American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions

American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions

by Arthur Versluis


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The first major study since the 1930s of the relationship between American Transcendentalism and Asian religions, and the first comprehensive work to include post-Civil War Transcendentalists like Samuel Johnson, this book is encyclopedic in scope. Beginning with the inception of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe, Versluis covers the entire history of American Transcendentalism into the twentieth century, and the profound influence of Orientalism on the movement—including its analogues and influences in world religious dialogue. He examines what he calls "positive Orientalism," which recognizes the value and perennial truths in Asian religions and cultures, not only in the writings of major figures like Thoreau and Emerson, but also in contemporary popular magazines. Versluis's exploration of the impact of Transcendentalism on the twentieth-century study of comparative religions has ramifications for the study of religious history, comparative religion, literature, politics, history, and art history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195076585
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 09/16/1993
Series: Religion in America
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.22(d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Transcendentalism and the Orient
2. Predecessors: The First Meetings of East and West
The German Tradition and the East
The English Romantics and the Orient Fair
Joseph Priestley: Moses and the Hindoos
3. Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, and the Orient
Emerson's "Asia Mine"
Thoreau Sauntering Eastward
Alcott's Universal Bible
4. The Dissenters: Melville and Brownson
Melville as Gnostic
Orestes Brownson and Tradition
5. The Ambience: Orientalism in General-Interest American Magazines
The Popular Climate West and East
Concluding Remarks
6. Ambience and Embodiment of Transcendental Dreams
Converting the World
Images of America's Golden Age
Transcendental Dreams and Earthly Fiction
7. Transcendentalist Periodicals and the Orient
Literary Religion and Social Reform: The Western Messenger, The Dial, The Present, The Harbinger, and The Spirit of the Age
The Universal and the Particular: The Cincinnati Dial, The Radical, The Index, and the Journal of Speculative Philosophy
8. Patterns in Literary Religion: The Orient and the Second Cycle of Transcendentalism
Beginnings: Lydia Maria Child and The Progress of Religious Ideas
Unitarian Transcendentalism: James Freeman Clarke and Elizabeth Peabody
Universal Religion: John Weiss and Samuel Johnson
The Sympathetic Universalism of William Rounseville Alger
Octavius Brooks Frothingham's Religion of Humanity and Moncure Conway's Anthropocentrism
9. Conclusion
Drawing Conclusions in the Drawing Room
Artists and Asia
Popular Ramifications
The Twentieth Century

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