Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

Selected Bibliography on Emerson


Bryer, Jackson R. and Robert A. Rees. A Checklist of Emerson Criticism
Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1964.

Burkholder, Robert E. and Joel Myerson. Emerson: An Annotated Secondary
. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.


Burkholder, Robert E. and Joel Myerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson: An Annotated
Bibliography of Criticism, 1980-1991.
Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Woodlief, Annette. Emerson's Prose: An Annotated Checklist of Literary
Criticism Through 1976
. Studies in the American Renaissance, 1978. Pages

See also 
Paul Reuben's Emerson bibliography
Donna Campbell's bibliography.

Belknap Press at Harvard University publishes the 

definitive editions of Emerson's works
,including lectures and journals.



Allen, Gay Wilson. Waldo Emerson; a Biography. NY: Viking P, 1981.

Barish, Evelyn. Emerson: The Roots of Prophecy. Princeton: Princeton
UP, 1989.

Buell, Lawrence.
Cambridge: Belknap [Harvard] P, 2003.

Bufano, Randolf J. "Emerson's Apprenticeship to Carlyle, 1827-1848."
American Transcendental Review
. 13 (1972): 17-25.

Gonnaud, Maurice. An Uneasy Solitude. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987.

Harris, Kenneth Marc. Carlyle and Emerson: Their Long Debate.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.

McAleer, John. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter. Boston: Little,

Porte, Joel. Emerson in His Journals. Cambridge: Belknap P, 1982.

Slater, Joseph, ed. The Correspondence of Emerson and Carlyle. New
York: Columbia University Press, 1964.

Porte, Joel. Representative Man: Ralph Waldo Emerson in his Time. NY:
Oxford UP, 1978.

Richardson, Robert D. Emerson : The Mind on Fire : a Biography 
University of California: Berkeley, 1995.

Robinson, David. Apostle of Culture. Philadelphia: UP Press, 1982.

Rohler, Lloyd. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Preacher and Lecturer. Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood, 1995.

Rusk, Ralph. The Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson. NY: Columbia UP, 1957.

Thurin, Erik Ingvar. The Universal Autobiography of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Lund, Sweden: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1974.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Portrait of a Balanced Soul.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.


Criticism and Collections

criticism on Emerson's Poetry.

Allen, Thomas M. 
"The Geological Revolution in American Time." Conference on Temporal
Politics. []

Anderson, John Q. The Liberating Gods. Coral Gables: Univ. of Miami P,

Bishop, Jonathan. Emerson on the Soul. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1964.
Portions reprinted in
Sealts, pp. 140-44, and
Konvitz, pp. 201-10. 

Brown, Lee R.
Emerson Museum: Practical Romanticism and the Pursusuit of the Whole.

Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997.

Buell, Lawrence, editor. Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Collection of Critical
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, NJ. 1993. 

Burkholder, Robert and Joel Myerson, eds. Critical Essays on Waldo
Boston: G.K. Hall and Co., 1983.

Cady, E. H. and Louis Budd, eds. On Emerson. Durham, NC: Duke UP,

Carpenter, Frederic Ives. Emerson and Asia. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1930.

Carpenter, Frederic. The Emerson Handbook. NY: Hendricks House, 1953. 

Cavell, Stanley. Conditions Handson and Unhandsome: The Constitution of
Emersonian Perfectionism.
Chicago: U Chicago P, 1990.

Cayton, Mary Kupiec. Emerson's Emergence: Self and Society in the
Transformation of New England, 1800-1845.
Chapel Hill: UNC P, 1989.

Cheyfitz, Eric, The Trans-Parent: Sexual Politics in the Language of
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1981.

Donadio, Stephen, Stephen Railton, and Ormond Seavey. Emerson and His
Legacy: Essays in Honor of Quentin Anderson.
Carbondale: SIU P, 1986. 

Duncan, Jeffrey. The Power and Form of Emerson's Thought.
Charlottesville: U VA P, 1973.

Ellison, Julie K. Emerson's Romantic Style. Princeton: Princeton UP,

Field, Susan L. The Romance of Desire: Emerson's Commitment to
Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1997.

Garvey, T. Gregory, ed. The Emerson Dilemma: Essays on Emerson and Social
. Athens: Uni of GA P, 2001. 

Geldard, Richard G. The Esoteric Emerson: The Spiritual Teachings of Ralph
Waldo Emerson.
Hudson, N.Y.: Lindisfarne Press, 1993.

Geldard, Richard G. God in Concord: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Awakening to the
Burdett, N.Y.: Larson, 1999.

