LITERATURE: Ralph Waldo Emerson

The School of Life (2016)

I’m proud to say that Ralph Waldo Emerson is an ancestor of mine on my mom’s side of the family. Ralph Waldo Emerson taught us about the presence of nature and something a little divine inside all of us. He was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and his ideology was disseminated through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay Nature. Following this work, he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.”

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