The Essential 


Edited and Introduced by Richard Geldard

Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin - 2005


This anthology of Core Writings by the New England Transcendentalists Provides a Unique Overview of These Landmark Figures As Spiritual Thinkers.

Interest abounds in the work of the Transcendentalists, such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott. But few appreciate the truly mystical and contemplative qualities of the Transcendentalists, and the spiritual movements and figures they have inspired. 

As Richard G. Geldard -- one of today's leading scholars of Emerson -- illustrates in The Essential Transcendentalists, Transcendentalism amounts to a school of practical spiritual thought that aims to guide the individual toward inner development. Through revealing commentary, historical overview, and selections from classic works, The Essential Transcendentalists provides a distinctive and heretofore neglected overview of the spiritual breadth and depth of Transcendentalism. 

"There are several first-rate anthologies of American Transcendentalism that show that movement in its historical context -- but Richard Geldard's is the only one that is primarily concerned with the enduring truths and spiritual usefulness of the philosophical and religious movement set in motion by Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Alcott. Transcendentalism is very much alive today and Geldard shows it to be an urgent and appealing Way. This is a necessary book for the modern seeker." -- Robert D. Richardson, Jr., author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire

"This book is a call, clean and eloquent, from a Transcendentalist of our time, who asks us to remember something truly great and make it our own again." -- Roger Lipsey, author of The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art


Library Journal - November 1, 2005 - PHILOSOPHY

Transcendentalism—a.k.a. New England Transcendentalism because of the birthplace of its major participants—was an American political, spiritual, philosophical, and literary movement of the early 19th century that attempted to "transcend" the "mysteries of existence and being" and drew on the thinking of such great writers, poets, dramatists, and philosophers as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, and Immanuel Kant. This study, edited by Emerson scholar Geldard (dramatic literature & classics, Stanford Univ.) is divided into three main sections, each preceded by helpful explanatory introductions. The first is "Primary Texts," with selections from the writings of Sampson Reed, James Marsh, Amos Alcott (father of Louisa May), and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The second, "Individual Voices," introduces selections from Frederic Hedge, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. The last is "The Transcendental Heritage," which features the works of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Loren Eiseley, and Annie Dillard. This is a highly informed, elegantly written, fascinating story told through commentary, historical overview, and selections from classic works. It belongs in all libraries.—Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, DC


EMERSON SOCIETY PAPERS - Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2007