To describe reading as quarrying, as Emerson does above, is an injunction to put books to the “right use”: to read actively, as he will say. “Man Thinking must not be subdued by his instruments.” Emerson would be quite astonished by the digital spaces in which reading unfolds; and his words might serve as a cautionary note. Yet the affordances of reading using computational tools might also align with the ways of reading Emerson endorses in his “theory of books.”
In class today I want share with you a way of using Google Books to search for terms and phrases. These searches can serve to orient you to a text or body of texts that will be useful for your indivudal projects.
- 1. Nature, addresses, and lectures
- 2. Essays: first series
- 3. Essays: second series
- 4. Representative men: seven lectures
- 5. English traits
- 6. The conduct of life
- 7. Society and solitude
- 8. Letters and social aims
- 9. Poems: a variorum edition
- 10. Uncollected prose writings; addresses, essays, and reviews
Other Editions (Examples)
(10, 11 and 12 no ebooks)
What is Nature for Emerson?
Richardson, Emerson: The Mind on Fire (225): Nature and conception of religion: nature as source, rather than old texts (scriptures), religious institutions, or reported miracles
Working with text of Nature (1836) Eight sections—–Nature, Commodity, Beauty, Language, Discipline, Idealism, Spirit and Prospects—–each a different perspective on the relationship between humans and nature?
Affinities with Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (on the Nature of Things)
In Nature distinction between Nature and Soul (28)
Nature and the Soul
nature and consciousness
the world and the mind
Not me and me
“Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which philosophy distinguishes as the not me both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, nature” (28).
“We cannot speak of experience without speaking of experience of something, and that something says Emerson is nature” (Richardson 228)
What does Emerson mean by “Soul”?
Natural history (science) as a pursuit of spiritual truth
Look at other writing in 1830s. How does Emerson use the term and concept Nature? (Natural History Lectures)
“Humanity of Science,” a lecture given in 1836, the same year Nature was published, “[that] science is bankrupt which attempts to cut the knot which always spirit must untie”
Also see “The Uses of Natural History” and “The Naturalist.”
Nature is source; of material for life; Of ideas and beauty;
Nature educates us, informs us, endows us
Nature is the means by which the mind expresses itself: material is found by writers in nature, both subjects and language to express them
Nature is source of human potential, not social or economic status
Nature is source for moral action
Nature is source for question, How shall I live?
Words are rooted in nature
(cf twelfth chapter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria)
Words: delight, wild, light, exhilaration, gladness.