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Nature

  • Date Submitted: 03/17/2010 06:57 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 36.3 
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Nature is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Recent advances in zoology, botany, and geology confirmed Emerson's intuitions about the intricate relationships of Nature at large. A visit to the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris inspired a set of lectures delivered in Boston and subsequently the ideas leading to the publication of Nature.

Emerson defines nature as a paradise rather than being ruled by a superior being

Many scholars identify Emerson as one of the first writers (with others, notably Walt Whitman) to develop a literary style and vision that is uniquely American, rather than following in the footsteps of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and others who were strongly influenced by their British cultural heritage. "Nature" is the first significant work to establish this new way of looking at The Americas and its raw, natural environment. In England, all natural things are a reference to layers of historical events, a reflection of human beings. However, in America, all of nature was relatively new to Western Civilization with no man-made meaning. With this clean slate, as it were, Emerson was enabled to see nature through new eyes and rebuild nature's role in the world.

Henry David Thoreau had read "Nature" as a senior at Harvard College and took it to heart. It eventually became an essential influence for Thoreau's later writings, including his seminal Walden.

Emerson followed the success of this essay with a famous speech entitled "The American Scholar". These two works laid the foundation for both his new philosophy and his literary career.

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