The transcendentalist movement is generally recognized to be the first major watershed in American literary and intellectual history. Pioneered by Emerson, Thoreau, Orestes Brownson, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson Alcott (among others), Transcendentalism provided a springboard for the first distinctly American forays into intellectual culture: religion and religious reform, philosophy, literature, ecology, and spiritualism. This new collection, edited by eminent American literature scholar Joel Myerson, is the first anthology of the period to appear in over fifty years. Transcendentalism: A Reader draws together in their entirety the essential writings of the Transcendentalist group during its most active period, 1836-1844. It includes the major publications of the Dial, the writings on democratic and social reform, the early poetry, nature writings, and all of Emerson's major essays, as well as an informative introduction and annotations by Myerson.
This magnificent edition of the writings of the Transcendentalists introduces a consequential strain of American thinking to new readers. The works have been sensibly selected, and because the original spelling and punctuation have been preserved, the dazzling originality of thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Peabody, and Margaret Fuller rises from the pages with the force and agility of a rousing sermon. Myerson (American literature, Univ. of South Carolina) has edited another collection on Transcendentalism and one on Emerson, but this work surpasses both. Here he deftly thumbnails each author's argument and, in an inspired introduction, reminds us that the seeds of much of America's greatest potential--the defiant belief in individual civil rights, justice, and equality--can be found by reading the Transcendentalists in their own words. This indispensable volume is highly recommended.--Ulrich Baer, New York University Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.