Gelpi, Donald L. Endless Seeker: The Religious Quest of Ralph Waldo
Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991.

Gougeon, Len. Virtue's Hero: Emerson, Antislavery, and Reform. Athens:
University of Georgia Press, 1990.

Harris, Kenneth Marc. "Coleridge, Carlyle and Emerson." Essays in
Fall 89: 263-279. 

Hodder, Alan D. Emerson's Rhetoric of Revelation: Nature, the Reader, and
the Apocalypse Within.
University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1989.

Hopkins, Vivian C. Spires of Form: A Study of Emerson's Aesthetic Theory.
Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1951. 

Hudnut, Robert K. The Aesthetics of Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Materials and
Methods of His Poetry.
Edwin Mellen Press, 1996.

Hughes, Gertrude Reif. Emerson's Demanding Optimism Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1984. 

Hutch, Richard A. Emerson's Optics: Biographical Process and the Dawn of
Religious Leadership.
Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1983.

Ihrig, Mary Alice. Emerson's Transcendental Vocabulary. New York:
Garland, 1982.

Jacobson, David. Emerson's Pragmatic Vision: the Dance of the Eye.
University Park: Penn State UP, 1993.

Kateb, George . Emerson and Self-Reliance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage P,

Konvitz, Milton R. and Stephen E. Whicher, eds. Emerson: A Collection of
Critical Essays.
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1962.

Lange, Lou Ann. The Riddle of Liberty: Emerson on Alienation, Freedom, and
Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986.

Leary, Lewis. Ralph Waldo Emerson: An Interpretive
Boston: Twayne, 1980.

Levin, David, ed. Emerson: Prophecy, Metamorphosis and Influence. New
York: Columbia UP, 1975.

Levin, Jonathan. The Poetics of Transition: Emerson, Pragmatism, and
American Literary Modernism.
Durham: Duke UP, 1999.

Lopez, Michael. Emerson and Power: Creative Antagonism in the Nineteenth
Dekalb, ILL: N ILL UP, 1996.

Loving, Jerome. Emerson, Whitman, and the American Muse. Chapel Hill:
UNC P, 1982.

Makarushka, Irene S. Religious Imagination and Language in Emerson and
. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.

McMillin, T. S. Our Preposterous Use of Literature: Emerson and the Nature
of Reading.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Michael, John. Emerson and Skepticism : the Cipher of the World.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins P, 1988.


Mott, Wesley T. and Robert Burkholder, ed. Emersonian Circles: Essays in
Honor of Joel Myerson.
Rochester: URochester, 1997.

Myerson, Joel, ed. Emerson Centenary Essays. Carbondale: Southern
Illinois UP, 1982.

Myerson, Joel, ed. Historical Guide to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Oxford,

Neufeldt, Leonard. Emerson: New Appraisals: Symposium. Hartford, CN:
Transcendental Books, 1973.

Neufeldt, Leonard, The House of Emerson. Lincoln, NE: U Nebraska P,

Newfield, Christopher. The Emerson Effect: Individualism and Submission in
Chicago: Univ. of Chicago P, 1996.

O'Keefe, Richard R. Mythic Archetypes in Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Blakean
. Kent: Kent State UP, 1995.

Packer, Barbara. Emerson's Fall. New York: Continuum, 1982.

Paul, Sherman. Emerson's Angle of Vision: Man and Nature in American
Harvard University: Cambridge, 1952.

Poirier, Richard. The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections.
New York: Random House, 1987.

Porte, Joel, editor. Emerson: Prospect and Retrospect. Cambridge:
Harvard UP, 1982.

Porte, Joel, Emerson and Thoreau: Transcendentalists in Conflict.
Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1966.

Porte, Joel and Saundra Morris, editors. The Cambridge Companion to Ralph
Waldo Emerson.
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.

Porter, David T. Emerson and Literary Change. Harvard University:
Cambridge, 1978.

Rao, Adapa Ramakrishna. Emerson and Social Reform. Atlantic Highlands,
N.J.: Humanities Press, 1980.

Roberson, Susan L. Emerson in His Sermons. Columbia: University of
Missouri P, 1995.

Robinson, David. Apostle of Culture: Emerson as Preacher and Lecturer.
Philadelphia: U Penn P, 1982.

Robinson, David M. Emerson and the Conduct of Life: Pragmatism and Ethical
Purpose in the Later Work.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Robinson, David. The Spiritual Emerson: Essential Writings. Boston:
Beacon Press, 2003. 

