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• , .·,.,· · J I } . "' .. .. .' I ' _I . ' . ' THE UNIVERS!T~ OF ,TO~PNTO QUAR;ERLY · ' 108 [. , : ~.· , The Portable Emerson. Edited by MARK V.AN DoREN. New ~ York:. hI; \ I . _ has made a selection of essays, poems, letters, and a part of the ']ournal.r, 1 • , , , to ·show Emerson at his most attractive-the prophet, homely but elegant, · ,._ . provincial but one-worldly, witty but serious, the' supple mediator between what is and what equid be, communicated to the reader in some of the li ~eliest English prose of this last one hundred .years. · •.',. r \ ' I.' :·,_ ~. . .' ' '• r' ~ . ', ' ' • I I • •. I t ' ' L• ,,• •• 0 I ! - ' ' . 1 .. 1' . I . . I ' . • "\ .I ~ . '' ' I r' I ' I . r -..... ~ I, . ~ t· The editor wisely has abandoned the conventional chronological ordering of his essay selections, and has -grouped them in three clusters, "Progr'ams/' ''The Ways of Life," and "People."-- The first group, "Programs~" includes ~"The' American Scholar,n the Divinity School Address, "Man the Reformer ," "The Conservative/' and "l'few .England Reformers"-: five lectures delivered to five different kinds of Cambridge .and Boston audiences during the early"ftowering of New England,'-' 18.37 to 1844. The_ first essay here, ~ ~The American· Scholar," was delivered before the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Society exactly one hundred years ago (31 August); today many young Canadians might be jolted by its iteration that "we walk on our.own feet, work with our own hands, and speak with our own minds." Iri this .group the reader may miss the presence of the essays '~Self-Reliance" and ·· "The Over-Soul," but this anthology runs to 66~ pages ~s it stands, and· what Van Doren· does print here Clearly establishes Emerson's central p'rinciple-the self-reliance of the individual who has hitched his wagon to the Over-Soul. . ' , The secti~n "Programs" is followed by "The Ways of Life," ten .essays ~n which Emerson discoursed on "the fact, and the facts of existence." This group includes among others "History," "Manners," uPolitics," "The Comic,". ((The Tragic," and "Ipusions." Not ·all of these te~ have ~he rhetorical ·surge of the earlier .essays; occasionally one is reminded that we are not tra'ined to listen as .long or as closely even to Emersons as were the audiences of one hundred years ago. Yet all these essays ~ear well;· the· thought- has a high level o{ validit1 y;. the expression glances expertly and surprisingly between the poles of idealism and actuality; the abstractions are spiked richly with shirt-sleeve observations; the style has simplicity arid strength: ·"Cut these words and they would bleed; they are vascular and alive; they walk. and run. Moreover they who speak them have ,this elegancy, that they do n'ot trip in their speech. It is a- shower of bullets...." I ' ' ,. \ . • J - · .. - .·, 1,_' ~·· 1 , - . , I \. I I • • I , - - I • . \ ' •' I I ' .-, ·' '. ' I , ' . ·, I-- ~ . ' : .: '\ • L , • . ,._ ·. iI ":.., I tl.., ( i ' I I • ~ l ,' I • I :&~VIEWS -, .' I "I. I ' ,.. I , ' ·The third group' ·of essays~ "People," shows Emerson deal,ing with·what was central-to him-the individual. It consists of twelve out of nineteen chapters _ of Engli;h Traits, the character sketches of Montaig~e, Mar·y 1 l\1oody Emerson, Thoreau, Carlyle, and Burns, arid also ''Historic Notes o(Life..and Letters jn New. England." ' It is fitting that English Traits· appears under ((People" since essentially it is ~ study of the personal force of,English individuals. Emerson's habitual mode of perception, which·led him.to see things in relationships, here is at-its shrewdest and most delightful; hisp,raise of any one aspect. o-fthe English also informs the reader of his silent criticism, and his evaluation of the English silhouettes his evaluation ofthe American, espe~ially of the New England American. Thus in the· 1 individual character sketches too, the r~ader comes to know the ri,ch multiplicities of the unity, Emerson. .· In a fourth section, "Poems," the editor prints' the cream of Emerson's . po~ms, ninetee_n~ in all, ranging from the con'ventional "Conco~d Hymn, to the more,typical tight-lipped verse- which at its best might be mistaken for the g~omic lyrical work of Emily Dickinson. , Van Doren also reprints thirty...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 108-109
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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