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Romanticism in Ameriea: The Transcendentalists

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2009

Extract

The period from roughly 1830 through the 1860's saw the growth of one of the most exotic intellectual movements ever to take root in American soil. Led by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the New England transcendentalists mounted an attack on the social, intellectual, religious and political beliefs which their fathers, not to mention their contemporaries, had blandly held to represent the ultimate of humanwisdom. If the American of the mid-twentieth century sometimes exhibits a distressing fondness for a public recital of national sins and shortcomings, the inhabitants of nineteenthcentury Boston revealed an enviable capacity for regional, if not national, self-congratulation. They surely would have agreedwith Dr. Pangloss that this was the best of all possible worlds, and why not? Was there not good reason to believe, as Oliver Wendell Holmes was later to suggest, that Boston was the Hub of the Universe?

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © University of Notre Dame 1973

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References

1 Miller, Perry, ed., The American Transcendentalists: Their Prose and Poetry (New York, 1957), p. ixGoogle Scholar.

2 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Complete Works, Riverside Edition, 12 vols. (Cambridge, 1883), VII, 2627Google Scholar.

3 Ibid., VII, 33.

4 “For in its origins romanticism was the revolt of the aesthetic sensibility against the philosophic spirit.” Shklar, Judith, After Utopia (Princeton, 1957), p. 12CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Hauser, Arnold, The Social History of Art, 4 vols. (New York, 1958), III, 179Google Scholar.

5 Quoted in Lowenthal, Leo, Literature and the Image of Man (Boston, 1957), p. 154Google Scholar.

6 “Not man, the rational animal, but Prometheus, the defiant creator was the new ideal.” Shklar, , p. 14Google Scholar.

7 Evans, D. O., Social Romanticism in France (Oxford, 1951), p. 2Google Scholar.

8 Emerson, VIII, 260.

9 Barzun, Jacques, Romanticism and the Modern Ego (Boston, 1943), p. 193Google Scholar.

10 Shklar, p. 66. See also Hauser, III, 179.

11 Quoted in Matthiessen, F. O., American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (New York, 1941), pp. 103104Google Scholar.

12 Hartz, Louis, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York, 1955)Google Scholar.

13 Porterfield, Allen Wilson, An Outline of German Romanticism (Boston, 1914), p. 177Google Scholar.

14 Miller, pp. 36–37.

15 Thoreau, Henry David, Writings, 20 vols. (Boston, 1906), IV, 174Google Scholar.

16 Emerson, VII, 59.

17 Ibid., XI, 279.

18 Brooks, Van Wyck, The Flowering of New England (New York, 1936), pp. 276277Google Scholar.

19 Kohn, Hans, The Idea of Nationalism (New York, 1944), p. 345Google Scholar.

20 Quoted in Goddard, Harold Clark, Studies in New England Transcendentalism (New York, 1908), p. 165Google Scholar.

22 Thoreau, IV, 278.

23 “Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England,” in Miller, , p. 5Google Scholar.

24 Emerson, III, 206.

25 Thoreau, IV, 480.

26 Ibid., p. 481.

27 Omond, T. S., The Romantic Triumph (Edinburgh and London, 1900), p. 297Google Scholar.

28 Quoted in Aris, Rheinhold, History of Political Thought in Germany (London, 1936), p. 289Google Scholar.

29 Emerson, III, 191.

30 Müller, Adam, “Elements of Politics,” in The Political Thought of the German Romantics, trans, and ed. Reiss, H. S. (Oxford, 1955), p. 144Google Scholar.

31 Emerson, III, 11.

32 “Aristocracy,” in Miller, , p. 306Google Scholar.

33 Emerson, VII, 34.

34 Ibid., p. 37.

35 Thoreau, IV, 365.

36 Ibid., p. 357.

37 In Aris, p. 277.

38 Müller, p. 145.

39 Thoreau, IV, 380.

40 “Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England,” in Miller, , pp. 1920Google Scholar.

41 “Aristocracy,” in Miller, , p. 297Google Scholar.

42 Ibid., p. 305.

43 Schleiermacher, Fredrich Ernst, “On the Concepts of Different Forms of the State,” in , Reiss, p. 196Google Scholar.

44 Fichte, J. G., “Comments on the Theory of the State,” in , Reiss, p. 120Google Scholar.

45 Ibid., pp. 121–122.

46 Miller, p. 340.

47 Kohn, p. 345.

48 Emerson, XI, 282.

49 Camus, Albert, The Rebel, trans. Bower, Anthony (New York, 1956), p. 53Google Scholar.

50 Cowley, Malcolm, Exile's Return (New York, 1951), p. 101Google Scholar.

51 Thoreau, II, 350.

52 Emerson, VIII, 290.

53 Ibid., III, 192.

54 Miller, p. 19.

55 Thoreau, Henry David, Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (New York, 1965), p. 62Google Scholar.

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