The Essential Transcendentalists

The Essential Transcendentalist, Edited and introduced by Richard G. Geldard

The Essential Transcendentalists

Edited and Introduced by Richard G. Geldard

“As thinkers, mankind have ever divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists . . . What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us, is Idealism; Idealism as it appears in 1842.”

Few have captured the spiritual essence of Ralph Waldo Emerson and New England Transcendentalism with the same searing insight as that of Richard Geldard. One closes his books with a strong sense that both the man and the movement, as complex as they were, were in the end about spirit, about the life of the soul. In The Essential Transcendentalists Geldard provides a clear and concise view of Transcendentalism, its primary proponents and core ideas, condensing for the reader his own deep understanding of Transcendentalism as a spiritual quest.

As Geldard opens, “Those who seek to uncover the mysteries of the truth of reality may not appear to be a rare, lonely breed, but those who devote their lives to the single-minded pursuit of such mysteries certainly are.” This is who the New England Transcendentalists were. They were among those rare creatures, in any age, whose search for truth and for meaning and purpose in life consumes their every thought.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, A. Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller – these are the most well-known of the early Americans who rejected the well-worn paths of others and embarked upon their own tireless pursuits of truth. They continually examined the fundamental questions of human life at the same time they fully embraced the unknowable. Above all, they believed in the God-given capacity within every human soul for direct access to universal truths and communion with the Divine.

Transcendentalism, as Geldard explains, is not a system of belief but rather a reliance on one’s own inner inquiry and on intuition as the ultimate guide. At its core is the conviction that the truth of reality has nothing to do with the material world. The unanswerable questions, the Transcendentalists believed, invariably lead us into the spiritual, to the life they viewed as our true life.

The Essential Transcendentalists does indeed give the essentials of American Transcendentalism, from its beginnings in the Eastern and European thought consumed by Emerson, Alcott, Thoreau and Fuller, through its height in Concord, Massachusetts in the mid-1800’s, to its continuing presence in the U.S. in the literature of gifted poets and in the private souls of individual seekers. This book is a must for anyone wishing to go straight to the heart of the movement known as American Transcendentalism.

The Gleam of Light Team

The Essential Transcendentalists
Edited and Introduced by Richard G. Geldard
2005, Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Penguin

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