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Ralph Waldo Emerson


Introduction Nature is a short book by Ralph Waldo Emerson published anonymously in 1836. ... It marked the birth of true American poetry and true American poets. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • (May 25, 1803 --April 27, 1882) was an American
    author, poet, and philosopher founder of

1. Life
  • 1) born in a clergymans family in New England2)
    graduated from Harvard3) a Unitarian minister4)
    abandoned Unitarianism and went to Europe
    searching for truth5) founded a
    Transcendentalists Club and published a journal
    called The Dial6) traveled and gave lectures
    quite influential

2. Major works
  • 1) Nature ( a book which declared the birth of
    Transcendentalism)2) Some other essays preaching
    his thoughts "The Poet", "Self-reliance" and
    "The American Scholar" (Americas Declaration of
    Intellectual Independence)

3. Beliefs
  • 1) individualism
  • 2) independence of mind
  • 3) self-reliance.

4. Aesthetics and its significance
  • 1) Aestheticsa. In Emerson's opinion, poets
    should function as preachers who gave directions
  • to the mass.b. True poetry should serve as a
    moral purification.c. The argument (or his
    thought or experience) should decide the form of
    the poem.d. The poet should express his thought
    in symbols.

4. Aesthetics and its significance
  • e. Poets should use words for their pictorial and
    imaginative meanings.f. As to the theme, Emerson
    called upon American authors to write about
    peculiar American matters.2) SignificanceEmerson
    's aesthetics brought about a revolution in
    American literature in general and in American
    poetry in particular. It marked the birth of true
    American poetry and true American poets.

"Transcendental folly"
  • His reputation fell in the 20th century because
    he firmly believed humans and human society could
    be better. It seemed that he had no sense of evil
    and was too optimistic about human nature and the
    society. Somebody once called this kind of
    optimism "Transcendental folly".

II. Nature
  • 1. Introduction
  • Nature is a short book by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    published anonymously in 1836. It is in this
    essay where the foundation of transcendentalism
    is put forth, a belief system that espouses a
    non-traditional vision of nature.

II. Nature
  • The essay consists of the following chapters
  • ?Introduction
  • ?Nature
  • ?Commodity
  • ?Beauty
  • ?Language
  • ?Discipline
  • ?Idealism
  • ?Spirit
  • ?Prospects

II. Nature
  • Building on his early lectures, Emerson defines
    nature as an all-encompassing divine entity
    inherently known to us in our unfettered
    innocence, rather than as merely a component of a
    world ruled by a divine, separate being learned
    by us through passed-on teachings in our
  • It contends that expansion of the human soul is
    possible through a reconnection with nature and
    develops Emerson's idea of the "Over-Soul."

II. Nature
  • Emerson is 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 Longfellow and
    others who were strongly influenced by their
    British cultural heritage. Nature is the first
    significant work to establish this new way of
    looking at America and its raw, natural

II. Nature
  • 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
    new eyes and rebuild nature's role in the world.

II. Nature
  • 2. Detailed analysis
  • 1) To have a direct relation with nature, with
    God's divine creation, simply go out and look at
    the stars.
  • 2) The mind must be open to the appearances of
    nature in order to achieve true wisdom.
  • 3) The mind that is truly open to nature's own
    truth is poetic. There is a difference between
    the poet and the farmer or a wood-cutter.

II. Nature
  • The purpose or end of nature for the farmer or
    practical business person is that nature is a
    source of raw materials for human use the
    purpose or end of nature for the poet is that
    nature is a beautiful order. The farmer sees the
    part the poet sees the whole.

II. Nature
  • 4) Because most of us look at nature only with
    our own desires in mind, we do not really see
    nature. We need to look at nature as if we were
    little children, without adult cares and needs.
    Adults are morally corrupt children are innocent
    and able to have a direct relation with God's
    design. But an adult can be childlike if he or
    she is virtuous "The lover of nature is he whose
    inward and outward senses are still truly
    adjusted to each other."

II. Nature
  • Nature arouses all the emotions in us, because
    there is something emotional in nature. The
    infinity of nature absorbs the finiteness of the
    human self. The finite self ascends to the divine
    perspective of God, it rises to the God's-Eye
    view of the world "I become a transparent
    eye-ball I am nothing I see all the currents
    of the Universal Being circulate through me I am
    part or particle of God."

II. Nature
  • In the wilderness there is something that is as
    beautiful as humanity. Emerson's idea of the self
    in wilderness as an all-seeing spectator is very
    different than Thoreau's idea. For Thoreau, the
    self in wilderness is active.

II. Nature
  • 5) There is a relation of correspondence or
    analogy between human being and all natural
    beings for instance, there is a spiritual
    relation between people and plants. Nature and
    spirit mirror one another.
  • 6) What is essential is to be in harmony with
    nature. Our relation with nature is emotional and
    spiritual "Nature always wears the colors of the
    spirit." We project our emotions into nature, and
    nature reflects them back to us. Nature is a
    mirror of the moral state of the soul.


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