Henry David Transcendentalist American Essayist And Poet

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An important expression of Romanticism in the United States, it is principally associated with the work of essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson; journalist and feminist theorist Margaret Fuller; Unitarian minister and antislavery advocate Theodore Parker; and essayist, naturalist, and political theorist Henry David Thoreau.

In their initial phase, the transcendentalists extended the Unitarian theological rebellion against Puritan Calvinism, moving toward a post-Christian spirituality that held each man and woman capable of spiritual development and fulfillment.

Transcendentalists rejected Lockean empiricism, unlike the Unitarians: they wanted to rejuvenate the mystical aspects of New England Calvinism (although none of its dogma) and to go back to Jonathan Edwards' "divine and supernatural light," imparted immediately to the soul by the spirit of God.

For an excellent overview of American transcendentalism, go to Chapter Four of Paul Reuben's PAL site at California State University-Stanislaus and Ann Woodlief's Transcendentalism Web at Virginia Commonwealth University.

But "How shall we determine which are our higher instincts and which our lower instincts? Shall a man take himself as the center of the universe, and say all things are for his use, and count them of value only as they contribute something to his growth or well-being?

We do not perceive that he gives us any instructions on this point. Emerson and Thoreau began to absorb the spiritual sensibility of Asian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which were becoming available more widely in translation.Emerson, Fuller, and Thoreau gave the movement a literary character, based on Emerson’s innovative prose, Fuller’s translations and critical studies of Goethe, and Thoreau’s autobiographical narrative Walden (1854).We use cookies to make interactions with our website easy and meaningful, to better understand the use of our services, and to tailor advertising.For further information, including about cookie settings, please read our Cookie Policy .To learn more or modify/prevent the use of cookies, see our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.Transcendentalism was a religious, literary, and political movement that evolved from New England Unitarianism in the 1820s and 1830s.Cameron 1973 represents the extensive scholarly works of Kenneth Walter Cameron and has been particularly valuable for making little-known 19th-century materials available.For much more information than can be contained on this brief page, see Lawrence Buell's Literary Transcendentalism and other works from the selected bibliographies on Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.Capper and Wright 1999 provides historically grounded perspectives on themes and authors in the movement.Taylor 2010 places key transcendentalists in an account of New England conceptions of American intellectualism.

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