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American literature New England Transcendentalism: Emerson and Thoreau.

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Presentation on theme: "American literature New England Transcendentalism: Emerson and Thoreau."— Presentation transcript:

1 American literature New England Transcendentalism: Emerson and Thoreau

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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”

6 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.

7 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

8 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.”

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