Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Essays and Lectures. Book Two (6).

1803 -1882. New York: Literary Classics of the United States. 1983.

Why read it? Emerson’s unit of thought is the epigrammatic sentence. Emerson writes a poetic prose. Emerson’s beliefs—that each man shares in the Over-Soul, or God, that man possesses, within himself, the means to all knowledge—expressed in his memorable sentences, are of central importance in the history of American culture. The only trouble is most of his ideas are half-truths.

“Yet there is not a trace of egotism [in Shakespeare’s plays].” P. 724. ………. “…his cheerfulness, without which no man can be a poet—for beauty is his aim.” P. 724. ………. “…if Napoleon is Europe, it is because the people whom he sways are little Napoleons.” P. 727. ………. “Bonaparte was the idol of common men, because he had in transcendent degree the qualities and powers of common men.” P. 729. ………. “An Italian proverb , too well known, declares that, ‘if you would succeed, you must not be too good.’ ” P. 729. ………. “History is full, down to this day, of the imbecility of kings and governors.” P. 732. ………. “In describing the two parties into which modern society divides itself—the democrat and the conservative—I said Bonaparte represents the Democrat, or the party of men of business, against the stationary or Conservative party.”  P. 744. ………. “Here [with Napoleon] was an experiment, under the most favorable conditions, of the powers of intellect without conscience.” P. 744. ………. Goethe: “I have never heard of any crime which I might not have committed.” P. 754.

To be continued,

No comments:

Post a Comment