Presentation on theme: "American literature New England Transcendentalism: Emerson and Thoreau."— Presentation transcript:
American literature New England Transcendentalism: Emerson and Thoreau
General introduction of new England transcendentalism It is the summit of American Romanticism Leaders: Emerson and Thoreau Club: Transcendentalist Club Manifesto: Nature in 1836 by Emerson. (It is regarded as the Bible of New England Transcendentalism.) Their journal: The Dial Sources: German Idealism, German Transcendentalism and American Puritanism.
Major ideas of New England Transcendentalism Placing emphasis on spirit or Over-soul, as the most important thing in the universe. --- a new way of looking at the world Stressing the importance of individual (self-reliance) --- a new way of looking at man Offering a fresh perception of the nature as symbolic of the Spirit or God. “The Universe is composed of Nature and the Soul.” “Spirit is present everywhere.” The individual soul communed with the Over-soul and was therefore divine.
Influence of New England Transcendentalism An important influence to American literature. It inspired a new generation of famous authors as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman and Dickinson. It inspired one of America’s most prolific literary periods in its history.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American philosopher, poet and essayist The most eloquent spokesman of New England Transcendentalism. Works Nature 1836 Essays: First Series1841 Essays: Second Series “Representative Men” “English Traits” “The Conduct of Life” “The American Scholar” “The Over-Soul” “Self-Reliance” “The Transcendentalist” “The Poet”
Emerson During his lifetime he was considered one of the two or three best writers in America, and certainly the most influential among his contemporaries. His influence extended beyond his own century. His essay “The Poet” marked the birth of true American poetry and true American poets such as Whitman and Emily Dickinson. His “The American Scholar” has been regarded (first by Oliver Wendell Holmes) as “America’s Declaration of Intellectual Independence.” His reputation has fallen somewhat in the present century.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American essayist and poet Leader of American Transcendent Works Walden, or Life in the Woods Civil Disobedience Life Without Principle A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers The Maine Woods Cape Cod A Plea for Captain John Brown Slavery in Massachusetts
Evaluation His influence goes beyond America. Thoreau’s masterpiece, Walden, is a great Transcendentalist work that came out of the period under discussion. Thoreau has been regarded as a prophet of individualism in American literature. He was very critical of modern civilization. “Civilized man is the salve of matter.”