The final volume of the Harvard edition presents the journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s last years. In them, he reacts to the changing America of the post–Civil War years, commenting on Reconstruction, immigration, protectionism in trade, and the dangers of huge fortunes in few hands—as well as on baseball and the possibilities of air travel. His role as a Harvard Overseer evokes his thoughts on education during crucial years of reform in American universities.
His travels take him to Europe for the third time, and for the first time he encounters the new garden of California and the enigma of Egypt. He continues to lecture, and a second volume of poems and two more collections of essays, culled from his manuscripts, are published. Finally, his late journals show Emerson confronting his loss of creative vigor, husbanding his powers, and maintaining his equanimity in the face of decline.
This concluding volume thus gives a complex picture of Emerson in his last sixteen years, facing old age but still the advocate of “newness” throughout the world.
That the editors have been able to order this fascinating chaos is a tribute to their patience, intelligence, and skill. There will never have to be another edition.
No American mind stands more influentially for creativity than Emerson’s. And these lifelong records, his journals particularly, provide unique glimpses into his growth… His journalizing was literary practice, but above all, it was a heritage from the unsparing Puritan self-examination of the spirit.
What appeals in this volume is the freshness and nearness of Emerson the person. A man so reserved and scrupulous is only to be known in his private journals. That his earlier editors Edward Waldo Emerson and Waldo Emerson Forbes made him less of a person is well known. This latest volume furthers the restoration of his wildness, his uncertainties, and his originality.
- 632 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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