Emerson and Eros: The Making of a Cultural Hero by Len Gougeon

By Len Gougeon

Traces the non secular, mental, and highbrow evolution of 1 of America’s most vital cultural figures.

This serious biography lines the religious, mental, and highbrow development of 1 of America’s most appropriate oracles and prophets, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882). starting along with his undergraduate occupation at Harvard and spanning the diversity of his grownup lifestyles, the e-book examines the complicated, frequently painful emotional trip inward that might ultimately rework Emerson from a normal Unitarian minister into one of many century’s so much bold highbrow figures. by way of connecting Emerson’s internal existence along with his outer existence, Len Gougeon illustrates a nearly seamless dating among Emerson’s Transcendental philosophy and his later occupation as a social reformer, a insurgent who sought to “unsettle all issues” in order to redeem his society.

In tracing the trail of Emerson’s evolution, Gougeon uses insights by means of Joseph Campbell, Erich Neumann, Mircea Eliade, and N. O. Brown. Like Emerson, all of those thinkers without delay skilled the fragmentation and dehumanization of the Western global, and all have been inspired either at once and ultimately through Emerson and his philosophy. eventually, this learn demonstrates how Emerson’s philosophy may develop into a significant strength of liberal reformation in American society, a strength whose impression is nonetheless felt today.

“A important contribution to Emersonian scholarship, this publication, in its attention of heroism when it comes to psychomythism, additionally presents considerate topic for the development of heroism within the modern era.” — The Year’s paintings in English Studies

“This ebook has a good venture, that is to rejoin Emerson the philosopher to Emerson the intuitive ‘visionary who feels in addition to thinks.’ … Gougeon’s precise readings are continuously compelling, and his arguments attractive and important.” — Emerson Society Papers

“…Gougeon deftly connects Emerson’s period to our personal, making him worthy and available to a brand new iteration of readers … Gougeon’s publication is so good written, so clearly grounded within the writers that attach us to Emerson, that it purely enlarges our engagement with the transcendentalist hero.” — The New England Quarterly

“…Emerson and Eros plumbs the depths a long way past the easy occasions in Emerson’s existence. scholars and scholar’s [sic] of Emerson’s vintage works will locate the meticulous dissection and reconstruction of Emerson’s intellectually formative affects an eye-opening, considerate, and compelling assessment.” — Midwest booklet Review

“[E]ven readers whose wisdom of Emerson is rusty, or those that infrequently recognize greater than the identify, will soak up [Gougeon’s] biography and his major principles with incredible ease … i've got seldom encountered a pupil so steeped in his material—Mr. Gougeon has been learning Emerson for 30 years—and but so able to conveying that studying with an admirable lucidity ... input the biographer—or particularly the biographical critic—as special as he's passionate, evincing in his evocation of Emerson’s eros a deep feeling of his personal that renews the feel of his topic as our contemporary.” — Carl Rollyson, The New York Sun

“I’ve learn this e-book with huge excitement; it's a compelling paintings of scholarship and non secular exploration.” — Jay Parini, writer of Robert Frost: A existence

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These moments come about historically because inevitably, all established systems of meaning atrophy and eventually fail to meet the emotional, spiritual, and political needs of the time. Such times require a new source of faith and meaning, one that satisfies the emotions as well as the intellect. 30 One such period of dramatic cultural change was the Renaissance. ”31 This new humanism often took the form of a revolt against the arid intellectualism of traditional scholastics and the methods of science as then known.

The universal force of gravity became a metaphor for cosmic harmony that extended into every aspect of human existence, even religion. As Laura Dassow Walls reports: “One of Emerson’s favorite authors, the Neoplatonist natural philosopher and clergyman Ralph Cudworth, had helped Newton develop the theological implications of his natural system. ”54 That mind now perceived unity everywhere. ”55 Vivian Hopkins also affirms Cudworth as an important source and notes that “the Neoplatonists . . ”56 Later, we shall examine Cudworth’s influence on Emerson’s effort at psychological and spiritual cosmogony in greater detail.

It resembles the situation in Campbell’s “monomyth” where the hero casts off the Psychomythic Humanism 29 strictures and beliefs of the ruling paradigm, which is failing, in order to begin the world anew. These moments come about historically because inevitably, all established systems of meaning atrophy and eventually fail to meet the emotional, spiritual, and political needs of the time. Such times require a new source of faith and meaning, one that satisfies the emotions as well as the intellect.

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