Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History

Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism A Family History Mary Moody Emerson has long been a New England legend the eccentric Calvinist aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson wearing a death shroud as her daily garment This exciting new study based on the first read

  • Title: Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History
  • Author: Phyllis Cole
  • ISBN: 9780195039498
  • Page: 477
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Mary Moody Emerson has long been a New England legend, the eccentric Calvinist aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson, wearing a death shroud as her daily garment This exciting new study, based on the first reading of all her known letters and diaries, reveals a complex human voice and powerful forerunner of American Transcendentalism From the years of her famous nephew s infancyMary Moody Emerson has long been a New England legend, the eccentric Calvinist aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson, wearing a death shroud as her daily garment This exciting new study, based on the first reading of all her known letters and diaries, reveals a complex human voice and powerful forerunner of American Transcendentalism From the years of her famous nephew s infancy, in both private and published writings, she celebrated independence, solitude in nature, and inward communion with God.Mary Moody Emerson inherited both resources and constraints from her family, a lineage of Massachusetts ministers who had earlier practiced spiritual awakening and political resistance against England Cole discovers a previously unexamined Emerson tradition of fervent piety in the ancestors own writing and Mary s preservation of their memory She also examines the position of a woman in this patriarchal family Barred from the pulpit and university by her sex, she also refused marriage to become a reader, writer, and religious seeker.Cole s biography explores this reading and writing as both a woman s vocation and a gift to Ralph Waldo Emerson Helping to raise her nephews after their father s death, Mary Moody Emerson urged Waldo the college student to seek solitude in nature and become a divine poet Cole s pioneering study, tracing crucial lines of influence from Mary Emerson s heretofore unknown texts to her nephew s major works, establishes a fresh and vital source for a central American literary tradition.

    One thought on “Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History”

    1. Clearly Ralph Waldo owed much of his intellectual up-bringing to his relentlessly inquisitive, critical and prodding aunt, an absolutely fascinating individual, whose existence outside of the New England of the early 19th century can hardly be imagined. She was a self-taught polymath, whose knowledge of the works of the English romantics, German idealists (including Kant) and of higher Biblical criticism antedated that of transcendentalism's so-called founders. Without her unremitting and absolu [...]

    2. This is the biography of one of the most remarkable, quirky, eccentric, influential, under-appreciated women in American history. Mary Moody Emerson was Ralph Waldo Emerson's aunt. She influenced him in so many ways that it's difficult to discern how many of his ideas were his, how many he borrowed from Mary, and how many they worked out together. Waldo called her his muse. It's also very likely that she also gave Henry David Thoreau the idea for Walden. These two men in turn inspired thousands [...]

    3. This biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson's aunt is an in-depth family history centered around the eccentric, but admirable Mary Moody Emerson. Cole's research is penetrating and deeply contextualized, with attention to the the roles and relationships of figures often marginalized from standardized biographies. Herein, Cole illuminates the influence of familial social circles on the development of thought, and reminds us that estimable authors do not exist in a creative vacuum.

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