Understanding Emerson: "The American Scholar" and His Struggle for Self-reliance
A seminal figure in American literature and philosophy, Ralph Waldo Emerson is considered the apostle of self-reliance, fully alive within his ideas and disarmingly confident about his innermost thoughts. Yet the circumstances around "The American Scholar" oration--his first great public address and the most celebrated talk in American academic history--suggest a different Emerson. In Understanding Emerson, Kenneth Sacks draws on a wealth of contemporary correspondence and diaries, much of it previously unexamined, to reveal a young intellectual struggling to define himself and his principles.
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In 1837, Emerson was invited to give the Phi Beta Kappa address to his alma mater, Harvard University. Sacks (history, Brown Univ.) sees the oration as a turning point in both Emerson's life and ... Read full review