Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alfred Kazin observes in his Introduction, “was a great writer who turned the essay into a form all his own.” His celebrated essays—the twelve published in Essays: First Series (1841) and eight in Essays: Second Series (1844)—are here presented for the first time in an authoritative one-volume edition, which incorporates all the changes and corrections Emerson made after their initial publication.
The text is reproduced from the second and third volumes of The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a critical edition which draws on the vast body of Emerson scholarship of the last half century. Alfred R. Ferguson was founding editor of the edition, followed by Joseph Slater (until 1996).
A ‘critical’ and unmodernized text as close to Emerson’s original intent as modern bibliographic research can come.
Alfred R. Ferguson (1915–1974) was Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Jean Ferguson Carr is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, where she writes and teaches in composition, women’s studies, history of the book, literacy, and literary studies, focusing on nineteenth-century American constructions of literacy and letters.
Alfred Kazin (1915–1998) was Distinguished Professor of English, Emeritus, at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and author and editor of many books, including A Writer’s America: Landscape in American Literature.