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“I do not wish to treat friendships daintily but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass beads or frost-work but the solidest thing we know....” is how Ralph Waldo Emerson saw the ties of friendship in one of his essays titled Friendship, more than a hundred years ago. This and other interesting essays are included in Essays First Series by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the distinguished American philosopher and writer. Apart from writing, he was also a very gifted and popular public speaker who toured the length and breadth of the country sharing his ideas with the larger public. A distinguishing feature of Emerson's work in both lectures and writings was that he initially focused on religious and spiritual matters like many of his contemporaries, but in time, he moved away from such a narrow range and deepened and broadened the nature of his ideas. His friends included Thoreau, Oliver Wendell Holmes and through his works, he extended his influence to many thinkers, including those as widely different as Nietzsche and William James (who was also his godson.) His ideas were considered quite innovative and radical for the time. He was a staunch believer in individual freedom and equality of the races. As a strong supporter of abolitionism, he believed that slavery was a prime example of human injustice. Known as the “Concord Sage” Emerson's thoughts influenced the politics and thinking of the age. His essays were almost all written for the lecture format initially and their almost conversational style makes them very readable. These essays cover a range of subjects including Prudence, Self-Reliance, Heroism, Art, Spiritual Laws, History and a host of other interesting topics. Today the art of essay-writing and reading has almost disappeared and Essays First Series written by a master of the form can indeed provide hours of thought-provoking and deeply philosophical reading.
The most wonderful book I ever came across, readers were good too.
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