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Mr. Emerson's Revolution

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Jean McClure Mudge

Emerson in the West and East

6.1 Europe in Emerson and Emerson in Europe

Beniamino Soressi

Texte intégral

A subtle chain of countless rings
The next unto the farthest brings;
The eye reads omens where it goes,
And speaks all languages the rose;
And, striving to be man, the worm
Mounts through all the spires of form.
Emerson, “Nature,” 1836

  • 1 The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, eds. Robert E. Spiller, et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: The B (...)

1Emerson’s phrase, “a subtle chain of countless rings,” metaphorically suits this subject: the mutual influence of the West on Emerson and of Emerson on the West. These “rings” of influence indeed make up “a subtle chain,” seemingly impossible to track, especially when generated by a variety of secondary sources. Nevertheless, its larger links may be identified, first with a brief overview of Emerson’s debt to the West, then with a longer look at his effect upon well-known writers and political thinkers in South and Central America, England, and the Continent. In his fifties, Emerson noted, “... we go to Europe to be Americanized.”1 The Old World, he had long realized, would be reflected in any definition of the New.

2Central to all these mutual influences was a call to change in thought and in social reform by both idea and example. Unfortunately in Germany, Nietzsche misused central Emersonian ideas, which Hitler and the Nazis then further perverted. In Italy, the poet-politician D’Annunzio and Mussolini were closer to Emerson’s texts per se, yet similarly corrupted his original intent. Fortunately, in other countries, especially France and England, he had more accurate adherents — from Baudelaire to Camus, George Eliot to Kipling. Through such widely read writers, Emerson energized the West’s general impulse toward adopting more democratic values.

3A convenient starting place for a brief overview of Emerson’s indebtedness to the West is his choice of six figures from European culture in his book Representative Men (1850).

6.1 Plato, copy Silanion portrait, c. 370 B. C. E.

6.2 Emanuel Swedenborg, before 1818.

6.3 Michel de Montaigne, [n. d.].

6.4 William Shakespeare at 46, 1610.

4He first featured Plato, the 5th-4th century B. C. Greek philosopher and classical advocate of idealism, who postulated a pristine unseen realm of ideas as a model for their imperfect reflection in this rough real world. He also wished to celebrate Plato’s tolerance of unsystematic thinking, his own mental habit. Emerson thus revealed an unstated pattern in his selections: These great men exhibited interests and abilities that he either shared already or that he admired and adopted as his own.

5This was true of his second subject Swedenborg (1688-1772), the Swedish scientist, religious philosopher, and mystic who appealed to Emerson for his theories of correspondence and for distinctively uniting science with mysticism, another one of Emerson’s goals (see Chapter 4). The French essayist Montaigne (1533-1592), Emerson’s third figure, complemented Swedenborg with his radical, frank, but balanced skepticism, halfway between idealism and empiricism, a position that by 1844, Emerson had also announced as his own. For his fourth subject, Emerson chose Shakespeare (1564-1616), a close reader of Montaigne, as the poet-dramatist par excellence for his penetrating eye and idiosyncratic creativity. Napoleon (1769-1821), the Corsican commoner who had become a great soldier-statesman, although cynical and egotistic, earned Emerson’s praise for his absolute and practical self-confidence. Finally, Goethe (1749-1832), the poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist, epitomized the universally talented, all-encompassing writer.

6.5 Napolean Bonaparte at 43, 1812.

6.6 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at 79, 1828.

  • 2 P. S. Field, Ralph Waldo Emerson (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 61.

6Of these six, by time and personal connection, Emerson was closest to Napoleon, champion of European political revolution, and to Goethe, generator of the Continent’s Transcendentalism, the Romantics’ revolt against the Enlightenment’s strict rationalism. In 1826, he had met Napoleon’s nephew, Achille Murat, in Charleston, South Carolina. Two years before, Emerson’s brother William had privately seen Goethe at his house in Weimar.2

7Besides Plato, other classic Greek and Roman authors familiar to him from school and college helped to shape Emerson’s early thinking. Heraclitus’ sense of nature as an ever-flowing and changing river fed Emerson’s view of a world of constant process and potential paradox. But equally influential was Parmenides’ view of reality as a static, hard material sphere, eternally filling all space (the One). Such a notion supported Emerson’s idea of an immutable unity at nature’s core. He was intrigued, too, by the later neo-Platonists Plotinus and Proclus, who refined and synthesized these two images. Plotinus advanced an early theory of signs as well as the idea that Parmenides’ One, emanating into ordinary things, reflected its perfection there. Proclus united old and new ideal views of the cosmos with pagan theological imagery. On a more immediate note, the Stoics Seneca and Marcus Aurelius complemented the Bible in instructing Emerson on how to deal with hardship. And Plutarch, model enough as a moral essayist, also taught Emerson to see history through the lens of biography.

  • 3 CW 3: 21.
  • 4 The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 16 vols., eds. William H. Gilman, (...)

8Among later authors, in his essay “The Poet,” Emerson praised Dante whose La vita nuova (The New Life, 1295) showed him “dar [ing] to write his autobiography in colossal cipher, or into universality.”3 It seemed to him “the Bible of Love... as if written before literature, whilst truth yet existed....”4

9Boehme’s Aurora Consurgens (Dawn, The Dayspring, 1612) impressed Emerson with the possibility of achieving a natural and radically individual spiritual philosophy without any formal education. And on his aesthetic side, he admired Michelangelo’s fearless, bold translations of inner torment into immediate brushworks and Promethean chisel strokes. As a model for his own ambitions, Emerson applauded Francis Bacon’s tireless search for power through knowledge. In contrast, Hume’s radical empiricism and his anti-causation theory chafed against Emerson’s life-long belief in “soul,” with its free will, and in causation as a natural law. For a time, he found some comfort in the Scottish School of Common Sense adopted by Unitarianism, but rejected its pure rationality as he moved toward a Transcendentalism of the heart. Electrified by the grandly beautiful cosmologies of the scientists Herschel and Humboldt, Emerson played them against Milton’s universal drama of humanity’s fall.

6.7 Dante Alighieri, after 1841.

  • 5 CW 10: 113, 247.

10Emerson’s sensitivities naturally drew him to the Old World’s Romantics: from the young German writer Novalis, for exalting the synergies of poetry and philosophy, to Hegel, for his extreme idealism and belief in the generative force of Geist, or spirit. Schleiermacher’s individualistic interpretations naturally appealed to him. So, too, did J. G. Herder’s anthropocentrism and his view of man as an animal able to compensate for a loss of instinct by acquiring art and technology. In his essays “Thoughts on Modern Literature” and “Europe and European Books,” Emerson found that Wordsworth’s “wisdom of humanity” and his “just moral perception”5 spoke to the essential, as did the English poet’s sense of the “elemental” correspondences between nature, mind, life, and immortality. On a practical note, the iron determinism of the Belgian Adolphe Quételet’s social statistics appealed to Emerson, as did the quirky wealth of W. S. Landor’s Imaginary Conversations. More significantly, as seen in Chapter 1, he was early on attracted to Coleridge’s literary criticism and poetry as well as to his fragments of 1834 and 1836. Altogether, these works enhanced Emerson’s understanding of familiar classical figures, and, for the first time, introduced him to Spinoza and more contemporary German Romantic philosophers, especially Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. Complementing these thinkers, the startlingly fresh power of the French women novelists Mme. de Staël and George Sand showed Emerson a distinctive female perspective on manners and the art of conversation.

  • 6 R. W. Emerson, 12 March 1833, journal entry, Emerson in His Journals, ed. Joel Porte (Cambridge, Ma (...)
  • 7 “The Fortune of the Republic,” Emerson’s Antislavery Writings, eds. Len Gougeon and Joel Myerson (N (...)
  • 8 CW 6: 77.

11From this rich European legacy, Emerson built his own approach to pursuing the truth and transformed the whole into his “new thinking.” For the most part, he had a positive, receptive view of Europe’s immense cultural and economic heritage. But early and often, as in “Friendship,” he came to warn against the tyranny of antique ideas, the Old World’s actual or virtually “dead persons,”6 and its corrupting luxuries.7 One of the first steps in Emerson’s revolution was to try to end America’s depressing nostalgia for England and Europe, a national “tape-worm,” he came to call it in “Culture,” eating away one’s mind.8 By proclaiming the authority and trustworthiness of each individual, as guided by a universal Over-Soul, he hoped that the passion for developing one’s potential “genius” would spread first in families and communities, then to the whole country. For Western intellectuals, this new faith in the infinite capacity of the single soul marked Emerson’s most visible, radical difference from past thinking. Previously unrecognized as Emerson followers, certain Hispanic writers in the New World deserve first mention.

