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Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Harvard University Press, 1971

At his death in 1882, Ralph Waldo Emerson was counted among the greatest poets in nineteenth-century America. This variorum edition of all the poems Emerson chose for publication during his lifetime offers readers the opportunity to situate Emerson’s poetic achievement alongside his celebrated essays and to consider their interrelationship.

Decades before Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson took their places in the firmament of American poets, Emerson was securely enthroned. Though his reputation as essayist now eclipses his reputation as poet, Emerson self-identified as a writer of verse and worked out his transcendental philosophy in this genre, establishing his belief in the authority of individual experience and in the essential metaphoric nature of language. Albert J. von Frank’s historical introduction traces the development of Emerson the poet, considering how life events, as well as his reading of German philosophy and Sufi poetry, influenced his thought and expression. Alongside accounts of the critical reception of his poems are public and private writings that reveal Emerson’s own estimation of his poetic project and achievement.

The textual introduction and apparatus make transparent the theoretical and practical concerns that inform these critical texts. Also included are a chronological lists of variants and texts constituting the historical collation, notes clarifying obscure allusions, and headnotes identifying sources and context.


front cover of The Complete Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 1
The Complete Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 1
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edited by Albert J. von Frank, Intro by David M. Robinson
University of Missouri Press, 1989

This inaugural volume of a four-volume set marks the beginning of the publication of all 180 of the extant sermons composed and delivered by Emerson between the start of his ministerial career in 1826 and his final retirement from the pulpit in 1838. 

Edited from manuscripts in the Houghton Library, Harvard University, the sermons are presented in chronological order in a clear text approximating as nearly as possible the original version read by Emerson to his congregation.  The historical introduction by David M. Robinson gives a significant appraisal of Emerson's life between 1826 and 1838 and of his absorption in and reaction against the religious culture of his time.


front cover of The Complete Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 3
The Complete Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 3
Ralph Waldo Emerson; Edited by Ronald A. Bosco; Chief Editor, Albert J. von Frank
University of Missouri Press, 1991

The forty-five sermons collected in Volume 3 were composed and first delivered between October 1830 and November 1831. During that time Emerson's first wife, Ellen Tucker Emerson, died of tuberculosis, a loss that deeply affected Emerson.

Transcribed and edited from manuscripts in Harvard's University's Houghton Library, the sermons are presented in a clear text approximating as nearly as possible the original version delivered to Emerson's congregation.  As well as the detailed chronology, explanatory footnotes, and textual endnotes found in previous volumes, this one contains a comprehensive index. 


front cover of The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson; Edited by Ralph H. Orth, Albert J. von Frank, Linda Allardt, & David W. Hill
University of Missouri Press, 1986

Published here in full are Ralph Waldo Emerson's nine poetry notebooks, the single greatest source of information about his creative habits in poetry.  Emerson kept rough drafts, revised versions, and fair copies of hundreds of poems in these notebooks, so that the genesis and development of poems both famous and obscure can be traced closely.  The notebooks have been remarkably little consulted, primarily because their unedited textual condition makes them difficult to use.  This edition makes them accessible to scholars by presenting a faithful transcription of each notebook, a detailed analysis of the history of each poem, an introduction, and a cross-referenced index.

For this edition, the editors have followed the high standards of textual practice developed for Harvard University Press's edition of The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  That editorial approach makes possible a logical, clear presentation of material that Emerson often jotted down in segments or with multiple erasures and insertions.

 Because it will allow scholars to examine as never before the many facets of Emerson the poet, The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson will be a major impetus to study of the man considered by many to be America's greates thinker.


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Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Major Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Harvard University Press, 2015

Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Major Poetry, like its companion prose volume, presents a selection of definitively edited texts drawn chiefly from the multivolume Collected Works. Accompanying each poem is a headnote prepared by Albert von Frank for the student and general reader, which serves as an entryway to the poem, offering critical and historical contexts. Detailed annotations provide further guidance.

A master of the essay form, a philosopher of moods and self-reliance, and the central figure in the American romantic movement, Emerson makes many claims on our attention. Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Major Poetry reminds us exactly why his poetry also matters and why he remains one of our most important theoreticians of verse. Emerson saw his poetry and philosophy as coordinate ways of seeing the world. “It is not metres,” he once declared, “but a metre-making argument, that makes a poem,—a thought so passionate and alive, that, like the spirit of a plant or an animal, it has an architecture of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing.”

All the major poems published in Emerson’s lifetime—chosen from Poems (1847), May-Day and Other Pieces (1867), and Selected Poems (1876) as well as uncollected poems—are represented here. Also included in an appendix is the first selection ever made of the poems and poetic fragments that Emerson addressed to his first wife, Ellen, during their courtship and marriage and concluding with the anguish of bereavement following her death on February 8, 1831, at the age of nineteen.


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The Trials of Anthony Burns
Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston
Albert J. von Frank
Harvard University Press

Before 1854, most Northerners managed to ignore the distant unpleasantness of slavery. But that year an escaped Virginia slave, Anthony Burns, was captured and brought to trial in Boston--and never again could Northerners look the other way. This is the story of Burns's trial and of how, arising in abolitionist Boston just as the incendiary Kansas-Nebraska Act took effect, it revolutionized the moral and political climate in Massachusetts and sent shock waves through the nation.

In a searching cultural analysis, Albert J. von Frank draws us into the drama and the consequences of the case. He introduces the individuals who contended over the fate of the barely literate twenty-year-old runaway slave--figures as famous as Richard Henry Dana Jr., the defense attorney, as colorful as Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Bronson Alcott, who led a mob against the courthouse where Burns was held, and as intriguing as Moncure Conway, the Virginia-born abolitionist who spied on Burns's master.

The story is one of desperate acts, even murder--a special deputy slain at the courthouse door--but it is also steeped in ideas. Von Frank links the deeds and rhetoric surrounding the Burns case to New England Transcendentalism, principally that of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His book is thus also a study of how ideas relate to social change, exemplified in the art and expression of Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Theodore Parker, Bronson Alcott, Walt Whitman, and others.

Situated at a politically critical moment--with the Whig party collapsing and the Republican arising, with provocations and ever hotter rhetoric intensifying regional tensions--the case of Anthony Burns appears here as the most important fugitive slave case in American history. A stirring work of intellectual and cultural history, this book shows how the Burns affair brought slavery home to the people of Boston and brought the nation that much closer to the Civil War.


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