Rosenwald, Lawrence. Emerson and the Art of the Diary. New York:
Oxford UP, 1988.

Rountree, Thomas J., editor.Critics on Emerson. Coral Gables: U Miami
P, 1973.

Sacks, Kenneth S. Understanding Emerson: "The American Scholar" and His
Struggle for Self-Reliance.
Princeton: Princeton UP, 2003.

Scheick, William J. The Slender Human Word: Emerson's Artistry in Prose.
Knoxville: UT P, 1978.

Schermeister, Pamela. Less Legible Meanings: Between Poetry and Philosophy
in the Work of Emerson.
Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999.

Sealts, Merton M. and Afred R. Ferguson, eds. Emerson's "Nature"–Origin,
Growth, Meaning.
2d ed. Carbondale: SIU P, 1979.

Sealts, Merton M., Jr. Emerson on the Scholar. Columbia: University of
Missouri Press, 1992.

Simon, Myron, and Thonton H. Parsons, eds.
Transcendentalism and Its Legacy.
Ann Arbor: UMich P, 1966.

Steele, Jeffrey. The Representation of the Self in the American
Chapel Hill: UNC P, 1987.

Teichgraeber, Richard F., III. Sublime Thoughts/Penny Wisdom: Situating
Emerson and Thoreau in the American Market.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP,

Van Cromphout, Gustaaf. Emerson's Ethics. Columbia: University of
Missouri P, 1999.

Van Cromphout, Gustaaf. Emerson's Modernity and the Example of Goethe.
Columbia, MO:  University of Missouri Press, 1990.

Van Leer, David. Emerson's Epistemology: The Argument of the Essays.
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986.

Versluis, Arthur. The Hermetic Book of Nature: An American Revolution in
St. Paul, Minn.: Grail, 1997.

Wagoner, Hyatt. Emerson as Poet.  Princeton University: Princeton,

Whicher, Stephen. Freedom and Fate: An Inner Life of Emerson. NY: AS
Barnes, 1953.

Wilson, Eric. Emerson's Sublime Science. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1999. 

Yoder, R. A. Emerson and the Orphic Poet in America. Berkeley: Univ of
California P, 1978.

Zwarg, Christina. Feminist Conversations: Fuller, Emerson, and the Play of
. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

V Europe and European Books

IT was a brighter day than we have often known in our literary calendar, when within a twelvemonth a single London advertisement announced a new volume of poems by Wordsworth, poems by Tennyson, and a play by Henry Taylor. Wordsworth’s nature or character has had all the time it needed in order to make its mark and supply the want of talent. We have learned how to read him. We have ceased to expect that which he cannot give. He has the merit of just moral perception, but not that of deft poetic execution. Nothing of Milton, nothing of Marvell, of Herbert, of Dryden, could be. These are such verses as in a just state of culture should be vers de societe, such as every gentleman could write but none would think of printing, or of claiming the poet’s laurel on their merit. How would Milton curl his lip at such slipshod newspaper style. Many of his poems, as for example the Rylstone Doe, might be all improvised.  The Pindar, the Shakspeare, the Dante whilst they have the just and open soul, have also the eye to see the dimmest star that glimmers in the Milky Way, the serratures of every leaf, the test objects of the microscope, and then the tongue to utter the same , things in words that engrave them on all the ears of mankind. The poet demands all gifts, and not one or two only.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

VIII The Tragic

HE has seen but half the universe who never has been shown the house of Pain. As the salt sea covers more than two thirds of the surface of the globe, so sorrow encroaches in man on felicity. The conversation of men is a mixture of regrets and apprehensions. I do not know but the prevalent hue of things to the eye of leisure is melancholy. In the dark hours, our existence seems to be a defensive war, a struggle against the encroaching All, which threatens surely to engulf us soon, and is impatient of our short reprieve. How slender the possession that yet remains to us; how faint the animation! how the spirit seems already to contract its domain, retiring within narrower walls by the loss of memory, leaving its planted fields to erasure and annihilation. Already our thoughts and words have an alien sound. There is a simultaneous diminution of memory and hope. Projects that once we laughed and leapt to execute find us now sleepy and preparing to lie down afford to let go any advantages. The riches of body or of mind which we do not need to‑day are the reserved fund against the calamity that may arrive to‑morrow. It is usually agreed that some nations have a more sombre temperament, and one would say that history gave no record of any society in which despondency came so readily to heart as we see it and feel it in ours. Melancholy cleaves to the English mind in both hemispheres as closely as to the strings of an Aoelian harp. Men and women at thirty years, and even earlier, have lost all spring and vivacity, and if they fail in their first enterprises, they throw up the game. But whether we and those who are next to us are more or less vulnerable, no theory of life can have any right which leaves out of account the values of vice, pain, disease, poverty, insecurity, disunion, fear and death.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