Emerson in Latin America

12Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), the Argentine poet, critic, and short-story writer, notably represents those Americans outside the United States who clearly caught Emerson’s infectious message.

6.8 Jorge Luis Borges at 77, 1976.

  • 9 A. Barnechea, Peregrinos de la lengua (Madrid: Alfaguara, 1997), 39.
  • 10 J. L. Borges, W. Barnstone, Borges at Eighty: Conversations (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Pr (...)
  • 11 “The Other Death” (1949), in The Aleph (New York: Penguin, 1949), 58.
  • 12 This preference was despite his admiration of “The Poet,” knowledge of little-known essays, and hav (...)
  • 13 J. L. Borges and O. Ferrari, En diálogo (Mexico [sic]: Siglo XXI, 2005), 141-42, 213.
  • 14 S. Rodman, J. L. Borges, Tongues of Fallen Angels (New York: New Directions, 1974), 14.
  • 15 J. L. Borges and O. Ferrari, En diálogo, 136.
  • 16 Ibid., 141.
  • 17 Ibid., 213.
  • 18 J. L. Borges, Other Inquisitions, trans. by R. L. C. Simms (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, (...)

13Borges’ devotion to Emerson, both thoroughgoing and lifelong, led him to state, “Yo tengo el culto de Emerson” (“I’ve made a cult of Emerson”).9 In his short story, “La otra muerte” (“The Other Death,” 1949), Borges openly preferred Emerson, the “great poet,”10 to Poe,11 and even ranked Emerson’s poetry above his essays.12 Elsewhere Borges celebrated Emerson’s verse as “spontaneously original,” unique but never deliberately transgressing accepted poetic convention.13 (In contrast, Whitman “tries too hard.”)14 For Borges, Emerson’s “tranquil felicity” made him “the most elevated intellectual poet,” one who produced “very interesting ideas.”15 Nor did Emerson’s famous aloofness diminish Borges’ empathy, noting, “If a poet writes in a reserved way, he is expressing himself.”16 Emerson’s poems were for Borges “engraved” or “sculpted,” yet not so much visual and spatial as musical and temporal, “renewing the past each time he remembered it.”17 In his poem, “Emerson,” Borges echoed Emerson’s vision in “Days” of a coming better humanity (“Quisiera ser otro hombre”). Of all the poems, Borges favored “History,” “The Past,” (which he translated), and in particular “Brahma.” This last he thought very “clean” in delineating identity, quoting the line: “When me they fly, I am the wings.”18

  • 19 Ibid., 10.
  • 20 Recorded and quoted by R. J. Christ, The Narrow Act (New York: Lumen Books, 1995), 45-46.

14Emerson’s ideas took root in many themes that Borges later explored: the pervasiveness of illusions and dreams; the varieties of time-perception, identity and otherness; the identification of “I” and the Eye; and the interconnections between the micro-and macro-worlds. He found especially appealing Emerson’s notion in “Nominalist and Realist” that all works are inspired by, and emanate from, one impersonal writer.19 In 1967, Borges stated: “I think that Emerson is a finer writer and a finer thinker than Nietzsche.”20 At a time when Europe’s literary and philosophical circles were attempting a “Nietzsche Renaissance,” to retrieve him from his ignominious association with the Nazis (of which more below), Borges’ statement was audaciously bold.

15Until his last days, Borges held Emerson in the highest regard. Blind and losing his memory, he wrote, “Elogio de la sombra” (“In Praise of Darkness,” 1969), a poem recalling Emerson’s “Illusions.” In it, he lists greatly cherished things he knows he will forget; among them, Emerson is the single literary name. In the winter of 1962, Borges had visited Emerson’s house, an experience reflected in both the line in “Elogio,” “Emerson and the snow and many things,” and in another work, “Poema de la Cantidad” (“Poem of Quantity,” 1970): “solitary and lost lights/which Emerson would have admired so many nights/from the snows and the rigors of Concord.”

16Well before Borges, José Martí (1853-1895), Cuba’s late-nineteenth-century poet, journalist, and revolutionary, had taken Emerson’s model of the active reformer more to heart than the Argentinian.

6.9 José Martí at 41, 1894.

  • 21 José Martí, Obras Completas (La Habana: Editorial Nacional de Cuba, 1964), 13: 18-23, 30.

17At eighteen, during Cuba’s first attempt to throw off Spanish rule in the Ten Years’War, Martí was imprisoned for six months for denouncing a pro-Spanish high school classmate. Afterward, he studied in Spain, then left for Mexico, and, for a time, taught in Guatemala. Moving to New York City, he reported on the U. S. for a wide readership in Hispanic America. Fascinated by America’s model, he excitedly introduced his audiences to Emerson, whose Nature and Representative Men were his favorite works. In 1882, just three weeks after his hero’s death, Martí wrote a radiant hagiographic essay, “Emerson,” in which each of his encomiums competes with the next, together creating a myth — eventually widespread – of an Emerson “who found himself alive, and shook from his shoulders and his eyes all the mantles and blindfolds that the past casts over men.” “His mind was priestly; his tenderness, angelic; his wrath, sacred. When he saw enslaved men, and thought of them, he spoke as if, at the foot of a new biblical mountain, the Tablets of the Law were once again being smashed. His anger was Mosaic.” Martí’s unrelieved praise exceeds any evaluation of Emerson, then or since.21

18In additional appreciation, he translated Emerson’s poem “Good-Bye, Proud World.” Two of Martí’s own poems include Emerson in their titles: “Cada uno a su oficio. Fábula nueva del filósofo norteamericano Emerson” (“Each to His Own Work,” 1889), and an undated long poem, simply titled, “Emerson.” The latter focused on a mood of “Panic”: “Nobody hinders his will/And lands and waters/Are atoms of his brilliant body/Which obey his invincible will.” A similar exuberance fed Martí’s continuing protest against Spanish rule in Cuba. In 1892, he started the Cuban Revolutionary Party, and three years later, returning to the island to help lead its second struggle for independence, was almost immediately killed in battle. Nevertheless, Martí became an “Apostle of Independence” in his country. Eventually, though Emerson was decidedly not a socialist, his work came to inspire Fidel Castro through Martí’s example.22

Emerson in England and Scotland

19In his lifetime, Emerson made three trips to England and Europe. On his first trip (1832-1833), he was only twenty-nine and unknown, yet succeeded in meeting four leading writers. Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Landor represented an older, already distinguished generation.

6.10 William Wordsworth at 69, 1839.

  • 23 J. S. Mill, August 2, 1833, in The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill 1812-1848 (Toronto and Londo (...)
  • 24 Jane W. Carlyle to Emerson, November 7, 1838, The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo (...)

20But the rising Scottish historian and social critic, Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), was only eight years Emerson’s senior. Carlyle’s friend John Stuart Mill had warned him in advance, “From one or two conversations I have had with [Emerson] I do not think him a very hopeful subject.”23 But Carlyle and his wife Jane gave Emerson a warm welcome. Jane remembered the visitor who “in the Desert [of rural Scotland], descended on us, out of the clouds as it were, and made one day there look like enchantment for us, and left me weeping that it was only one day.”24 In turn, Emerson liked Carlyle’s frank simplicity. Their ensuing letters for a time document an intensely appreciative exchange. Each served the other as literary critic, agent, and press officer in their respective countries. Later, they would maintain their ties but differ over social issues, especially slavery in America.

  • 25 T. Carlyle to Emerson, Feb. 13, 1837, CCE 1: 112.
  • 26 T. Carlyle to Emerson, Dec. 8, 1837, CCE 1: 142.
  • 27 Ibid.

