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Emerson: The Mind on Fire (Centennial Books)

Emerson: The Mind on Fire (Centennial Books)
Author: Robert D. Richardson
ISBN 13: 9780520206892
ISBN 10: 520206894
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 1996-11-06
Format: Paperback
Pages: 684
List Price: $33.95

"Richardson's rich and extensive book on Ralph Waldo Emerson is a guide to the fire that burned always at the center of Emerson's life. . . . To read this book is to be touched on the shoulder by a thousand years of poetry and thought. . . . For those who would understand Emerson, it is unforgettable; it is essential."—Mary Oliver, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

"Emerson himself would surely have applauded Robert Richardson's monumental study, which treats the sage's thought not as a set of coldly reasoned propositions but as the continually shifting outcome of a struggle to surmount crisis and tragedy.
In the process, Richardson has fashioned our most credible portrait of a vulnerable, driven, fully human Emerson."—Frederick Crews, author of The Sins of the Father

"The best biography I have read in years. Mr. Richardson is just the splendid writer Emerson has long deserved, and he makes the story great-hearted, inclusive, intellectual, and inspiring. I was enthralled."—Edward Hoagland

"A superb work . . . that will quickly come to be regarded as the definitive biography of Emerson. . . . Richardson's greatest achievement is to restore for us the emotional and passionate element of Emerson's life and personality, and to make us understand how significant an element that was. . . . He brings a very complex and interesting man—not just a thinker—to life."—David M. Robinson, author of Emerson and the Conduct of Life

"Scholars and general readers alike will return to this comprehensive and painstaking study for a long time to come."—Joel Porte, editor of Emerson's Essays

"The most readable biography of Emerson ever written and also one of the best from a scholarly standpoint."—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University

In this magnificent study Emerson stands before us not only as the embodiment of his 'American Scholar' but also as a human mind. Richardson's Emerson is one whom we want to reread, but, more important, also whom we want to know as a friend and mentor."—Philip F. Gura

Publishers Weekly

The maverick intellectual life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) is the focus of this imposing, highly erudite biography. In 1832, Emerson resigned his Boston ministry to pursue a career as an essayist, orator and poet, delivering more than 1500 lectures in his lifetime, including ``The American Scholar'' (1837), and publishing essays such as Nature (1836) and Representative Men (1850). As America's foremost prophet of individual experience, he was also a founder of the Transcendentalist Club, editor of the transcendentalist magazine, The Dial, and spokesman for many reformist causes. Drawing on unpublished personal journals, correspondence and lectures, Richardson (Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind) charts, in exacting detail, the minutia of Emerson's daily life in Concord, Mass., and extensive travels; the literature and philosophy he read over several decades and how his reading shaped his steadily evolving intellect. Although the nuances of Emerson's personality are eclipsed by textual analysis, Richardson balances the often chilling puritanism of Emerson's writing with a portrait of the man as hungry for friendship, maintaining close relationships with Carlisle, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller; and whose icy doctrine of individualism reflects the loneliness caused by the premature deaths of his beloved first wife, his two younger brothers and numerous friends. (May.)