American Lit Podcast #8 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Emerson burst onto the American intellectual scene by more or less inventing that American intellectual scene. Emerson collected around him a group of like-minded intellectuals who played out, in their own careers, this same search for American identity. His first publication, Nature, calls for a distinctly American way of looking at the enduring questions of human existence. You might expect from the title “Nature” that Emerson is writing about sunsets and butterflies, but you get a better idea when you see that, right away, Emerson divides the universe into The Soul and everything else, and labels the everything else part “Nature.” For Emerson, creation was the visible mind of God, and its purpose – the purpose of Nature – is to reveal to us truths about our souls. American Literature Prediscussion Podcast #8: Emerson and Transcendentalism (about 18 min)

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