21Most importantly, Carlyle uniquely strengthened Emerson’s sense of his own powers. Nature, the Scot said, gave him “true satisfaction.” He correctly noted it as “the Foundation and Ground-plan” of Emerson’s work.25 Of “The American Scholar” (1837), he said, “I could have wept to read that speech; the clear high melody of it went tingling through my heart.” Carlyle, a clergyman’s son like Emerson, blessed his friend’s debut: “May God grant you strength; for you have a fearful work to do! Fearful I call it; and yet it is great, and the greatest.”26 In the same breath, he demanded that his friend practice patient self-reliance: “Do not hasten to write; you cannot be too slow about it. Give no ear to any man’s praise or censure.”27

6.11 Thomas Carlyle in his 60s, c. 1860s.

  • 28 H. Martineau, Retrospect of Western Travel (London: Saunders & Otley, 1838), 203-04. Martineau’s Re (...)

22Carlyle sent Emerson’s lectures and books to friends in England and Europe, and forwarded their reactions back to Emerson in Concord. As early as 1838, he wrote of the favorable opinion of Harriet Martineau, the English feminist and social observer. She had met Emerson during her two-year tour of America in 1834-1836. In her Retrospect of Western Travel (1838), she was one of the first foreigners to publicize Emerson’s representativeness as an American as well as his special gifts: “There is a remarkable man in the United States, without knowing whom it is not too much to say that the United States cannot be fully known.... [He] is yet in the prime of life. Great things are expected from him, and great things, it seems, he cannot but do.... He is a thinker without being solitary, abstracted, and unfitted for the time. He is a scholar without being narrow, bookish, and prone to occupy himself only with other men’s thoughts.” Martineau went further, praising Emerson for neglecting “no political duty,” for being “ready at every call to action.”28 At this early date, such a description of Emerson’s activist side by a foreigner was clearly both remarkable and prescient. Perhaps exaggerated, it nonetheless came six years before his 1844 Concord abolitionist speech showed his true colors to family and friends.

  • 29 T. Carlyle to Emerson, February 8, 1839, CCE 1: 217.

23Before Emerson’s lectures appeared as essays and his reputation grew, Carlyle’s personal advice vitally encouraged him. His Scottish friend judged him to be producing “a sort of speech which is itself action, an artistic sort.” He had glimpsed Emerson’s gift to create words that breathed. Wishing him to sharpen this talent, he exhorted, “You tell us with piercing emphasis that man’s soul is great; show us a great soul of a man, in some work symbolic of such: this is the seal of such a message, and you will feel by and by that you are called to this. I long to see some concrete Thing, some Event, Man’s Life, American Forest, or piece of Creation, which this Emerson loves and wonders at, well Emersonized, depictured by Emerson, filled with the life of Emerson, and cast forth from him then to live by itself.”29 Carlyle was virtually defining Emerson’s true vocation and also, like Martineau, predicting his entry into social reform.

  • 30 T. Carlyle to Emerson, May 8, 1841, CCE 1: 352.
  • 31 T. Carlyle to John Sterling, December 18, 1841, The New England Transcendentalists and the Dial, ed (...)

24When Emerson’s Essays I appeared in 1841, Carlyle welcomed them as the only true, alive sensibility that responded intelligently to his own. Emerson’s was “a voice of the heart of Nature” that, although too imperfect to express the infinitude, was itself “an Infinitude.”30 Carlyle positively described his friend’s ethereal words as “light−rays darting upwards in the East,” the promises of a “new era.” Nevertheless, shortly after The Dial appeared that same year, Carlyle found it “shrill, incorporeal, spirit-like.”31 Despite his own lapses from the concrete, this historian-philosopher always disliked whatever in Emerson he found excessively abstract, and rightly assessed his influence on The Dial, even though at that moment, Margaret Fuller was its editor.

  • 32 JMN 11: 172.

25By his second trip to England and Europe in 1847-1848, Emerson had become a literary star, internationally known as the author of Nature, Essays I and II (1841, 1844), the founder-editor of The Dial (1842-1844), and, in short, the champion of avant-garde American culture. But his “Divinity School Address” (1838), in challenging the need for any clergy to interpret spiritual experience, had spawned fierce theological controversies at home and abroad, leading opponents to call him a corruptor of youth. Also, Emerson’s “Man the Reformer” (1841) had circulated underground in Britain as a little classic of radicalism before his arrival at Liverpool in November 1847. At Mechanics’ Institutes, he addressed huge crowds of aspiring young workers and professionals in industrial cities such as Liverpool and Manchester as well as smaller elite audiences in London. Leading figures, from politicians and aristocrats (Lord Lovelace, Lady Byron, and the man of letters Monckton Milnes) to writers (Thackeray, De Quincey, Leigh Hunt, and Matthew Arnold), all took note of him. In contrast, Emerson was in fundamental disagreement now with Carlyle over a range of economic, political, and social issues. Emerson was dismayed to find his old friend an “epicure in diet” and a “sansculotte-aristocrat,” a “magnificent genius” lost in dogmatism and aimlessness. The two further disagreed about Carlyle’s current hero, Cromwell.32 However, their friendship would continue in an intermittent correspondence all their lives.

  • 33 Eliot to S. Hennell, July 1848, in The George Eliot Letters, ed. Gordon S. Haight (New Haven, CT: Y (...)
  • 34 Eliot to S. Hennell, August 27, 1860, GEL 3: 337.
  • 35 See E. Fontana, “George Eliot’s Romola and Emerson’s ‘The American Scholar,’” ELN, 32, 1995.
  • 36 Eliot to Oscar Browning, May 8, 1870, GEL 5: 93.
  • 37 GEL 6: 327.

26When George Eliot (1819-1880) first met Emerson in June 1848, she was already familiar with his essays. A month later, she extravagantly described him as “the first man I have ever seen.”33 Twelve years later “with venerating gratitude,” she recalled his “mild face, which I daresay is smiling on some one as beneficently as it one day did on me years and years ago.”34 At the same moment, Eliot was appreciating the “fresh beauty and meaning” of “Man the Reformer,” which she had turned to for her “spiritual good.” Despite this appreciation, Eliot rarely noted any indebtedness to Emerson in her own works, except in Romola (1863). In her chapter “The Blind Scholar and his Daughter,” Emerson’s declaration of intellectual independence (“The American Scholar”) transfigures her character’s emancipation.35 However, Eliot’s interest in reading his works continued all her life. His Society and Solitude (1870) gave her “enough gospel to serve one for a year.”36 And on New Year’s Day 1877, anticipating her own death which came three years later, Eliot recalled Emerson’s stirring poem “Days.”37

  • 38 CW 5: 12.
  • 39 Ibid., 166.
  • 40 Wordsworth to H. Reed, August 16, 1841, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth (Oxford: Clar (...)
  • 41 CW 5: 168.

27On this second trip to England, Emerson’s awareness of the Continent’s revolutionary unrest was heightened by his concern for Margaret Fuller, in Italy for the New-York Tribune to report on that country’s fight for unification. In this context, he re-encountered Wordsworth. Fourteen years before, as he recounted in English Traits, his general admiration for Wordsworth’s “great simplicity” had been qualified by surprise at finding certain “hard limits to his thought,” assessing him at that time as “one who paid for his rare elevation by general tameness and conformity.”38 Now on this second visit, he and Harriet Martineau happened to awaken the seventy-eight-year-old Wordsworth from a nap. After silently pulling himself together, the poet gave way to a spate of bitterness about the French and then the Scots, intoning that Scotsmen were incapable of writing English. That included Carlyle, he said, “who is a pest to the English tongue.”39 Emerson could not know that Wordsworth had long thought the same of him. Seven years before, he had sardonically written a friend, “Our two present Philosophers [Emerson and Carlyle], who have taken a language which they suppose to be English for their vehicle, are verily ‘Par nobile fratrum’ [“a noble pair of brothers”], and it is a pity that the weakness of our age has not left them exclusively to the appropriate reward, mutual admiration. Where is the thing that now passes for philosophy at Boston to stop?”40 Although Emerson had always qualified his appreciation of Wordsworth, after his death in 1850, he remarked in English Traits, “His adherence to his poetic creed rested on real inspirations. The Ode on Immortality is the high-water-mark which the intellect has reached in this age.”41

  • 42 T. Carlyle to Emerson, April 6, 1870, CCE 2: 324.

