Emerson and Thoreau

Emerson and Thoreau

Figures of Friendship
Distribution: World
Publication date: 01/04/2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22143-8
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This lively volume explores the theme of friendship in the lives and works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Written from diverse perspectives, the essays offer close readings of selected texts and draw on letters and journals to offer a comprehensive view of how Emerson’s and Thoreau’s friendships took root and bolstered their individual political, social, and ethical projects. This collection explores how Emerson and Thoreau, in their own ways, conceived of friendship as the creation of shared meaning in light of personal differences, tragedy and loss, and changing life circumstances. Emerson and Thoreau presents important reflections on the role of friendship in the lives of individuals and in global culture.

Author Bio

John T. Lysaker is Professor and Head of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. He is author of Emerson and Self-Culture (IUP, 2008).

William Rossi is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in English at the University of Oregon. He is editor of Walden and Resistance to Civil Government and several volumes of Thoreau’s works, including Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings and Journal, volumes 3 and 6.


Addresses an issue—friendship—that is of crucial importance to the ethical and social visions of Emerson and Thoreau.Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalists had a lot more to say about friendship than is generally thought, and this is a good point of departure for these new readings.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations for Emerson, Thoreau, and Carlyle Citations
Introduction / John T. Lysaker and William Rossi
Part 1. Transcendental Contexts
1. Transcendental Friendship: An Oxymoron? / Lawrence Buell
2. Forgiving the Giver: Emerson, Carlyle, Thoreau / Barbara Packer
Part 2. Emerson's "Friendship"
3. "In the Golden Hour of Friendship": Transcendentalism and Utopian Desire / David M. Robinson
4. Emerson and Skepticism: A Reading of "Friendship" / Russell B. Goodman
5. On the Faces of Emersonian "Friendship" / John T. Lysaker
Part 3. Thoreau's Divergent Melodies
6. "In Dreams Awake": Loss, Transcendental Friendship, and Elegy / William Rossi
7. "Let Him Be to Me a Spirit": Paradoxes of True Friendship in Emerson and Thoreau / Alan D. Hodder
Part 4. Giving Friendship for Life
8. Giving Friendship: The Perichoresis of an All-Embracing Service / James Crosswhite
9. Leaving and Bequeathing: Friendship, Moral Perfectionism, and the Gleam of Light / Naoko Saito
Works Cited
List of Contributors

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