Emerson Centenary Essays

Southern Illinois University Press, 1982 - 218

One hundred years after Ralph Waldo Emersons death in Concord is an appropriate time to assess his life and writings. The eleven essays here presented, along with new documentary and manuscript material soon to be made available, will provide a fresh impetus for subsequent studies of Emerson as man and writer.

The first four essays trace Emersons development through the publication of his first series of Essays in 1841: Evelyn Barish describes Emersons early illness and how his decision to deal with sickness influenced his philosophy; Wesley T. Mott shows the importance of the sermon Christ Crucified to Emersons intellectual development; Jerome Loving shows how Emersons change in vocation and his change in philosophical outlook went hand in hand; Glen M. Johnson demonstrates how Emerson developed a sense of himself as a professional author.

The next three essays cover the period from 1841 to 1844 and include David Robinsons examination of The Method of Nature as marking a crucial point in Emersons life. Richard Lee Francis and David W. Hill show Emerson seeking his persona in Essays: Second Series and evaluate the significance of his eventual authorial voice.

The subsequent essays range widely: Sanford E. Marovitz surveys and evaluates Emersons long-time interest in Shakespeare; Robert E. Burkholder discusses the response of the press to English Traits; Ronald A. Sudol shows that Emersons reaction to technology is embodied in the poem, The Adirondacs; and Merton M. Sealts, Jr., concludes with a reminder that Emerson was, in precept and in life, a teacher.



Emersons Crisis of Health
Christology Identity and Emersons
Emersons Foreground




Joel Myerson is Professor of English at the University of South Carolina. His publications include a number of bibliographies in American literature and Studies in the American Renaissance.