Book Review: American Transcendentalism

American Transcendentalism

A History

By Philip F. Gura

Copyright 2007

BR17735 4 volumes

They called themselves “The club of the like-minded”. Yet no two of them thought alike

They turned inward in search of self culture, and threatened to turn the world upside down with their ideas.

They were Emerson and Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Peabody and Eliza Clapp, Orestes Brownson and Theodore Parker–just to name a few.

They worked on behalf of labor, education, and prison reform. They championed women’s rights , Native American’s rights and some of them risked their own liberty hoping to abolish the “peculiar institution” of slavery.

And between 1820 and 1850 it was their intellectual sparks which set New England ablaze with fresh and expansive religious ideas as Unitarians penned and preached the New Thought. What role, they asked, does individual conscience play in spiritual exercise? What is mankind’s relationship with Nature? And most vital to every generation, is the unity of humanity possible?

Intense and informative, moving and historically rich, Gura’s account traces the development of American Transcendentalism from its religious and philosophical roots, to reveal the very foundations of modern American thought–for better and for worse.

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