the part of the democrat by bringing culture to all Americans. In Ralph Waldo

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Overview

In this original and fascinating book, Peter S. Field argues that Ralph Waldo Emerson is America's first democratic intellectual. Field contends that Emerson was a democrat in two senses: his writings are imbued with an optimistic, confident ethos, and more importantly, he acted the part of the democrat by bringing culture to all Americans. In Ralph Waldo Emerson, Field connects Emerson and his remarkable creativity to the key political issue of the day: the nature of democracy and the role of intellectuals within a democratic society.

Editorial Reviews

The New England Quarterly - Joel Myerson
Field's book is a welcome addition to the literature that examines Emerson as a product of his times and explores how, throughout his life, he attempted to situate himself as a spokesman for a particular issue or issues. . . . Field has produced an excellent, suggestive evaluation of the public Emerson—the one who continually refashioned himself as his ideas and venues changed—and a book that deserves to be placed among the best studies of Emerson's intellectual and professional development.
Phyllis Cole
Field stands atop the current reassessment of Ralph Waldo Emerson's public voice with his fresh sense of all the relevant texts and contexts, from origins in the Boston ministry through national politics of the Civil War era. This book makes an admirable case for nineteenth-century America's most influential thinker.
H-Shear - Susan L. Roberson
Field does a convincing job of showing the growth of this public thinker, and his volume certainly adds to our understanding of the man and his times.
Conrad Edick Wright
None of Ralph Waldo Emerson's accomplishments was more important than his reinvention of himself. Peter S. Field persuasively traces Emerson's transformation from Unitarian minister to public intellectual in this able biography of one of the 19th century's most enduring figures.
Reviews In American History - Philip F. Gura
As a brief for Emerson as a public intellectual, Field's book is valuable and has the virtue of offering readers a focused examination of the ways in which, from the years of his first ministry on, this seminal thinker understood that the age demanded a new kind of cultural critic.
John F. Wilson
Peter Field's new study of Emerson portrays him in very human and compelling terms, searching for his self, finding his voice and vocation, and becoming America's prototypical 'public intellectual.' Emerson springs to life in its pages, engaged with the challenges facing his age. A wonderful introduction to the Sage of Concord.
John L. Thomas
A sharply-etched portrait of America's first public intellectual and his search for a vocation.
New England Quarterly
Field's book is a welcome addition to the literature that examines Emerson as a product of his times and explores how, throughout his life, he attempted to situate himself as a spokesman for a particular issue or issues. . . . Field has produced an excellent, suggestive evaluation of the public Emerson—the one who continually refashioned himself as his ideas and venues changed—and a book that deserves to be placed among the best studies of Emerson's intellectual and professional development.
— Joel Myerson
H-Shear
Field does a convincing job of showing the growth of this public thinker, and his volume certainly adds to our understanding of the man and his times.
— Susan L. Roberson
Reviews In American History
As a brief for Emerson as a public intellectual, Field's book is valuable and has the virtue of offering readers a focused examination of the ways in which, from the years of his first ministry on, this seminal thinker understood that the age demanded a new kind of cultural critic.
— Philip F. Gura
The Weekly Standard
It is often said—and the claim is supported persuasively in Peter Field's fine study—that Emerson was America's first 'public intellectual.' But Field goes further than that, seeing in Emerson an especially prophetic exponent of the possibilities of democracy itself, a lone voice attributing American intellectuals' famous 'alienation from the crowd' not to the insufficiencies of the American people and the doleful effects of 'democratic leveling' but to the failures of the thinking class itself.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780847688425
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
01/20/2002
Series:
American Intellectual Culture Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.79(d)

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