The Conduct of Life. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The Conduct of Life
The Conduct of Life
The Conduct of Life
The Conduct of Life
The Conduct of Life

The Conduct of Life

Boston, MA: Ticknor & Fields, 1860. First Edition. Hardcover. Confusingly, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1860 release “The Conduct of Life” has been named among his best works as frequently as it has been named among his worst. Celebrated Transcendentalist scholars such as Robert D. Richardson have been less enthusiastic, while the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche identified it as a profound source of influence on his own thought. Emerson’s close friend Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish-English madman-satirist responsible for 1834’s “Sartor Resartus” called it “…the writer’s best book.” It was one of Emerson’s most successful publications, but this has every bit as much to do with his stately, international recognition as an American Man of Letters as it does the actual content of the work. A contemporary press release issued at the time of publication described it as the “matured philosophy of the transatlantic sage,” and New York’s famed magazine “The Knickerbocker” called it “the most practical of Emerson’s works.” The key words here are “matured” and “practical.” Whether conscious of the phenomenon or not, Mr. “Trust Thyself” RWE devoted one essay per collection to the topic of “doubt,” or struggle with belief more generally. Emerson risks abandoning the roused readers of his earlier collections by beginning “The Conduct of Life” with such an essay, titled “Fate.” This is, in this writer’s opinion, what threw off so many of his devotees yet endeared him to those not so easily given to fits of frenetic beatitude. This is not to say that Emerson disavows or disregards his core tenets; in the essay titled “Considerations by the Way,” Emerson rightly asserts that Individualism is crucial to intellectual and historical achievements. He reminds his readers that Self-Reliance is not just the brash, bald refusal to incursions on one’s social or intellectual liberty for its own sake; you have to live a healthy life and be productive, too. A Beat-&-Beyonder such as this writer is reminded of Allen Ginsberg’s admonition to the unfocused energies of the Punk Movement in “Punk Rock You’re My Big Crybaby.” It’s not enough to just “resist;” or, as a journalist in Fraser’s Magazine wrote when summarizing Emerson’s thought in July of 1868, “…aspiration and thought became clear and real only by action and life.” Here is a list of the essays in the order they appear: “Fate,” “Power,” “Wealth,” “Culture,” “Behavior,” “Worship,” “Considerations by the Way,” “Beauty,” and “Illusions.” The book quickly ran through several editions in the U.S. (Ticknor & Fields announced a third edition a mere week after it was published) and our research indicates that this copy is a First Edition, First Printing with the 16 pp. of ads at the book’s end dated December, 1860—making this the most desirable edition of a late-period classic from RWE. Book in near-fine condition with slight cracking, chipping to spine inc. at fine-edges; minute rubbing, scuffing to front, back covers; minor bumping, chipping to corners of same; single, tiny spot of what appears to be a black felt-pen ink mark present at front cover slightly to the left of and below; center-middle; typical foxing, browning to text block; pencil marks at FFEP [see pictures]. All in all, in impressive shape for a book that’s 161 years young, and a must for the serious Emerson reader and collector. Near Fine. [Item #4459]

Price: $150.00

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