From the front Cover
The definitive collection of Emerson's major speeches, essays, and poetry, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson chronicles the life's work of a true American Scholar. As one of the architects of the transcendentalist movement, Emerson embraced a philosophy that championed the individual, emphasized independent thought, and prized the splendid labyrinth of one's own perceptions. More than any writer of his time, he forged a style distinct from his European predecessors and embodied and defined what it meant to be an American. Matthew Arnold called Emerson's essays the most important work done in prose.