Publisher description for Consciousness and culture : Emerson and Thoreau reviewed / Joel Porte.


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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.

Porte's essays are like Thoreau's sauntering, invitations to follow an acute and learned mind to places you would not have visited without such a guide."-Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina



Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882 Criticism and interpretation, Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862 Criticism and interpretation, National characteristics, American, in literature, New England Intellectual life 19th century, Consciousness in literature, Culture in literature