RALPH WALDO EMERSON: A Profile by Carl--Ed. Bode


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Now that even the most trivial Emersonia is becoming available (since 1960, six of the projected sixteen volumes of Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks have appeared) there is widespread interest, at least among scholars and students, in the Concord Sage. This collection of essays by Emerson's peers and more recent critics should help promote the revival. Bode, a professor of English at the University of Maryland (The Great Experience in American Literature and The American Lyccum, among others), supplies a biographical introduction and headnotes to the essays, which are arranged chronologically. They range from Van Wyck Brooks on Emerson in England to H. L. Kleinfeld on ""The Structure of Emerson's Death"" which assesses his international reputation. Annie Adams Fields, who attended the lectures at Harvard, provides her impressions--the sage barred notebooks, spoke briefly, and advocated independence. A contemporary account of the romantic courtship and first marriage (ending with his wife's death) contrasts with the standard portrait of a ""bloodless"" Emerson. Later critics are less complimentary--Jay Hubbell points out that his New England bias blinded him to post-war developments in the South, and Daniel Aaron demonstrates the ambivalence toward democracy. The book's main usefulness--insight into the history of a literary reputation.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Hill & Wang