Ralph Waldo Emerson May 25, — April 27, ,  who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the midth century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1, 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 essay " Nature ". Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first and then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series , represent the core of his thinking.
He was invited to speak in recognition of his groundbreaking work Nature , published a year earlier, in which he established a new way for America's fledgling society to regard the world. Sixty years after declaring independence , American culture was still heavily influenced by Europe, and Emerson, for possibly the first time in the country's history, provided a visionary philosophical framework for escaping "from under its iron lids" and building a new, distinctly American cultural identity. Emerson introduces Transcendentalist and Romantic views to explain an American scholar's relationship to nature. A few key points he makes include:. Emerson was, in part, reflecting on his personal vocational crisis after leaving his role as a minister. This success stands in contrast with the harsh reaction to another of his speeches, " Divinity School Address ", given eleven months later.
Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau whole-heartedly embraced these principles. Both Thoreau and Emerson. Well, the answer is not so simple as the statement.
The influence is so strong that when I see my book at Walden Pond, I think of it as a mushroom that grew in the store. Normally I am an orderly, chapter-per-day kind of reader, using up a pack of Post-it flags and then typing up the important quotes later. After that, I lost my bearings.