American essayist, lecturer and poet. |
(May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882)
He 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 andmore than 1,500 public lectures across the United States. Was the second of five sons. He went to Harvard College at the age of 14 and graduated when he was 18. Married Ellen Louisa Tucker when she was 18, who was already sick with tuberculosis. Less than two years later, Ellen died at the age of 20. Three years later, he married Lydia Jackson and had 4 children.
Emerson wrote most of hisimportant essays as lectures first, then revised them for print. Emerson anonymously published his first essay, Nature, on September 9, 1836. Many scholars identify Emerson as one of the first writers (with others, notably Walt Whitman) to develop a literary style and vision that is uniquely American, rather than following in the footsteps of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and others who were stronglyinfluenced by their British cultural heritage. Emerson's religious views were often considered radical at the time. He believed that all things are connected to God and, therefore, all things are divine. His views, the basis of Transcendentalism, suggested that God does not have to reveal the truth but that the truth could be intuitively experienced directly from nature.
Starting in 1867, Emerson'shealth began declining; he wrote much less in his journals. Beginning as early as the summer of 1871 or in the spring of 1872, Emerson started having memory problems and suffered from aphasia. By the end of the decade, he forgot his own name at times and, when anyone asked how he felt, he responded, "Quite well; I have lost my mental faculties, but am perfectly well". Emerson's Concord homecaught fire on July 24, 1872; Emerson called for help from neighbors and, giving up on putting out the flames, all attempted to save as many objects as posible. Donations were collected by friends to help the Emersons rebuild. While the house was being rebuilt, Emerson took a trip to England along with his daughter Ellen. The problems with his memory had become embarrassing to Emerson and he ceased hispublic appearances by 1879. On April 21, 1882, Emerson was diagnosed with pneumonia. He died on April 27, 1882. Emerson is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.
About his essay “Nature”
Introduction: 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 systemthat 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.
"Nature" is the firstsignificant 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 neweyes, 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. Emerson followed...