28In 1850, Carlyle praised Representative Men, ignoring the difference between Emerson’s essentially democratic, self-affirming uses of great men and his own hierarchical treatment of parallel figures in Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841). But he disagreed with Emerson about Plato, whom he disliked. He also regretted that his friend had ended each of his profiles with criticism. Six years later, Carlyle’s enthusiasm for Emerson’s English Traits was less qualified. By 1860, he especially liked The Conduct of Life, and ten years later, Society and Solitude as well. Yet he criticized a continuing optimism in Emerson, ignoring his friend’s exploration of nature’s predictably unsentimental ways in “Fate.”42 During Emerson’s third trip to Europe in 1872-1873 — for the most part, an old man’s enjoyment of his celebrity — he twice saw Carlyle for a final time, their dwindling contact soon to end in old age and infirmity.

  • 43 Leslie Stephen, “Emerson,” Studies of a Biographer (London: Duckworth & Co., 1902), 3.
  • 44 V. Woolf, Night and Day (1919), ed. J. Briggs (London and New York: Penguin, 1992), 38.
  • 45 V. Woolf, “Emerson’s Journals” (1910), The Essays of Virginia Woolf: 1904-1912, ed. A. McNeillie (L (...)
  • 46 D. Richardson, Pilgrimage (London: Dent, Cresset Press, 1938), 3: 41, 128; 4: 545. On Emersonian so (...)

29An American friend and admirer of Emerson, Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), co-editor of the North American Review and art professor at Harvard, was also a long-time resident in England and on the Continent. Eventually, he edited the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence. Paralleling Carlyle’s trans-Atlantic role in enhancing Emerson’s reputation in the West, Norton also promoted Emerson in letters and gifts of his books to friends. Norton’s contacts included the Rossetti brothers — the poet-painter Dante Gabriel and the editor William — as well as the editor-critic Leslie Stephen. In America in 1863, Stephen met Norton and, probably through him, Emerson. Almost forty years later, Stephen published a comprehensive short exposition of Emerson’s writings.43 Not surprisingly then, Stephen’s daughter Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) came to applaud Emerson’s “firm and glittering” analogies. In her novel about women in modern times, Night and Day (1919), the suffragette Mary muses, “I must reflect with Emerson that it’s being and not doing that matters.”44 But earlier, Woolf had largely dismissed Emerson as a mere “schoolmaster.”45 Her surface attention contrasts with the lesser novelist Dorothy Richardson, whose Miriam in Pilgrimage (13 vols., 1915-1938) either quotes or mentions Emerson more than any other writer.46

  • 47 O. Wilde, “The Soul of Man under Socialism,” The Soul of Man. De Profundis. The Ballad of Reading G (...)
  • 48 For Wilde’s judgment on Emerson as a poet, see his interview, January 16, 1882, cited in R. Ellmann (...)

30The Irish author Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), wit and celebrated aesthete, was strongly attracted to Emerson, principally at first for his ideas on art and for his whimsy. Later, he adopted some of his more substantial ideas. Wilde’s early focus on only a part of Emerson’s legacy produced a rather ambiguous effect. On the one hand, believing Emerson to be a “fine thinker”47 and, with Whitman, one of America’s two best poets,48 he heavily borrowed phrases, even whole sentences from Emerson. In the United States in 1882 to give a lecture series popularizing aestheticism, Wilde echoed Emerson’s views on the unity of beauty and utility.

6.12 Oscar Wilde at 28, c. 1882.

  • 49 O. Wilde, “Art and the Handicraftsman,” June 2, 1882, Essays and Lectures (Charleston, SC: BiblioBa (...)
  • 50 O. Wilde and Rennell Rodd, Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf (Philadelphia, PA: J. M. Stoddart & Co., 1882), (...)
  • 51 In 1885, Wilde wrote to A. P. T. Elder, editor of a fledgling American literary journal: “I see no (...)

31But on the other hand, in the same series he called the symbolism of Transcendentalism escapist and “Asiatic.”49 In this series, too, he quoted from “Man the Reformer,” then without attribution stole several sentences of Emerson’s (with variants) with which he concludes his “Domestic Life.” As Wilde’s tour ended, he at least recognized the “Attic genius” of “New England’s Plato,” perhaps because Emerson had died only weeks before. Then in “L’Envoi,” an introductory essay of the same year, Wilde recalled Emerson’s comment in “Nominalist and Realist”: “I am always insincere, knowing that there are other moods,”50 revealing that at this stage he was principally drawn to Emerson the droll “master of moods” rather than the model authentic man.51

32In his critical dialogue The Decay of Lying (1889), Wilde continued to emphasize the puckish Emerson. But in assigning him the role of artist as absolute liar “for art’s sake,” Wilde ignored the moral limits Emerson gave to imaginative creation. In another dialogue, The Critic as Artist (1890), Wilde culls Emerson’s essays “Compensation” and “The Over-Soul” for his characters’ exchanges on the human psyche. Wilde’s Ernest announces, “... Men are wiser than they know” and “We are wiser than we know.” And his Gilbert wryly says he lives “in terror of not being misunderstood,” paraphrasing “Self-Reliance” (“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?... To be great is to be misunderstood.”). Elsewhere in this dialogue, Wilde quoted or referred to “Self-Reliance” at least three more times.

  • 52 O. Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism (article, Fortnightly Review XLIX: 290, February 1891, 29 (...)
  • 53 O. Wilde, Oscar Wilde: The Major Works (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 61.

33Again, this time bridging the individual and politics in The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891), Wilde leaned heavily on Emerson. Drawing on “Self-Reliance,” “The Poet,” and also on his “Considerations by the Way,” Wilde quotes and paraphrases Emerson’s treatment of a slew of subjects: conformity, freedom, imitation, autonomy, misunderstanding, individualism, tradition, property, mobs, philanthropy, and man as symbol.52 Wilde’s single novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), the story of a handsome young degenerate, follows this same Emerson-indebted pattern. His Lord Henry condenses, paraphrases and typically exaggerates ideas from “Self-Reliance” and “Success,” as in “People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to oneself.”53

  • 54 O. Wilde, Soul of Man (1999), 114.

34After his imprisonment in 1895, Wilde, perhaps seeking to justify his life choices, selected Emerson’s essays as prime reading matter, now gravitating to his more serious thoughts. Wilde’s posthumous published letter De Profundis (1905) comments on a central passage from “Success”: “‘Nothing is more rare in any man,’says Emerson, ‘than an act of his own.’It is quite true. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion, their life a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”54 Wilde could adopt this much, but not the full load of Emerson’s thought.

  • 55 J. C. Powys, One Hundred Books (New York: G. A. Shaw, 1916), 26.

35Emerson was also widely read among British philosophers, such as A. N. Whitehead and the novelist-lecturer John Cowper Powys (1872-1863). Powys’s One Hundred Best Books (1916) cites an edition of Emerson’s major writings and praises his “clear, chaste, remote and distinguished wisdom... with its shrewd preacher’s wit and country-bred humor.” He also noted a vital link in the chain of Emerson’s influence in Europe: “Nietzsche found him a sane and noble influence principally on the ground of his serene detachment from the phenomena of sin and disease and death.” Powys was one of the first to call attention to the now well-known Emerson-Nietzsche connection. That relationship, generally overlooked by mainstream criticism, especially in Europe, had already excelled any other in scope and rich ramification in the West.55

Emerson in German-Speaking Europe

  • 56 See, for example, studies by Hubbard, Stack, Cavell, Kateb, Lopez, Conant, Mikics, Bloom, Zavatta, (...)

36The indebtedness of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) to Emerson has long been known, but for the most part only in specialist circles.56 Furthermore, like José Martí in Cuba, Nietzsche superbly illustrates the literal revolutionary effect of Emerson’s ideas in his native country and throughout Europe. But Nietzsche’s frequent celebration, especially on the Continent, has more than eclipsed his malignant role in departing from Emerson’s core intent. In fact, his misinterpretations of Emerson, taken up and further falsified by the Nazis, fed Germany’s political ambitions and contributed to the catastrophes of World War II.

6.13 Friedrich Nietzsche at about 31, c. 1875.

  • 57 Die Führung des Lebens, trans. E. S. von Mühlberg (Leipzig: Steinacker, 1862); Versuche (I and II s (...)
  • 58 G. J. Stack, Nietzsche and Emerson: An Elective Affinity (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1992), (...)

