Estimating Emerson: An Anthology of Criticism from Carlyle to Cavell

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9781441199386: Estimating Emerson: An Anthology of Criticism from Carlyle to Cavell

Ralph Waldo Emerson is internationally renowned as helping to define American identity as we know it. What is less known is the degree to which he has inspired and influenced generations of other internationally celebrated writers and thinkers.Estimating Emerson is the most comprehensive collection yet assembled of the finest minds writing on one of America's finest minds. It serves as both a resource for easily accessing the abundant and profound commentary on Emerson's work and as a compendium of exceptional prose to inspire further thought about his contribution to our thinking.As 'America's Plato,' it is perhaps not surprising that Emerson has drawn a great deal of critical (in both senses of the word) attention. What is surprising, however, is the fact that so much of the attention was given by writers and thinkers as varied as Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, the James brothers, Walt Whitman, D. H. Lawrence, George Santayana, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, John Updike, and William Gass. Estimating Emerson collects for the first time the writing of these and many other notable writers as they consider the impact of Emerson on their life and work.

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About the Author:

David LaRocca is Writer-in-Residence in the Frederick Lewis Allen Room at the New York Public Library. He studied philosophy, film, rhetoric, and religion at SUNY-Buffalo, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and at Harvard University, where he was Sinclair Kennedy Traveling Fellow in the United Kingdom. Author of On Emerson (Wadsworth, 2003) and editor of Stanley Cavell's book Emerson's Transcendental Etudes (Stanford University Press, 2003), he writes regularly on topics in aesthetics, literary theory, and film. His essays have been published in volumes such as Nietzsche e L'America (Recensioni Filosofiche, Pisa 2005), New Morning: Emerson in the Twenty-first Century (SUNY Press 2008), Emerson for the Twenty-First Century(University of Delaware Press, 2010). His latest book, Emerson's English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Academic.

Review:

“This is the definitive anthology on America's premier man of letters” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson. Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor of Professor, Princeton University, USA

“Quite apart from the usefulness of having all these important essays handy, readers may also toy with this simple question: when writing about a writer's work, over the years, have critics gotten better or have they gotten worse? ” ―William H. Gass, David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, Washington University in St Louis, USA

“David LaRocca's Estimating Emerson is an essential anthology of criticism. Every lover of Emerson will be tempted to read deeply in this volume, which offers a rich spectrum of reactions to the Emersonian genius, from Emerson's own day to the present. It's not just a delightful book, but a necessary one. ” ―David Mikics, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of English, University of Houston, USA, and Editor of The Annotated Emerson

“LaRocca's anthology, Estimating Emerson, offers a unique invitation to essential knowledge for anybody interested in America's sense of itself for the better part of the last two centuries. In our literary and philosophical culture Emerson's writings and reputation have cast the longest shadow. How Emerson is perceived amounts to the most direct route to who we are or who we wish, or seem, to be. Even those who want to reject Emerson's legacy will welcome this volume since it gathers a decisive quorum of the most significant anti-Emersonian voices as well as the most enthusiastic and the most discerning. The inheritability of this unavoidable patrimony poses challenges of reading not only Emerson's remarkable writing. It also entails reading the writing of his remarkable readers who have created many memorable versions of the so-called sage or Lucifer of Concord, depending on whom you consult” ―Poe or Hawthorne, Updike or Cavell, among many others. LaRocca has gathered together the most comprehensive one-volume collection of first-rate writers responding to Emerson since such reckonings became necessary. Lawrence F. Rhu, Professor of English, University of South Carolina, USA

“This is a GREAT idea, and it is amazing to me that no such book already exists! It is a much needed anthology, and will be welcome for those who want to get a sense, in a single volume, of the breadth and profundity of Emerson's influence over the last 170 years, and also to defamliarize the 'Sage of Concord' as an exclusively New England personage. The writings LaRocca has assembled here show what an international figure Emerson was. Anybody who cares about literature on any level ought to be struck by, and interested in, this.” ―Paul Grimstad, Assistant Professor of English, Yale University, USA

“I find it especially valuable that LaRocca has chosen a wide array of writers within and outside U.S. borders. Now that the humanities are going global, it is especially timely to foreground the transnational connections between American writers (whether canonical or not) and writers beyond its borders. In this sense, it is obvious that LaRocca knows Emerson criticism in depth: not only has he selected these essays using a convincing criterion about Emerson’s relevance in the English-speaking world (which is the subject of the 1834-60 section); he has also constructed a volume that speaks for Emerson’s importance beyond the American background (the rest of the sections include essays by Lawrence, Proust, Musil, Maeterlinck, Borges, etc.). In addition, some of the essays in the collection--such as those by Elizabeth Peabody, Amos Bronson Alcott, Robert Frost or Harold Bloom (especially “Mr. America”)―are very hard to find today, which makes this collection is an invaluable tool for anyone interested not only in Emerson scholarship but in the literary culture of the American Renaissance in general.” ―Ricardo Miguel-Alfonso, Associate Professor of English and American Literature, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

“I cannot think of a more useful and necessary resource for reading about and especially teaching Emerson's complex but crucial essays than Estimating Emerson: An Anthology of Criticism from Carlyle to Cavell.” ―Richard Deming, Lecturer in English, Yale University, USA

“LaRocca’s anthology, Estimating Emerson, offers a unique invitation to essential knowledge for anybody interested in America’s sense of itself for the better part of the last two centuries. In our literary and philosophical culture Emerson’s writings and reputation have cast the longest shadow. How Emerson is perceived amounts to the most direct route to who we are or who we wish, or seem, to be. Even those who want to reject Emerson’s legacy will welcome this volume since it gathers a decisive quorum of the most significant anti-Emersonian voices as well as the most enthusiastic and the most discerning. The inheritability of this unavoidable patrimony poses challenges of reading not only Emerson’s remarkable writing. It also entails reading the writing of his remarkable readers who have created many memorable versions of the so-called sage or Lucifer of Concord, depending on whom you consult―Poe or Hawthorne, Updike or Cavell, among many others. LaRocca has gathered together the most comprehensive one-volume collection of first-rate writers responding to Emerson since such reckonings became necessary.” ―Lawrence F. Rhu, Professor of English, University of South Carolina, USA

“This is one well-condensed and skillfully explained volume with more than 170 years of analytical commentary on Emerson. Given their illustrious intellectual pedigrees and histories of influence, 67 writers have composed work on Emerson: not just any writers, but some of the finest and most celebrated contributors to prose in the last few centuries. [...] Estimating Emerson reveals a long, but not exhaustive span from classical to contemporary views, which are not only from America, but also Great Britain, Europe and Latin America. The absolute magnitude and miscellany of comments creates a kind of consensus, across time, of Emerson's enduring significance.” ―PSNews, Australia

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