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Ever-Evolving Emerson: The Complex Humanity of an American Icon

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, April 2, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1T0001
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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More than two centuries after his birth, Ralph Waldo Emerson remains one of the presiding spirits in American culture. Yet until now his reputation as the prophet of self-reliance has obscured a complicated figure—one who spent a lifetime wrestling with injustice, philosophy, art, desire, and suffering. Emersonian lecturer, editor, and translator James Marcus pieces together a new portrait of Emerson’s life. Using landmark essays such as “Self-Reliance,” “Experience,” and “Circles,” Marcus reveals an eerily modern persona of rebel, lover, friend, husband, and father.

Drawing from his new book, Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Marcus explores the many ways in which Emerson shares our preoccupations with fate and freedom, race and inequality, love, and grief. He illustrates how Emerson’s desire to see the world afresh, rather than to accept the consensus view, is a lesson that never grows old.

Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Princeton University Press) is available for purchase. 

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