A Historical Guide To Ralph Waldo Emerson ed. by Joel Myerson (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

impressive is the corresponding text that accompanies each dramatization. Students are able to follow the text on one side ofdie screen as they view the scene on the other. This technology certainly reveals the dramatic quality of Dickens' storytelling and encourages students to pay close attention to die novelist's masterful use of language to develop visual images, specifically images of place and character. The CD-ROM also offers briefcharacter sketches ofthe major figures in the novel. While this feature may look all-too-much like a page out ofCliffs Notes, the treatments ofthe characters fill in much information about past connections between the major players in Dickens' plot that often elude students. In addition, there is lengthy bibliography that includes filmic, internet, and print sources. Regrettably, the print-based section is composed entirely ofbook-length studies. While this long list demonstrates the vast critical tradition associated with Dickens and A TaU ofTwo Cities, articles and chapters would certainly be more helpful forstudents conducting short-term research. CharUsDickens:A TaUofTwo Cities, like its bibliographic section, is an exhaustive resource for teachers and students ; however, it lacks a more organized cultural context for Dickens' literary work. It will, nevertheless, certainly aid students and teachers alike in their exploration and appreciation of the novel. Joel Myerson, ed. A Historical Guide To Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 322p. Cynthia A. Cavanaugh Kean University Reading R.W. Emerson's philosophical essays and attending his lyceum lectures, Americans found wisdom to order dieir daily lives. His opinions about topics such as the individual, nature, religion, antislavery and women's rights now appear in a new collection ofessays, A Historical Guide To Ralph WaUIo Emerson. This book is one in a series about American authors. Each book in the series contains both a shon biographyand a chronology ofhistorical events that occurred in contextwith important events in the author's life. The book commences with an introduction by its editorJoel Myerson, Carolina Distinguished Professor of American Literature at the University of South Carolina, who recendy received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society. Myerson also composed a useful "Bibliographical Essay" that appears at the end ofthe book and itemizes not only biographies and collections of essays about Emerson, but also books about Transcendentalism, Unitarianism, Philosophy, Literary History, and Concord (291-309). MO * ROCKY MOUNTAIN REVIEW * SPRING 2001 Myerson states, in the introduction, these historical essays "show us how Emerson was a product of his time" (4). They also demonstrate Emerson's timelessness , because his views continue to have meaning for twenty-first century Americans. The introduction is followed by "A Brief Biography" by Ronald A. Bosco and a section entitled "Emerson in His Time," which contains five essays by Emerson scholars Wesley T. Mott, William Rossi, David M. Robinson, Gary Collison, and Armida Gilbert. In the first essay, entitled "Emerson and Individualism," Wesley T. Mott discusses Emerson's concept ofself-reliance. Today some readers may connect selfreliance to self-aggrandizement or commercialism, but according to Mott, Emerson meant to minimize the "predatory qualities" ofman by emphasizing the concepts of"enduring individualism founded on reflection, principle, and ethical action" (88). Many Americans ofthe nineteenth century certainly needed a man who could tell them how to balance the materialism oftheir times with a philosophical viewpoint that encouraged a union with God and nature. Modern readers who desire to reassure themselves of the accuracy of Emerson's rejection of self-aggrandizement should recall the famous image of the "transparent eye-ball" in Emerson's essay "Nature." He explains that only when man stands upon the "bare ground" and loses his egotism does die eye-ball become transparent and allow the man to become one with God and nature (qtd. in Robinson 159). In the essay "Emerson and Religion," David M. Robinson asserts that "moral action" for Emerson constituted "the fundamental end of religious experience" (152). Emerson counseled people to seek an unselfish form of immortality by surrendering egotism and contributing to something larger than the self (173). Gary Collison also discusses Emerson's concept of "moral action" in his essay "Emerson and Antislavery." Emerson believed thatwhen a law ofsociety conflicted with a higher...


pdf