VII A Letter

AS we are very liable, in common with the letter‑writing world, to fall behind‑hand in our correspondence; and a little more liable because in consequence of our editorial function we receive more epistles than our individual share, we have thought that we might clear our account by writing a quarterly catholic letter to all and several who have honored us, in verse or prose, with their confidence, and expressed a curiosity to know our opinion. We shall be compelled to dispose very rapidly of quite miscellaneous topics.

      And first, in regard to the writer who has given us his speculations on Railroads and Air‑roads, our correspondent shall have his own way. To the railway, we must say, — like the courageous lord mayor at his first hunting, when told the hare was coming, — “Let it come, in Heaven’s name, I am not afraid on ‘t.”  Very unlooked‑for political and social effects of the iron road are fast appearing. It will require an expansion of the police of the old world. When a railroad train shoots through Europe every day from Brussels to Vienna, from Vienna to Constantinople, it cannot stop every twenty or thirty miles at a German custom‑house, for examination of property and passports. But when our correspondent proceeds to flying‑machines, we have no longer the smallest taper‑light of credible information and experience left, and must speak on a priori grounds.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

VI Past and Present

HERE is Carlyle’s new poem, his Iliad of English woes, to follow his poem on France, entitled the History of the French Revolution. In its first aspect it is a political tract, and since Burke, since Milton, we have had nothing to compare with it. It grapples honestly with the facts lying before all men, groups and disposes them with a master’s mind, and, with a heart full of manly tenderness, offers his best counsel to his brothers. Obviously, it is the book of a powerful and accomplished thinker, who has looked with naked eyes at the dreadful political signs in England for the last few years, has conversed much on these topics with such wise men of all ranks and parties as are drawn to a scholar’s house, until such daily and nightly meditation has grown into a great connection, if not a system of thoughts; and the topic of English politics becomes the best vehicle for the expression of his recent thinking, recommended to him by the desire to give some timely counsels, and to strip the worst mischiefs of their plausibility. It is a brave and just book, and not a semblance. “No new, truth,” say the critics on all sides. Is it so? Truth is very old, but the merit of seers is not to invent but to dispose objects in their right places, and he is the commander who is always in the mount, whose eye not only sees details, but throws crowds of details into their right arrangement and a larger and juste‑ totality than any other. The book makes great approaches to true contemporary history, a very rare success, and firmly holds up to daylight the absurdities still tolerated in the English and European system. It is such an appeal to the conscience and honor of England as cannot be forgotten, or be feigned to be forgotten. It has the merit which belongs to every honest book, that it was self‑examining before it was eloquent, and so hits all other men, and, as the country people say of good preaching, ” comes bounce down into every pew.” Every reader shall carry away something. The scholar shall read and write, the farmer and mechanic shall toil, with new resolution, nor forget the book when they resume their labor.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

III Prayers

NOT with fond shekels of the tested gold,
Nor gems whose rates are either rich or poor
As fancy values them: but with true prayers,
That shall be up at heaven and enter there
Ere sunrise; prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids, whose minds are delicate
To nothing temporal.”


      PYTHAGORAS said that the time when men are honestest is when they present themselves before the gods. If we can overhear the prayer we shall know the man. But prayers are not made to be overheard, or to be printed, so that we seldom have the prayer otherwise than it can be inferred from the man and his fortunes, which are the answer to the prayer, and always accord with it. Yet there are scattered about in the earth a few records of these devout hours, which it would edify us to read, could they be collected in a more catholic spirit than the wretched and repulsive volumes which usurp that name. Let us not have the prayers of one sect, nor of the Christian Church, but of men in all ages and religions who have prayed well.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

II Walter Savage Landor

    WE sometimes meet in a stage‑coach in New England an erect, muscular man, with fresh complexion and a smooth hat, whose nervous speech instantly betrays the English traveller;— a man nowise cautious to conceal his name or that of his native country, or his very slight esteem for the persons and the country that surround him. When Mr. Bull rides in an American coach, he speaks quick and strong; he is very ready to confess his ignorance of everything about him, — persons, manners, customs, politics, geography. He wonders that the Americans should build with wood, whilst all this stone is lying in the roadside; and is astonished to learn that a wooden house may last a hundred years; nor will he remember the fact as many minutes after it has been told him: he wonders that they do not make elder‑wine and cherry‑bounce, since here are cherries, and every mile is crammed with elder‑bushes. He has never seen a good horse in America, nor a good coach, nor a good inn. Here is very good earth and water and plenty of them; that he is free to allow; to all other gifts of Nature or man his eyes are sealed by the inexorable demand for the precise conveniences to which he is accustomed in England. Add to this proud blindness the better quality of great downrightness in speaking the truth, and the love of fair play, on all occasions, and moreover the peculiarity which is alleged of the Englishman, that his virtues do not come out until he quarrels.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

