Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) settled in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1834, where he began a career as a public lecturer. Every year Emerson made a lecture tour, the source of most of his essays. His principal publications include Nature (1836), two volumes of Essays (1841, 1844), Poems (1847), Representative Men (1850), The Conduct of Life (1860), and Society and Solitude (1870). Joel Porte (1933-2006), volume editor, won the Bowdoin Prize in 1962 for his essay on Emerson, and was granted the Distinguished Achievement Award by the Emerson Society in 2006. He authored many studies of nineteenth-century and modern literature, including Emerson and Thoreau: Transcendentalists in Conflict, The Romance in America, and Representative Man: Ralph Waldo Emerson in his Time.
"The Emerson who speaks to us through these essays understood America as few have done before or since. By nature a dualistic thinker, he fully realized the polarities of American experience--between action and reflection, self-reliance and community, unity and diversity, idealism and materialism, past and future.... In doing so, he tried to forge a new identity for the new representative American--serene, self-confident, democratic, progressive and pluralistic." --St. Petersburg Times