37In 1862, the seventeen-year-old Nietzsche’s delight with a new translation of The Conduct of Life led him to buy Emerson’s Essays I and II.57 Later, he acquired other works, including a second copy of The Conduct of Life and translations by Herman Grimm. From the start, Nietzsche copiously underlined and made exclamatory notes of praise in the margins of these works: “Ja!,” “Gut!,” “Sehr Gut!,” “Das ist recht!,” “Das ist wahr!” Directly or indirectly, Nietzsche referred to Emerson over a hundred times in his books and manuscripts, and regularly in his notes and letters. He rarely traveled without his Emerson.58

  • 59 In a chapter draft, “Why I Am So Wise,” Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals. Ecce Homo, eds. W. K (...)

38Arguably, Emerson was Nietzsche’s first as well as his last intellectual mentor. The American had already magnetized him a year before he began studying Plato and three years before he took up Schopenhauer. Then for over twenty-five years, Emerson remained a vital touchstone as Nietzsche wrote Unzeitgemäße Betrachtungen (Untimely Considerations, 1873-1876); rejected Schopenhauer in 1876-1877; and composed Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1885). Nietzsche’s Götzen-Dämmerung (The Twilight of the Idols, 1888) further praised Emerson. A draft of Ecce Homo (also 1888) contains one of Nietzsche’s most heartfelt confessions of Emerson’s influence, and an original interpretation of him as a radical skeptic. So great was Nietzsche’s debt that, evidently to disguise the importance of Emerson as a constant source, he censored this mention of him.59

  • 60 G. J. Stack, “Nietzsche’s Earliest Essays: Translation of and Commentary on Fate and History and Fr (...)
  • 61 See, for example, Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Preface, aphorism 56; The Antichrist; The Will t (...)

39Yet Nietzsche often departed from Emerson’s original meaning. His treatment of fate and freedom heads the list of misinterpretations. The year he first devoured Emerson (1862), Nietzsche published essays of his own on his hero’s subjects — fate, freedom, and history — topics that Heidegger later described as Nietzsche’s “essential center.”60 In a near-paraphrase of Emerson’s “Fate,” Nietzsche urged the simultaneous embrace of, and resistance to, circumstance. But he went further, proposing a cultural revolution that far exceeded anything Emerson had envisioned: the subversion of the entire Christian tradition. The teen-age Nietzsche claimed that Christianity had inculcated a system of moral “slavery” and human degradation by preaching original sin and guilt, the superiority of soul to body, and an afterlife beyond this existence. By the 1880s, Nietzsche was adding to Christianity other traditions he thought equally injurious, whether religious or not: Buddhism, Platonic idealism, Socialism, and Democracy. For him, their valuation of equality and an ethic aligned with the poor, weak, and diseased promoted false goals and a debilitating herd mentality.61

40In contrast, Emerson’s criticism of Congregational and Unitarian forms of Christianity in early nineteenth-century New England had focused on removing the powers of clergy and dogma which he felt separated the single believer from God. Emerson’s Jesus of Nazareth was an admirable man, even a model human being, but was neither wholly, nor even partially, “God’s son.” Such a role falsely elevated him above the rest of humanity. As for Platonism, Buddhism, and other philosophies or faiths, Emerson explored them with deep curiosity, looking for spiritual enlightenment. Too individualistic to support socialism, he nevertheless firmly and with vigor championed both equality and democracy. Their effects could disappoint, but they were infinitely preferable to a hermetic hierarchy or monarchy. Emerson would have considered Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist (The Antichrist, 1888), opposing both Christian thought and democracy, a travesty of his concept of self-reliance, which he always linked to a larger ethical norm.

  • 62 M. Montinari, Reading Nietzsche (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 71-72.
  • 63 CW 6: 31.

41Nietzsche had made his departure from this central Emersonian idea clear in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885). In large part inspired by Emerson’s “Character,”62 Zarathustra embodied Nietzsche’s famous concept of an “Ubermensch,” “Man above men,” or a so-called super-man. In Emerson’s “Power,” his “plus man”63 had rejected conformity not to be independent for its own sake but to act authentically, drawing energy and motivation from a higher moral spirit. Since the 1830s, Emerson had developed this concept of the extraordinary man from his “Man Thinking” (“The American Scholar” and “The Poet”) as well as from his select group profiled in Representative Men. Again, he rooted humanity’s “plus” state in an intimacy with creation’s overarching ethical order. In contrast, Nietzsche’s Ubermensch epitomized not only a surplus of humanity and life, but also was above any moral, religious, or even cosmic law.

  • 64 For both writers on power, see Emerson, CW 6: 30-32; and Nietzsche’s Writings from the Late Noteboo (...)

42Similarly, in his posthumous work, Der Wille zur Macht (The Will to Power, 1901), Nietzsche continued to reverse Emerson on this subject. Once again, Emerson’s sense of life as “a search after power” arose from a belief that legitimate authority comes only to a soul in harmony with the heart of nature: universal moral law. His “Divinity School Address” (1838) early announced a personal and profoundly meditative quest, both endless and experimental, aiming for, but always short of, eternal truth. No such idealism framed Nietzsche’s Will to Power. For him, philosophers never innocently and disinterestedly explore for truth’s sake. Their actual goal is all-encompassing power, from worldly influence and infinite fame to physical, political, and technological control.64 Nietzsche’s natural will to power not only inverted Emerson’s understanding of the soul in tune with cosmic force. But in addition, his attitude, an apparent realism laced with cynicism, added an amoral touch. In effect, Nietzsche questioned the very sincerity of his hero’s idealistic pursuit of truth.

  • 65 CW 6: 134-35, 137-39.

43In “Considerations by the Way,” Emerson theorized on the “good of evil” as impetus: “Good is a good doctor, but Bad is sometimes a better.65 Nietzsche explored this basic idea in Beyond Good and Evil (1886). Then, only two years later in The Antichrist, he developed a rough and rigid antithesis to Emerson’s views, turning upside down the Christian concept of the ethical. Instead of empathizing with the weak, ill, enslaved, obedient, peaceful, ignored, or poor, he championed the healthy, rich, and powerful in all of history’s traditional hierarchies — political, military and social.

  • 66 “The Sovereignty of Ethics” (1878), The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. E. W. Emerson (B (...)
  • 67 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. W. Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), 273.
  • 68 CW 2: 179.
  • 69 CW 6: 12-13. See also E. W. Emerson’s CW of RWE 6: 24.

44Nietzsche’s ultimate sense of time and focus also radically differed from Emerson’s with implications for his concept of free will. Emerson argued for engagement in this present existence, emphatically stating, “There is no other world. God is one and omnipresent; here or nowhere is the whole fact.”66 But Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (1882) introduced the concept of “the Eternal Return,” which conceived of the world as endlessly repeating itself in every detail.67 This ultimately closed arc implied a static, wholly determined universe. Such a vision was quite the opposite of Emerson’s early and continuing sense of the world’s change, movement, and expansion, and humanity’s parallel action within it. In “Circles” (1841), he had written, “Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning....”68 Writing “Fate” in the 1850s, he was more explicit in championing free will: “To hazard the contradiction,— freedom is necessary.” In short, it was determined. He went on, “a part of Fate is the freedom of man... Intellect annuls Fate. So far as a man thinks, he is free.” This fundamental paradox arose from Emerson’s lifelong existential experience of “choosing and acting.”69

  • 70 In a draft for The Genealogy of Morals (1887) in Sämtliche Werke: kritische Studienausgabe in 15 Bä (...)
  • 71 CW 6: 135; Nietzsche, The Will to Power (New York: Vintage, 1968), 506.

45As his Beyond Good and Evil (1886) reveals, Nietzsche’s politics also radically distanced him from Emerson. The two differed on such major issues as progressive democratic goals, abolition, feminist ideals, peace, and war. Contrary to his posthumous reputation, Nietzsche was not a Nazi, nor was he a fascist, nationalist, socialist, pan-German enthusiast, or racial purist. He hated anti-Semites and mass movements. But in his later super-reactionary opinions, he eclipsed Emerson’s sense of empowering “each and all.” Nietzsche came to advocate a pro-slavery, autocratic new order, his “warmongering” attitude pushing him to invoke a “new terrorism.”70 More famously, he gave a new framework to his earlier transformation of Emerson’s “representative men” into lawless “Ubermenschen,” ripe for the Nazis’ misuse. Emerson had noted one “good of evil”: “Wars, fires, plagues, break up immovable routine, clear the ground of rotten races and dens of distemper, and open a fair field to new men.” Nietzsche went much further, proposing a true theory of active eugenics “in order to shape the man of the future through breeding and... the annihilation of millions of failures.”71

  • 72 See M. Ferraris, “Storia della volontà di potenza,” in Nietzsche, La volontà di potenza (Milano: Bo (...)
  • 73 Ernst Bertram, Nietzsche. Versuch einer Mythologie (Berlin: Bondi, 1918).
  • 74 H. Bund, Nietzsche als Prophet des Sozialismus (Breslau: Trewendt & Granier, 1919).
  • 75 F. Haiser, Die Judenfrage vom Standpunkt der Herrenmoral: Rechtsvölkische und linksvölkische Weltan (...)
  • 76 For example, see A. Baeumler, Nietzsche, der Philosoph und Politiker (Leipzig: Reclam, 1931); F. Me (...)

46In brief, the later Nietzsche had quite corrupted Emerson’s leading ideas. In turn, the Nazis, heralding Nietzsche as a prophet, either perpetuated earlier untruths about him or invented new ones. Thus, any alleged claims of a link between the real Emerson and the National Socialists, past or present, are quite false. Nietzsche’s association with the Nazis began with his sister Elisabeth, wife of a fervent anti-Semite, who imposed her own bias upon her brother’s posthumous book Will to Power, censoring Nietzsche when he spoke against anti-Semites.72 Then in 1918, just after Germany’s humiliating defeat in World War I, a successful German book mythologized Nietzsche as a pivotal Germanic-Nordic-Greek myth-creator for the German people.73 The next year, a booklet interpreted him as “Prophet” of an extreme, dictatorial form of “Socialism.”74 But not until the mid-1920s did a full “Nazification” of Nietzsche take place, when certain German writers applied his “master morality” and presumed anti-Semitism to a proto-Nazi racial interpretation of the “Jewish question.”75 Also in the pre-Nazi years, the chief editor of Nietzsche’s works, Alfred Baeumler (who became a Nazi in 1933), assumed Nietzsche to be anti-Jewish and celebrated him as both a philosopher and a political scientist. Others profiled him as godfather of a new German nation and “wisdom,” based on a life-enhancing amoral law.76

  • 77 M. Ferraris, “Storia,” in La volontà di potenza, 648.
  • 78 C. Diethe, Nietzsche’s Sister and The Will to Power (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003 (...)
  • 79 R. Oehler, Nietzsche und deutsche Zukunft [Nietzsche and the Future of Germany] (Leipzig: Armanen, (...)
  • 80 In Nazi Germany in the 1930s, E. Baumgarten was the principal student of the Emerson-Nietzsche rela (...)

47Meanwhile, Elisabeth Nietzsche had started a correspondence with Mussolini in 1923, which led to their meeting in the early 1930s. In 1932, she also became a friend of Hitler’s.77 In the next two years, Hitler visited the Nietzsche-Archive in Weimar at least three times, paid tribute to Elisabeth with private gifts, and was photographed looking at Nietzsche’s bust.78 Nietzsche’s cousin Richard Oehler reproduced one such picture in his 1935 book, where he combined quotations from Nietzsche and Mein Kampf (1925-1926).79 In the later 1930s, most Nazis were either ignorant of, or deliberately overlooked, Nietzsche’s deep indebtedness to the democratic Emerson. Martin Heidegger, then a member of the Nazi party and an Anglophobe, censored a German scholar’s study of the Nietzsche-Emerson connection.80

  • 81 G. Zachariae, Mussolini si confessa (Milano: Garzanti, 1948), 25.

48On Mussolini’s sixtieth birthday in 1943, Hitler gave him a complete edition of Nietzsche’s works, an act that symbolized the culmination of Nietzsche’s legacy to the Nazi-Fascist movements.81

49The deep, continuous tie between Emerson and Nietzsche serves as a master key for Emerson’s entrance into the viscera of twentieth-century European culture. Students of Nietzsche’s would inevitably be introduced to Emerson. In turn, their writings referred to both. For example, Belgian Nobel Prize-winner Maurice Maeterlinck, a key figure in the French symbolist movement, wrote a far-reaching essay “Emerson” (1897) that emphasized the everyday presence of a world of transcendental, spiritual mystery and beauty. In Austria, novelist Robert Musil (1880-1942) read Maeterlinck’s essay and quickly noted the Emerson-Nietzsche relationship. Musil soon dedicated himself to what he termed “essayism,” or Emerson’s constant experimentation. He was also drawn to his exaltation of individual action and his aversion to both philosophical systems and the slavish adulation of history.

  • 82 G. Howes has extensively shown Emerson’s influence in his “Robert Musil and the Legacy of Ralph Wal (...)
  • 83 Essays: Erste Folge (Leipzig: Diederichs, 1902). It included “Self-Reliance,” “The Over-Soul,” “Cir (...)
  • 84 R. Musil, Diaries: 1899-1941 (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 23.
  • 85 Notebook II, 25. VII; CW 3: 6.

50Throughout his career, Musil quoted, paraphrased, or integrated Emerson into his writing.82 As a young engineering student at the turn of the century, he read a German edition of the Essays,83 to which he returned in 1905 and again in the 1920s. The radical dynamism of “Circles,” as applied to both morals and politics, was a particular favorite. Sometime between 1899 and 1904 in an undated journal entry, Musil celebrated The Conduct of Life as a model of “an advanced culture.”84 Eleven more times, his journals refer to Emerson at moments when he was recording seeds for his novels, Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß (The Perturbations of Young Torless, 1906) and his masterwork, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities, 1930, 1933, 1943, incomplete). Many of his journal entries draw on “The Poet,” particularly on Emerson’s idea that man is “only half himself, the other half is his expression” and on the daily need to express one’s own “painful secret,” or inmost truth.85

  • 86 R. Musil, Tagebücher, ed. A. Frisé (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1976), 2: 1099, cited in Howes (1 (...)
  • 87 R. Musil, “Geist und Erfahrung,” Das neue Merkur (1921), 3: 12.

51In The Man Without Qualities, Musil took Emerson’s experimentalism, a theme pervading his novel, and made it a “sense of possibility.” From the beginning, his main character Anders (later Ulrich) is characterized by his enthusiasm for “the new, the technical, the Emersonian.”86 Emerson’s “Circles” had stated: “Men walk as prophecies of the next age... I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false.” After Emerson, Musil has Anders/Ulrich say: “Men walk in the world as prophecy of the future, and all their deeds are tests and experiments, for every deed can be surpassed by the next.” Musil/Anders/Ulrich goes on to quote Emerson without attribution: “The virtues of society are vices of the saint.” In the same breath, as if to finally credit him, his hero names Emerson as “a Man whom I love.” Significant traces of Emerson extend into the novel’s other characters: Clarisse, Leinsdorf, Arnheim, and Lindner. In reading Emerson along with Maeterlinck, Novalis, and Nietzsche, Musil thought, “We experience the most powerful movement of the mind.”87 In these authors, he found a vital, immediate relationship to the world, where contemplation and action are one.

  • 88 J. Simon, RWE in Deutschland (1937), first vaguely recognized Emerson’s influence; Ernst Zinn solid (...)
  • 89 Dähnert’s edition (Leipzig: Reclam, 1897) included: “Circles,” “Compensation,” “Spiritual Laws,” “L (...)
  • 90 CW 2: 188.
  • 91 R. M. Rilke, “Notes on the Melody of Things,” in his The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams, trans. D. (...)
  • 92 CW 3: 6.
  • 93 R. M. Rilke, Notes, section XVI.

52Maeterlinck’s “Emerson” of 1897 immediately inspired Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), the twentieth-century bohemian Austrian poet.88 That winter, he read Emerson’s Essays,89 and twice quoted them in his Florenzer Tagebuch (Florentine Diary, 1898). Like Musil, he was drawn to “Circles”: “I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back.”90 Rilke echoes this thought in his essay “Notizien zur Melodie der Dinge” (“Notes on the Melody of Things”, 1898): “We are right at the start, do you see. As though before everything. With a thousand and one dreams behind us and no act.”91 Other images from “Circles” as well as “The Poet” and “The Over-Soul” were evident in this essay, including Pentecostal figures of “cloven flames and fiery men who speak holy words,” of doors opening, mountain peaks and men as trees. Notable, too, is the figure of the poet-speaker whose work implants his perceptions in everyone. Emerson’s “The Poet” refers to the men “of more delicate ear” than most of us who, hearing nature’s “primal warblings,” write, however imperfectly, “the songs of nations.”92 Rilke writes: “... a broad melody always wakes behind you, woven out of a thousand voices, where there is room for your own solo only here and there. To know when you need to join in: that is the secret of your solitude: just as the art of true interactions with others is to let yourself fall away from high words into a single common melody.”93

  • 94 For example, see J. Ryan, The Vanishing Subject (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 5 (...)
  • 95 R. M. Rilke, Intérieurs, section XIII, Werke (Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchges, 1996), 4: 98-99.