I Thoughts on Modern Literature

     IN our fidelity to the higher truth we need not  disown our debt, in our actual state of culture, in the twilights of experience, to these rude helpers. They keep alive the memory and the hope of a better day. When we flout all particular books as initial merely, we truly express the privilege of spiritual nature, but alas, not the fact and fortune of this low Massachusetts and Boston, of these humble Junes and Decembers of mortal life. Our souls are not self‑fed, but do eat and drink of chemical water and wheat. Let us not forget the genial miraculous force we have known to proceed from a book. We go musing into the vault of day and night; no constellation shines, no muse descends, the stars are white points, the roses, brick‑colored leaves, and frogs pipe, mice cheep, and wagons creak along the road. We return to the house and take up Plutarch or Augustine, and read a few sentences or pages, and lo! the air swims with life, secrets of magnanimity and grandeur invite us on every hand, life is made up of them. Such is our debt to a book. Observe moreover that we ought to credit literature with much more than the bare word it gives us. I have just been reading poems which now in memory shine with a certain steady, warm, autumnal light. That is not in their grammatical construction which they give me. If I analyze the sentences, it eludes me, but is the genius and suggestion of the whole. Over every true poem lingers a certain wild beauty, immeasurable; a happiness lightsome and delicious fills the heart and brain, as they say every man walks environed by his proper atmosphere, extending to some distance around him. This beautiful result must be credited to literature also in casting its account.

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

IV Agriculture of Massachusetts

       IN an afternoon in April, after a long walk, I  traversed an orchard where boys were grafting apple‑trees, and found the Farmer in his cornfield. He was holding the plough, and his son driving the oxen. This man always impresses me with respect, he is so manly, so sweet‑tempered, so faithful, so disdainful of all appearances ; excellent and reverable in his old weather‑worn cap and blue frock bedaubed with the soil of the field ; so honest withal that he always needs to be watched lest he should cheat himself. I still remember with some shame that in some dealing we had together a long time ago, I found that he had been looking to my interest in the affair, and I had been looking to my interest, and nobody had looked to his part. As I drew near this brave laborer in the midst of his own acres, I could not help feeling for him the highest respect. Here is the Caesar, the Alexander of the soil, conquering and to conquer, after how many and many a hard‑fought summer’s day and winter’s day ; not like Napoleon, hero of sixty battles only, but of six thousand, and out of every one he has come victor ; and here he stands, with Atlantic strength and cheer, invincible still. These slight and useless city limbs of ours will come to shame before this strong soldier, for his have done his own work and ours too. What good this man has or has had, he has earned. No rich father or father‑in‑law left him any inheritance of land or money. He borrowed the money with which he bought his farm, and has bred up a large family, given them a good education, and improved his land in every way year by year, and this without prejudice to himself the landlord, for here he is, a man every inch of him, and reminds us of the hero of the Robin Hood ballad, —

Complete Works of RWE XII - Natural History of the Intellect

Art and Criticism

  Literature is but a poor trick, you will say, when it busies itself to make words pass for things ; and yet I am far from thinking this subordinate service unimportant. The secondary services of literature may be classed under the name of Rhetoric, and are quite as important in letters as iron is in war. An enumeration of the few principal weapons of the poet or writer will at once suggest their value.
      Writing is the greatest of arts, the subtilest, and of most miraculous effect ; and to it the education is costliest. On the writer the choicest influences are concentrated, — nothing that does not go to his costly equipment : a war, an earthquake, revival of letters, the new dispensation by Jesus, or by Angels ; Heaven, Hell, power, science, the Neant, exist to him as colors for his brush.
      In this art modern society has introduced a new element, by introducing a new audience. The decline of the privileged orders, all over the world ; the advance of the Third Estate ; the transformation of the laborer into reader and writer has compelled the learned and the thinkers to address them. Chiefly in this country, the common school has added two or three audiences: once, we had only the boxes; now, the galleries and the pit.