Emerson On The Scholar, by Merton M. Sealts, Jr.
Hardcover in Very Good Condition
University of Missouri Press
In this innovative study of Ralph Waldo Emerson's conception of the scholar, Merton Sealts sheds new light on Emerson's attainment of his influential position in nineteenth-century intellectual, cultural, and literary history. Sealts is the first author to go beyond Henry Nash Smith's statement, "The Scholar is the hero of Emerson's unwritten Prelude"--the protagonist of his spiritual autobiography--by systematically examining the development and testing of the scholar as Emerson's idealized self-image.
During the 1830s, after Emerson had resigned his Boston pulpit and was seeking a new vocation, he began to conceive of the scholar as someone who could think for and speak to all mankind. From that time on, Emerson adopted the scholar's "angle of vision" as his own and began to measure his private and professional life against his often-invoked conception of "the true scholar."
Part I of Emerson on the Scholar shows how Emerson came to think of the ideal scholar as the "intellectual man," "the Thinker," and finally as "Man Thinking." His image of what the true scholar should be remained essentially unchanged, but his idea of how the scholar should respond to public issues gradually altered during his later years as the crisis over slavery increasingly divided America. Part II examines Emerson's reaction to both personal and public crises as the country moved toward the Civil War and beyond and as he himself became more and more active in the Anti-Slavery movement. The book concludes with an appraisal of the Emersonian scholar in his role as a widely respected teacher of self-reliance and self-fulfillment.
Following the course of Emerson's intellectual life in terms of his chosen angle of vision as a scholar, Emerson on the Scholar leads to a new understanding and appreciation of Emerson and his thought in relation to American life, then and now.