Transcendentalism was the name given to the New England movement of the 1830s and 1840s that brought together Romanticism in literature and social reform in politics. Its partisans argued for the rights of women, the abolition of slavery, and, in some cases, the socialization of labor and equal distribution of profits. They were America’s first avant-garde.
This volume presents substantial selections from the writings of key American Transcendentalists, such as George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, Theodore Parker, and Bronson Alcott. Included are sermons and diary entries, essays on labor, religion, education, and literature, on German metaphysics and Coleridge’s philosophy of mind. Many are expressive of the movement’s over-arching project: to define the innermost meanings of democracy—the nature of man, his place in the world, and his relation to the divine. First published in 1966, the book has been updated and expanded for this edition.
"Hochfield’s anthology selects fine and representative specimens not only from the front rank of the transcendentalist movement but also from its inspirational teachers and scholarly day-laborers. It is an enjoyable book to read around in, and instructive in ways that grow on acquaintance."—David Bromwich, Yale University
“A valuable gathering of classic statements and out-of-the-way pieces. Lively and informative.”—Michael T. Gilmore, Brandeis University