Friday, September 30, 2011
I had started reading Packer's history when I came across the second book: Selected Writings of the American Transcendentalists edited by George Hochfield. Hochfield's book assembles key writings by thinkers who led up to Transcendentalism and essays by the actual leaders of the movement as well. So it's all the cerebral 'wiring' behind the history that Packer's book covers.
Hochfield's book includes material by George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, Theodore Parker, Bronson Alcott, and many others. A further plus is what the book doesn't include: the really popular pieces from the movement: Walden, Emerson's essays, etc. Hochfield wisely kept these out since most people likely have access to them through other books or already have them in their library. This means his book is filled with material you probably would not be able to get and/or are unlikely to own.
I'll re-read some of Emerson's essays (most notably Nature) as I do this exercise. Plus it will spur me to finally read Walden, which I have to admit is something I haven't done. Probably not everyone's idea of fun, but for an Early US Literature fanboy like myself, it's as fun as watching UFC matches!