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Emerson and Thoreau are the most celebrated odd couple of nineteenth-century American literature. Appearing to play the roles of benign mentor and eager disciple, they can also be seen as bitter rivals: America's foremost literary statesman, protective of his reputation, and an ambitious and sometimes refractory protege. The truth, Joel Porte maintains, is that Emerson and Thoreau were complementary literary geniuses, mutually inspiring and inspired. In this book of essays, Porte focuses on Emerson and Thoreau as writers. He traces their individual achievements and their points of intersection, arguing that both men, starting from a shared belief in the importance of "self-culture," produced a body of writing that helped move a decidedly provincial New England readership into the broader arena of international culture. It is a book that will appeal to all readers interested in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau.
Yale University Press
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