The Influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Chris Schlegel
6/18/08
English 245 American Literature I
Dr. Calendar
Primary Source Paper

The Influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is considered by many as one of the most respected and widely known authors in the history of American literature. From his famous book “Nature”, to his various essays, poems and lectures, Emerson’s collection of works maintain an authentic diverse style that separated him from other authors. The confidence and optimism he portrayed thru his work helped to spawn an assembly of followers from not only America, but Europe as well. Many historians believe that Emerson may be the most inspirational figure in American thought since the colonial period, and In my opinion without Emerson’s influences on American Literature and Transcendentalism the new thought movement, and conception of individualism during the 19th century may have never taken place. Emerson’s 1836 essay “Nature” is considered by many to be the foundation of Transcendentalism, and the “New Thought” movement that followed. Both terms were considered anomalies at the time since they protested against the “normal” cultural, and social trains of thought during the 19th century. In Samuel Osgood ‘s 1837 publication “The Western Messenger” Osgood reviews “Nature” and is quoted as saying the following, “whatever may be thought of the merits, or of the extravagances of the book, no one, we are sure can read it without feeling himself more wide awake to the beauty and meaning of creation.” It was the core belief of transcendentalists that individual intuitions should be at the forefront of their being, and not be limited to established forms of culture. This conviction was right on with Emerson’s philosophy, which encouraged people to think for themselves, and follow their hearts. It was Emerson’s own nature in fact that touched so many peoples mind and soul, generating a group of admirers that held him in...
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