The Annotated Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, edited by David Mikics, foreword by Phillip Lopate. Harvard/Belknap, $35 (562p) ISBN 978-0-674-04923-9
The #1 essayist and pure prose stylist in U.S. literature is on grand display in this lavish edition of essays, poems, and passages from Emerson’s voluminous journals. The neophyte entering the Emersonian universe, as opposed to the scholar, is best served by Mikics’s careful annotations and cogent commentary surrounding these selections, though even the most knowledgeable scholar would benefit. With so many collections available over the years, the selection process is not easy. Although not the greatest of poets, Emerson can certainly lay claim to greatness as an engaged philosopher, as well as in his influence in the golden age of American writing. Mikics, University of Houston English professor, compares Emerson to Shakespeare in the way he pervades the culture. In fact, one of the most insightful essays is on “Shakspeare” (as Emerson insists on spelling the Bard’s name). Of keen interest are Emerson’s writings against slavery; his condemnation of Martin Van Buren regarding the Cherokee nation’s Trail of Tears; his sentiments on Margaret Fuller, whom, along with Thoreau, he held in the highest esteem. Also included are such touchstones as the Divinity School Address, “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “The Poet.” 92 color illus. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 02/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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