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The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume V, English Traits

The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume V, English Traits (Hardcover) by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author), Robert E. Burkholder (Editor), Douglas Emory Wilson (Editor), Philip Nicoloff (Introduction)

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Summary

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Emerson traveled broadly in England and Scotland in 1833 and again on lecture tour fifteen years later. Drawing on his experiences there as well as his wide reading in British history, he set forth in English Traits his view of the English as a nation. Published in 1856, this was one of his most popular books, perhaps because of its playfulness and wit and clarity of style.

English Traits is a searching and distinctive portrayal of English culture that today offers a revealing perspective on American viewpoints and preoccupations in the mid-nineteenth century. It is notable, too, for revealing an interesting side of Emerson's complex character; here we find Emerson the practical Yankee, analyzing English power, resourcefulness, determination, and materialism.

In his historical introduction to this fullscale critical edition, Philip Nicoloff places English Traits in the context of Emerson's career and travels, and discusses the book's contemporary reception. Robert Burkholder provides a treasury of helpful information in his explanatory notes. This is the definitive scholarly edition of English Traits.

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Meanwhile, click here for a contemporary review from the November 1856 issue of the New Englander and Yale Review.


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