Ralph Waldo Emerson, the man and thinker, will be fully revealed for the first time in this new edition of his journals and notebooks. The old image of the ideal nineteenth-century gentleman, created by editorial omissions of his spontaneous thoughts, is replaced by the picture of Emerson as he really was. His frank and often bitter criticisms of men and society, his “nihilizing,” his anguish at the death of his first wife, his bleak struggles with depression and loneliness, his sardonic views of woman, his earthy humor, his ideas of the Negro, of religion, of God—these and other expressions of his private thought and feeling, formerly deleted or subdued, are here restored. Restored also is the full evidence needed for studies of his habits of composition, the development of his style, and the sources of his ideas.
The second volume prints the exact texts of nine journals and three notebooks. It reveals the shape of some of Emerson’s enduring interests, in embryo “essays” on the moral sense, moral beauty, taste, greatness and fame, friendship, compensation, and the unity of God and the universe. Restored from oblivion are suppressed passages on the Negro and revelations of acute melancholy and rebelliousness. These records of his developing thought are also the history of his early obscurity, when the fame he sought was still painfully remote.