53This essay was part of a veritable flood of creativity that poured from Rilke in 1898.94 In that year, his major essay “On Art” and another prose text, “Intérieurs,” heavily drew from Emerson, the latter even mimicking his style.95 In 1899, Rilke published a collection of poems in an Emerson/Whitman-like mode, For My Joy (Mir Zur Feier). Metamorphosis was its major theme, with at least four poems probably inspired by Emerson. The same year his Book of Hours, vol. 1, also appeared, its title alluding to Emerson’s “Genius of the Hour” (from “Art”) that “dwells in the hour that now is” (from “Over-Soul”). The book also repeats other favorite Emerson themes such as the creative glance of the poet and existence as a state of perpetual becoming. Rilke’s Book of Images, a collection of poems written between 1898 and 1901, includes other themes that echo Emerson: the creative power of imagination, memory’s selectivity, and fully living in the moment.

Emerson in French-speaking Europe

54Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), a central figure in Polish literature, was also a multilingual poet claimed by several nations, especially France.

6.14 Adam Mickiewicz at 44, 1842.

  • 96 A. Mickiewicz, Les slaves (Paris: Comptoir des imprimeurs réunis, 1849), 216-17, 456-57. Megan Mars (...)

55Among Romantics, he became ranked with Byron and Goethe. Mickiewicz and his colleague at the Collège de France, historian Edgar Quinet (1803-1875), shared a common passion for Emerson, beginning with Nature (1836), which they read in 1838. Only six years later, Quinet added Emerson’s name to his list of the greatest modern philosophers after Vico, Condorcet, Herder, and Hegel. In the period 1843-1845, Mickiewicz and Quinet quoted and copied several passages from Emerson in both their journals and course lectures. For Mickiewicz, Emerson was “the American Socrates,” similar to, but “more profound” than, the French spiritual and social philosopher Pierre Leroux. He also likened Emerson’s sensitivity to that of Polish and Slavonic people, attuned to the “continual influence of the invisible world on the visible world.” In Paris in 1847, Margaret Fuller used a gift of Emerson’s Poems (1846) to win an introduction to the handsome, vibrant, and inspiring Pole, who shared her enthusiasm for women’s rights.96

  • 97 See M. Z. Markiewicz, “Mickiewicz vulgarisateur d’Emerson,” Revue de littérature comparée (1955), 2 (...)
  • 98 A. Mickiewicz, Les slaves, 457.

56Through his teaching and translations, Mickiewicz contributed to the diffusion of Emerson’s essays in France. In his courses, he quoted the first lines of “Man the Reformer” and ideas that probably derived from Emerson’s “Farming.” With “History,” he translated these essays for “La Tribune des Peuples,” his newly founded internationalist leftist magazine. Ideas from Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”” and “Spiritual Laws” have been identified in seven of Mickiewicz’s “Apothegms in Verses.”97 Besides his students, he introduced Emerson to the French historian Jules Michelet. Yet Mickiewicz regretted Emerson’s apparent isolation from his time, nation, and land,98 revealing an ignorance of the American’s far-reaching readership and lecture audiences as well as his active antislavery and pro-women’s rights work.

  • 99 E. Montégut, a friend of Baudelaire, also wrote on Emerson; see “Un penseur et un poète américain,”(...)

57Of other leading French authors who enhanced Emerson’s reputation in Europe, the poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) made a strong contribution.99

6.15 Charles Baudelaire at 41, c. 1862.

  • 100 See Montégut’s preface, Essais de philosophie américaine (Paris: Charpentier, 1850).
  • 101 C. Baudelaire, My Heart Laid Bare (New York: Vanguard, 1951), 186 (my translation).
  • 102 C. Pichois, J.-P. Avice, Dictionnaire Baudelaire (Tusson, Charente: Du Lérot, 2002), 65.

58The two may have brushed shoulders, but did not meet in Paris in 1848, when the radical Baudelaire and the curious Emerson attended two separate revolutionary rallies. Although Baudelaire’s American idol, Edgar Allan Poe (d. 1840) had not favored Emerson (and vice versa), Baudelaire was attracted to him via a French translation.100 In addition, he knew at least parts of Representative Men, evident from his vitriolic attack on Voltaire in Mon coeur mis à nu (My Heart Laid Bare, 1864). Baudelaire suggested Emerson should have written an essay about the eighteenth century philosophe entitled “the Anti-Poet, the King of Gawkers, the Prince of Superficials, the Anti-Artist, the preacher of janitresses.”101 Baudelaire’s purchase of English Traits102 and an edition of The Conduct of Life in English showed his attraction to Emerson’s most intense confrontations with urban, industrial culture. The latter book, especially, was a guide to an empowering ethics for modern life, a project for which Poe was no model.

59The Conduct of Life is also widely present in Baudelaire’s diary-like works, beginning in their first pages: My Heart Laid Bare (1864) and Fusées (Rockets, 1867). In Rockets, he either quotes or paraphrases from “Power” and other essays, taking up Emerson’s ideas on concentration, the value of constant ambitions, and the virtue of repeated practice. In these writings, Baudelaire, the bohémien par excellence, repents his wasteful ways, seeks empowerment (with uncertain results) through self-reliance, and promises himself to refrain from any dissipation. A whole section of Baudelaire’s journals on Hygiène (Hygiene, 1867) includes a long series of quotes, in English this time, from The Conduct of Life.

  • 103 C. Baudelaire, Eugene Delacroix: His Life and Work (New York: Lear Publishers, 1947), 44 (text re-t (...)
  • 104 D. M. Marchi, has suggested this kind of shift, as possibly stimulated by reading Emerson. Marchi, (...)

60On the theme of concentration, Baudelaire often repeated a sentence from Emerson’s “Considerations by the Way” in his book on Delacroix (1863): “The hero is he who is immovably centered.” And he praised Emerson as “the overseas moralist” who, “though passing for leader of the boring Bostonian school, has nonetheless a certain acumen à la Seneca, proper to sharpen meditation.” The wisdom Emerson applies, he wrote, “to the conduct of life and to the domain of affairs can equally be applied to the domain of poetry and art.”103 Baudelaire’s attraction to Emerson, particularly his idea of the supremacy of the solitary artist, may have helped him shift from advocating a confrontational socialism to an ethic of radical authenticity.104

61In contrast to Baudelaire, the philosopher and writer Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was almost bilingual in English and French and thus could read Emerson in the original.

6.16 Henri Bergson at 68, 1927.

  • 105 H. Bergson, “Speech, France-America Society on March 12, 1917,” Mélanges, ed. André Robinet (Paris: (...)
  • 106 Idem, “The Theories of Free Will” (Lecture series given at the Collège de France in 1906-1907), Mél (...)
  • 107 H. Bergson to Prof. J. Chevalier, February 1836, in Bergson 1972, 1543.
  • 108 E. H. Cady and L. J. Budd state that James, in his copy of the “Nominalist and Realist,” “wrote ‘Be (...)

62In 1917, he declared that he “loved Emerson,” undoubtedly a result of his admiration for William James, Emerson’s younger friend and close reader, as seen in Chapter 5.105 Bergson’s earliest references to Emerson in 1906-1907 borrow ideas from the beginning of his “Character” that focus on the gap between character and action.106 He cites Emerson’s examples of the English statesman William Pitt and George Washington as unusual men, whose characters alone distinguished them. Although Bergson rarely referred to Emerson — only three times in thirty years — the span of his references testifies to a lasting regard. Like Dickinson and Nietzsche, he may also have resisted compromising his own originality by too frequent reference. Bergson echoes Emerson in his similar interest in the nature of time, organic vital force, intuition, and the comic. His final notice was in 1936, when he once again spoke of William James, this time to say his work reminded him of Emerson.107 There, Bergson slightly misquoted Emerson’s “Character,” in defining it as “a reserve of force which acts solely by its presence.” (Interestingly, James recognized Bergson’s indebtedness to Emerson when he re-read Emerson and thought of Bergson.)108

63Marcel Proust (1871-1922) knew Emerson early, probably from high school, and also favored writers who were Emerson followers: Bergson, Baudelaire, Thoreau, Carlyle, and George Eliot. Proust’s diary and correspondence of his early twenties contain frequent references to Emerson.

