Self Reliance (1)

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Self-Reliance and Other Essays (Dover, 1993) If these are Emerson’s best essays, then we’re in trouble. To call them rambling would be to insult those mass murderers who are little more than rank amateurs when it comes to true rambling. Emerson could not maintain a coherent thought from the beginning of a sentence to the end. It’s amazing that Nietzsche could be inspired by the concept of self-reliance to the extent that he would allow Emerson to be the philosopher with whom he agreed the most. Occasionally a shadow of an actual point - sometimes interesting, sometimes over a century later a bit trite - seems to swim to the surface. But we have to deal with Emerson's terrible prose to tease it out. Is it worth the effort? Reading 19th century American preacher prose is like trying to digest one of those English pub meals while your stomach feels like it’s bolted to the floor.