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~Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality," , 1876


It is the little writer rather than the great writer who seems never to quote, and the reason is that he is never really doing anything else.

Some listed here may now be out of print or unavailable. (Sacks)

Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance" is often the first or only exposure students get to Emerson's thought. Here are some resources to help understand this essay:

An essay introducing the background and context of Transcendentalism, for help in understanding where Emerson's ideas came from.
From Emerson himself, with some dictionary and other simple definitions listed as well.
Basic information on Transcendentalism - links to the two items above plus more.
- HTML searchable copy of the text at

Ann Woodlief's excellent introduction to the Emerson essay, Self-Reliance.
An article by Alfred I.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson,

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Wikipedia

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Art"An anthology of quotations is a museum of utterances.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality," , 1876


It sometimes happens at the end of a dinner, when jokes and walnuts are cracked together, that the paternity of some trite quotation is put in question, and at once the wit of the whole company is set wool-gathering.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality," , 1876


For I often please myself with the fancy, now that I may have saved from oblivion the only striking passage in a whole volume, and now that I may have attracted notice to a writer undeservedly forgotten.

Self-Reliance - Understanding the Essay - …

Looks at the problem of selfhood in Emerson's essay and relates that to relevance today, especially in religious belief in our increasingly-secular age.
A short essay, some selections from the essay, and some excellent questions for thinking about Emerson's ideas.
A short introduction to American culture about 1841, looking at Emerson's essay and its relationship to ideas of democracy, culture and the masses.
A Unitarian Universalist minister muses about the position of Emerson in that faith today, where he's often considered a "prophet of religious liberalism." - about the book and its author

- by Bryan Caplan - Kristen Rosenfeld - Piper S.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson,

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality," , 1876


[W]hen I hear or read a good line I can hardly wait to tell it to somebody else...

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Ralph Waldo Emerson-- Works - Virginia …


Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that an appreciation of its vast ..

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, c.1867


A well arranged scrapbook, filled with choice selections, is a most excellent companion for anyone who has the least literary taste.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - EMERSON - ESSAYS - NATURE …

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality"


If you would the truth oppose
By quotations, you will find
Plenty; but, when all is done,
Though they're many, truth is one.
~Tomas de Iriarte, , translated from Spanish


Unless created as freestanding works, quotations resemble "found" art.

Download Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays Audiobook …

slaveholder were in stark contrast. But certainly, Emerson's later writing was more interested in relationships among people, and ethical behavior, than early works like "Self-Reliance" may indicate. Nevertheless, the worldview expressed in "Self-Reliance" is not, I would contend, one of radical separation of the individual from the rest of the universe, though Emerson has sometimes been accused of that view.

Ralph waldo emerson nature and selected essays pdf

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality," , 1876


I said that I loved the wise proverb,
Brief, simple and deep;
For it I'd exchange the great poem
That sends us to sleep.
~Bryan Waller Procter


Who knows but that all the men to whom reference has been made, and a multitude of others who lived in by-gone ages borrowed their wise sayings from the talk of the firesides and the conversations of the market places; so that the origin of many proverbs now flippantly quoted in the converse of men is lost in the mists of forgotten centuries.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays, Lectures and …

I never like my own until he adopts them." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality"


Whatever we think and say is wonderfully better for our spirits and trust in another mouth.

Nature and Selected Essays by Emerson, Ralph Waldo

Emerson's essay urges us to take our ideas seriously, not lightly. Does your idea resonate with your innermost voice of reason and conscience? It's worth thinking about these quotes.

Nature and Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson - …

~William Mathews, "Self-Reliance," , 1873


As the highly colored birds do not fly around in the dull, leaden plains of a sandy desert, but amid all the settings of nature's leaves and blossoms, and lights and shades—nature's framework of their picture—so there are truths which do not appear well in arid fields of philosophic inquiry, but which demand the colored air and the bowers of poetry to be the setting of their charms.

Emerson nature and selected essays

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Plato; Or, The Philosopher"


as Juvenal says: , and away went Lord Vincent, half forgetting all his late anxiety for my life, in his paternal pleasure for the delivery of his quotation.

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