Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Emerson

Carlos Baker, a professor at Princeton and biographer of Ernest Hemingway, died of cancer in 1987, prior to completing the final touches--an introduction discussing Emerson's philosophy of friendship and an epilogue supposed by its title "Exeunt Omnes" to inform the reader of the lives of Emerson's surviving friends following his own death. (Emerson had Alzheimer's--I know that from reading David Shenk's The Forgetting back in 2001.)

This lack of the intended beginning is surely behind the truncation of Emerson's early years; by page two of chapter one Waldo and his brothers are grown and educated, dealing with the threat of tuberculosis and mental illness, and we've been told that Waldo's wife Ellen will die of TB in 1831 (Waldo visits his wife's tomb and opens her coffin on page 11). A Unitarian minister, Emerson has a crisis of faith over the Eucharist: "I think Jesus did not mean to institute a perpetual celebration." By the end of the chapter it is Chistmas Day 1832, Emerson is 29 and sailing out of Boston harbor on his way to Malta.

A timeline of Emerson's life, including the early years, is available here. Also included: an overview of Emerson's philosophy and a bibliography.

Ralph Waldo Emerson quotations page: "All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as a plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason."

Essays and concordance, info on transcendentalism, from Donna Campbell at Gorganza University.

No comments: