Published to mark the centenary of his death, this book helps us take measure of the work and influence of one of America’s foremost thinkers, Ralph Waldo Emerson. These nine essays attempt both to come to terms with Emerson’s modernity and to look back at his origins and development. They suggest how extensively Emerson is linked to the present and show how firmly he was rooted in America’s past. Though Transcendentalism has often been considered synonymous with aloofness and high-minded abstraction, the essays show that Emerson in fact aimed at the greatest possible inclusiveness in his own thought and writing. His work constitutes a great storehouse of reflection on every subject conceivable to a capacious nineteenth-century imagination; it continues to invite criticism proportionate to its own scope.