Boston: James Munroe and Company. First Edition. full polished calf. Fine. FIRST EDITION of one of the most influential works of nineteenth-century American literature; an exceptionally fine copy in beautiful early binding. Emerson's essays "firmly established him as a major literary figure. Essays (1841) include 'History,' 'Self-Reliance,' 'Compensation,' 'Spiritual Laws,' 'Love,' 'Friendship,' 'Prudence,' 'Heroism,' 'The Over-Soul,' 'Circles,' 'Intellect,' and 'Art.' Emerson puts forth many of his basic ideas in this book. Self-reliance is, in his view, the belief that since all people contain a spark of divinity within them, the nurturing of this divinity by ignoring the conformist demands of society would result not only in self-reliance but god-reliance as well. Here Emerson states, 'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,' showing his belief that life is always changing and that our beliefs should reflect this. ('Self-Reliance' is Emerson's most famous essay and the one most widely reprinted.) Compensation is a sort of Newtonian law of morality, that for every negative event there is also a positive one. Friendship is the art of taking the best your friends have to offer as a means of enhancing self-development. In "Circles," Emerson proposes the circle as a metaphor for all human existence, with the individual as the first circle, who spends his or her life investigating the ever-expanding circles of knowledge, and the final circle always being beyond our grasp. All of these ideas fit Emerson's philosophy of continuous development or progression--the belief that we must always continue to grow and learn about ourselves, rather than patterning ourselves on an external and fixed model..." (American National Biography). "All of Emerson's early God-driven thought, from Nature, 'The American Scholar,' and 'The Divinity School Address,' reaches its climax in Essays: First Series. The theme is always the same, exultantly repeated, varied and even ornamented with extraordinary finesse and the fiercest personal eloquence. This was a great writer who turned the essay into a form all his own…" (Alfred Kazin, Introduction to The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson). Provenance: With handsome bookplate on front pastedown of Robertson Trowbridge, noted New York poet (active c.1900). Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1841, Octavo, early 20th-century black polished calf, gilt-ruled and blind-stamped spine, boards with gilt ruling surrounding a finely-executed blind-stamped pattern, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, silk bookmark. With spine from the original cloth bound-in. Text remarkably clean. A beautiful, exquisite copy in fine condition.
(Inventory #: 1772)
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