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Transcendentalism Is a Literary Movement

Updated September 20, 2022

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Transcendentalism Is a Literary Movement essay

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Transcendentalism was an important movement in literature that occurred during the years of 1836-1860. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were the best-known transcendentalists.

Ralph Waldo Emerson gave the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, the credit for making Transcendentalism a familiar term. Kant had said that there were certain experiences that could be acquired only through intuitions of the mind. In Kants thoughts, transcendentalism was the knowledge or understanding a person gains intuitively. This, for the most part, sums up all of the transcendental writings that have been written to this day.

Both Emerson and Thoreau were very similar in their thoughts on transcendentalism and personalities. Emerson was very strict on his-self and worked to make his writings spiritual. He made it clear that he wanted no followers. Emerson thought that if anyone were to copy his style of writing that the whole purpose would be defeated. He wanted his writings to inspire individuality. Thoreau was rigid and almost military-like.

He cared little for group activities, and avoided organized reform movements. Emerson and Thoreau both wrote about how the world had an influence on their soul. They let the nature around them be their inspiration, and they wrote down the effects it had on them spiritually. Ralph Emerson wrote Nature, an essay about his surroundings, and the effect they had on him. Emerson said, Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me,. This quote came from Nature, which he wrote in 1836.

Henry Thoreau wrote Walden, a book he wrote after keeping a journal about the nature around him while living at Walden Pond for seven years. Both of these works were prime examples of transcendentalism and its ideas and philosophies. After these works were published, writers started interpreting the idea in their own way. Today, we are still seeing the effects of Emerson and Thoreau in poems and other literature. The effect that nature has on us is, now, often a common thought among many of us.

Transcendentalism is something we are well aware of because of Emerson and Thoreau, and their new ideas and theories. I am influenced most by transcendentalism when I sit underneath a clear starry sky on a warm summer evening. When you sit there, you can not help but let your mind wander. You start to realize how small you are compared to the rest of the world. The stars, which are, in reality, large and bright, are only a twinkle in the deep blue sky. While sitting there I take in the peacefulness of the night.

You hear the crickets and other animals of the night and are forced to understand that humans are not alone in the world. We are accompanied everyday by so many other species, yet we do not pay attention to anyone but ourselves. I can also see a whole separate meaning and significance of nature, when I take in everything around me. It is not only our surroundings, but it is much greater.

Nature has been here since the beginning of earth. The true aspects of nature have always been here. It shows what little amount of time we take up on Earth. We are nothing but a tiny dot on a never-ending time line of life.

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Transcendentalism Is a Literary Movement. (2018, Nov 12). Retrieved from