Emerson the man & thinker will be fully revealed for the first time in this new edition of his journals & notebooks. The old image of the ideal 19th-century gentleman, created by editorial omissions of his spontaneous thoughts, is replaced by the picture of Emerson as he really was. His frank & often bitter criticisms of men & society, his "nihilizing," his anguish at the death of his first wife, his bleak struggles with depression & loneliness, his sardonic views of woman, his earthy humor, his ideas of the Negro, of religion, of God--these & other expressions of his private thought & feeling, formerly deleted or subdued, are here restored. Restored also is the full evidence needed for studies of his habits of composition, the development of his style & the sources of his ideas. Cancelled passages are reproduced, misreadings are corrected & hitherto unpublished manuscripts are now printed. The text comes as close to a literal transcription as is feasible. A full apparatus of annotation, identification of quotations & textual notes is supplied. Reproduced in this volume are twelve facsimile manuscript pages, many with his marginal drawings.
The first volume includes some of the "Wide Worlds," journals begun while Emerson was at Harvard, & four contemporary notebooks, mostly unpublished. In these storehouses of quotation, juvenile verse, themes & stories are the first versions of his "Valedictory Poem," Bowdoin Prize Essays & first published work. Together they give a faithful picture of his apprenticeship as an artist & reveal the extent of his hidden & frustrated ambition--to become a writer.