Nature - Conduct of Life

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Read Books, 2006 M01 1 - 320 pages
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The reading of Emerson on the Over-Soul, on the Law of Compensation, on the relationship between man and nature, on first principles and moral courage, self-realization, has had a formative influence on many readers. Often they first encounter his work by chance, but on reading him have gradually become confirmed Emersonians in their outlook. In the quiet of the Old Manse at Concord, Emerson could reflect at leisure and stretch the great wings of his imaginative insight. He gave substance to those things which, though aware of, we find difficult to match with words. Nature was Emerson's first published work and already there is evident Emerson's 'characteristic signature affirmation.' Emerson called his generation back to the primary conditions of man, to the 'insistent now of individual experience.' Emerson would feel a stranger in our world. Yet part dreamer, part realist, he is with us still, 'touching the very well springs of our moral courage' as a reading of The Conduct of Life will show, with its central theme of living with one's limitations

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About the author (2006)

Known primarily as the leader of the philosophical movement transcendentalism, which stresses the ties of humans to nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and essayist, was born in Boston in 1803. From a long line of religious leaders, Emerson became the minister of the Second Church (Unitarian) in 1829. He left the church in 1832 because of profound differences in interpretation and doubts about church doctrine. He visited England and met with British writers and philosophers. It was during this first excursion abroad that Emerson formulated his ideas for Self-Reliance. He returned to the United States in 1833 and settled in Concord, Massachusetts. He began lecturing in Boston. His first book, Nature (1836), published anonymously, detailed his belief and has come to be regarded as his most significant original work on the essence of his philosophy of transcendentalism. The first volume of Essays (1841) contained some of Emerson's most popular works, including the renowned Self-Reliance. Emerson befriended and influenced a number of American authors including Henry David Thoreau. It was Emerson's practice of keeping a journal that inspired Thoreau to do the same and set the stage for Thoreau's experiences at Walden Pond. Emerson married twice (his first wife Ellen died in 1831 of tuberculosis) and had four children (two boys and two girls) with his second wife, Lydia. His first born, Waldo, died at age six. Emerson died in Concord on April 27, 1882 at the age of 78 and is buried in Sleepy Hollow.

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