Date of this Version
Documentary Editing: Journal of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 32: 2011 ISSN 0196-7134
The recent publication by Harvard University Press of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Letters and Social Aims, Volume VIII of the Collected Works, is in many ways the most important contribution of this ongoing project, which presents scholarly editions of one of America’s most central literary and philosophical figures. Among all of Emerson’s books, Letters and Social Aims is without a doubt the most vexed in terms of textual questions, coming as it did so late in his life and at the dimming of his powers. However, the volume also represents some of the finest, most necessary thinking of this shaper of American ideas and ideals, reminding us just how crucial it is to have authoritative editions of his entire output in print. To read Emerson closely is to trace the grain of American thought and so it is crucial to have texts that represent those ideas and ideals as authentically as possible.