The Influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson

1016 words 5 pages
Chris Schlegel
6/18/08
English 245 American Literature I
Dr. Calendar
Primary Source Paper

The Influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is considered by many as one of the most respected and widely known authors in the history of American literature. From his famous book “Nature”, to his various essays, poems and lectures, Emerson’s collection of works maintain an authentic diverse style that separated him from other authors. The confidence and optimism he portrayed thru his work helped to spawn an assembly of followers from not only America, but Europe as well. Many historians believe that Emerson may be the most inspirational figure in American thought since the colonial period,
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It is my belief that it was Thoreau’s aspiration to live the simple life Emerson spoke of so frequently in his writing relying only on himself instead of the influences of society. Although both Fuller and Thoreau were exceptional authors, and thinkers in their own right, there connection with Emerson is undeniable in relation to their life and works of literature. Furthermore the impact of Emerson’s work was not only realized in the United States, but across the Atlantic in Europe as well. Many Europeans found enjoyment in Emerson’s literature, and in an 1882 clipping from the New York Times I found an interesting editorial entitled “ British Views of Emerson.” This article confirmed the Europeans respect for Mr. Emerson including excerpts from various newspapers across Europe. The text within the article appreciates Emerson and his works referring to his unique style as “sometimes obscure, and yet apparently so simple.” There was also admiration for his humble demeanor citing that despite all his success he remained grounded, “in a tranquil seclusion, seeking none of the rewards that the world had to bestow, yet earnest in his efforts for the elevation of mankind. Before taking American Literature, I am disappointed to say that had never read nor heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson or his works. During an assignment requiring me to read and analyze Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance” I realized how

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