women’s rights; emancipation; ralph waldo emerson; social change; abolition; united states; Boston
“This volume traces the life, thought and work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a giant of American intellectual history, whose transforming ideas greatly strengthened the two leading reform issues of his day: abolition and women’s rights. A broad and deep, yet cautious revolutionary, he spoke about a spectrum of inner and outer realities—personal, philosophical, theological and cultural—all of which gave his mid-career turn to political and social issues their immediate and lasting power. This multi-authored study frankly explores Emerson’s private prejudices against blacks and women while he also publicly championed their causes. Such a juxtaposition freshly charts the evolution of Emerson’s slow but steady application of his early neo-idealism to emancipating blacks and freeing women from social bondage. His shift from philosopher to active reformer had lasting effects not only in America but also abroad.
In the U.S. Emerson influenced such diverse figures as Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson and William James and in Europe Mickiewicz, Wilde, Kipling, Nietzsche, and Camus in Europe as well as many leading followers in India and Japan. The book includes over 170 illustrations, among them eight custom-made maps of Emerson’s haunts and wide-ranging lecture itineraries as well as a new four-part chronology of his life placed alongside both national and international events as well as major inventions.
Mr. Emerson’s Revolution provides essential reading for students and teachers of American intellectual history, the abolitionist and women’s rights movement―and for anyone interested in the nineteenth-century roots of these seismic social changes. “