Such is the case with "Self-Reliance," which includes materials from journal entries dating as far back as 1832.In addition to his journals, Emerson drew on various lectures he delivered between 18.
The editors of the several volumes will be chosen for their special qualifications in connection with the texts to be issued under their individual supervision, but familiarity with the practical needs of the classroom, no less than sound scholarship, will characterize the editing of every book in the series.
In connection with each text, a critical and historical introduction, including a sketch of the life of the author and his relation to the thought of his time, critical opinions of the work in question chosen from the great body of English criticism, and, where possible, a portrait of the author, will be given. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, May 25, 1803.
He entered Harvard at the early age of fourteen, but never attained a high rank there, although he took a prize for an essay on Socrates, and was made class poet after several others had declined.
Next to his reserve and the faultless propriety of his conduct, his contemporaries at college seemed most impressed by the great maturity of his mind. He was always serene and thoughtful, impressing all who knew him with that spirituality which was his most distinguishing characteristic.
This year of travel opened Emerson's eyes to many things of which he had previously been ignorant; he had profited by detachment from the concerns of a limited community and an isolated church.
After his return he began to find his true field of activity in the lecture-hall, and delivered a number of addresses in Boston and its vicinity.As a preacher, Emerson was interesting, though not particularly original.His talent seems to have been in giving new meaning to the old truths of religion.One of his hearers has said: "In looking back on his preaching I find he has impressed truths to which I always assented in such a manner as to make them appear new, like a clearer revelation." Although his sermons were always couched in scriptural language, they were touched with the light of that genius which avoids the conventional and commonplace.In his other pastoral duties Emerson was not quite so successful.Ample explanatory notes of such passages in the text as call for special attention will be supplied, but irrelevant annotation and explanations of the obvious will be rigidly excluded. He was descended from a long line of New England ministers, men of refinement and education.As a school-boy he was quiet and retiring, reading a great deal, but not paying much attention to his lessons.All three epigraphs stress the necessity of relying on oneself for knowledge and guidance.The essay has three major divisions: the importance of self-reliance (paragraphs 1-17), self-reliance and the individual (paragraphs 18-32), and self-reliance and society (paragraphs 33-50).To tell the truth, in my opinion, that young man was not born to be a minister." Emerson did not long remain a minister.In 1832 he preached a sermon in which he announced certain views in regard to the communion service which were disapproved by a large part of his congregation.