6.17 Marcel Proust at 21, 1892.

  • 109 M. Proust letter of 1895, Lettres à Reynaldo Hahn (Paris: Gallimard, 1956), 34.
  • 110 Partly translated in Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, trans. J. Sturrock (London, New York: P (...)
  • 111 M. Proust, The Guermantes Way, trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, et al. (New York: Modern Library, 2003 (...)

64Then in 1895, the year before his first novel appeared, he claimed to have read Emerson’s Essais “drunkenly.”109 The same year, he encountered a French edition of Representative Men. And in the next, Proust’s Les plaisirs et les jours (Pleasures and Days, 1896) used four selections from Emerson as chapter headings. In Pastiches et mélanges (Mixtures, 1919), he refers to Emerson at least six times.110 From this early and continuous interest, it is not surprising that Emerson ideas appear in vital parts of Proust’s best-known work, the autobiographical novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time, 1913-1927). In the third volume of this novel, Le côté de Guermantes (The Way of Guermantes, 1920-1921), the narrator Marcel describes a conversation that “had been entirely about Emerson, Ibsen and Tolstoy.”111

65More recently, Albert Camus (1913-1960), the Franco-Algerian philosopher and novelist, emerged as yet another admirer of Emerson and a keen reader of his Journals.

6.18 Albert Camus at 44, 1957.

  • 112 Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959 (Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2008), 28. The Emerson quotation is fr (...)
  • 113 Camus, Notebooks, 22. Emerson’s journal entry of 27 February 1870, may have been the source for the (...)
  • 114 Camus, Notebooks, 26; JMN 8: 79. The source of the first and third sentences is unclear.

66In his own journals of 1951-1952, Camus so frequently quotes Emerson that he identifies them with a mere “E,” as with “The only immortal is the one for whom all things are immortal.”112 In other places, only a sentence separates an Emerson “wall-gate/door” quotation from Camus’ Emerson-sounding notes: “The time of criticism and polemics is over — Creation... Totally eliminating criticism and polemics — From now on, the single and constant affirmation... The worst of fortunes is a bad temperament.”113 Elsewhere, Camus records three more Emerson thoughts. One on radical authenticity is certainly from his journal: “What remains but to acquiesce in the faith that not lying, nor being angry, we shall at last acquire the voice and language of a man.”114

  • 115 Camus, Discours de Suède (Paris: Gallimard, 1958), 30. The Emerson quotation, present in Camus’ jou (...)
  • 116 Emerson refers to hope as based on the infinity of the world, saying that “every wall is a gate.” J (...)

67In his last four years, Camus evidently felt particular affinities with Emerson. His exemplary short story, “Jonas, or the Artist at Work” (1957), reflects Emersonian themes — from self-reliance to the individual’s conflicting needs for solitude and for society. The same year, Camus twice refers to Emerson in his lecture, “L’artiste et son temps” (“The Artist and His Time”), given four days after his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize. Early in his remarks, he paraphrases the American: “Man’s obedience to his own genius, Emerson said magnificently, is faith par excellence.”115 Ending inspirationally, he directly quotes Emerson on a major point: “Every wall is a door.” (Camus substitutes “door” for Emerson’s “gate.”)116 For Emerson, life’s adversities (walls) are potential openings to new possibilities. After the unprecedented horrors of World War II, Camus was re-conceiving the role of the artist, urging writers to leave their escapist, fictional creations and confront the “wall” facing them — the hard facts of radical evil. Emerson’s figure assured Camus that there was indeed a way out, but he stressed, only through the wall itself. Camus may now be added to those who have attempted to rescue Emerson from an army of critics who, early and late, have erroneously dismissed him as a cosmic optimist, ignoring the reality of evil and thus failing to effectively protest against it.

Emerson in Italy

  • 117 D’Annunzio’s first documented reference to Nietzsche appears in Il Mattino, September 25, 1892.

68The proto-Nazi and Nazi transformation of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch to support the concept of a “master race,” a full reversal of Emerson’s “plus” man, was largely done in ignorance of the Emerson-Nietzsche relationship. This was not the case in Italy. The poet and politician Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938), the “godfather” of Italian fascism, made the connection between the two, no doubt when reading both in the same period.117

6.19 Gabriele D’Annunzio, early 20th century.

  • 118 D’Annunzio, “Una tendenza,” Il Mattino, January 30-31, 1893, Interviste a D’Annunzio (Lanciano: Car (...)
  • 119 Ibid., cf., Emerson, CW 3: 12.
  • 120 Interview, January 1895, in D’Annunzio “Una tendenza,” 55. D’Annunzio’s knowledge of Representative (...)
  • 121 CW 3: 17, 18. Interview with F. Pastonchi, La Stampa, October 1, 1899, in D’Annunzio “Una tendenza, (...)

69That may help explain his elitist interpretation of Emerson. As early as 1893, D’Annunzio clearly linked his futuristic ideas to the American, writing, “The artists of the future... will be the representative men, to use Emerson’s phrase: they will be, like Leonardo, the exemplar interpreters and messengers of their times.”118 Two years later, the idea had taken firm hold: D’Annunzio stressed the poet’s elevated role of prophet, seeing artists alone as “representative men... in modern societies....” To Emerson’s quest for the “great and constant fact of Life,” he attached a Messianic note, “[We] wait for a Man of Life,”119 adding that “the new Renaissance” would be “the restoration of the worship of Man.”120 In 1899, D’Annunzio repeated Emerson’s expectation of poets to be “liberating gods,” saying, “The people are thirsty for poetry, they wait for the poet, the great dramatic poet, as a liberator. The future belongs to the poets.”121

  • 122 Emerson, Les forces eternelles et autres essais, trans. K. Johnston, with preface by B. Perry (Pari (...)
  • 123 Ibid., 18, marked by d’Annunzio with a strong left line.
  • 124 Ibid., 19, marked by d’Annunzio with left and right lines.
  • 125 Gabriele D’Annunzio, ed. J. de Blasi (Florence: Sansoni, 1939), 200.

70D’Annunzio’s early library was auctioned in 1910. But his later collection, with Emerson’s works frequently underlined, documents how thoroughly the American influenced his ambitions and even, to some degree, his sensitivity. In a French translation of Emerson’s “The Tragic,” D’Annunzio read, “He has seen but half the universe who never has been shown the House of Pain,” then exclaimed, “Lien commun! [A common bond!].”122 The comment is arresting. Only a few Emerson followers perceived his tragic sense. D’Annunzio also marked Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.’s biography of Emerson where it noted his unique “seraphic voice and countenance.”123 (By name and style, D’Annunzio and his biographers referred to him as an “archangel.”) More ominously, he also marked several passages in “Self-Reliance.” One, “I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility [that of friends],”124 would have strengthened D’Annunzio’s devil-may-care flamboyance. In the same year, 1912, D’Annunzio appeared to have translated this idea into his “me ne frego” (“I don’t care”), expressing a callous, “so-what” attitude disregarding all others and any challenge. The slogan became a famous Fascist cry,125 and illustrates how fully D’Annunzio, like Nietzsche, departed from Emerson’s true intent.

  • 126 A. Bonadeo, D’Annunzio and the Great War (Madison, WI: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995), (...)

71D’Annunzio’s heavily-marked Emerson passages detail many more instances of ideas that inspired his radical corruptions. Above all, he grafted onto Emerson’s ideal of the poet-prophet the notion of the poet-duce, the poet as political leader. Without any exterior check, D’Annunzio would embody the artist-as-politician in a blend of narcissistic aestheticism, super-masculinity, bullying rhetoric, and amoral behaviour, all within an excessive lifestyle. Such a leader was at total odds with Emerson’s goals for the poet-in-society and in high contrast to his simple manner and style. Later, D’Annunzio’s readings of Nietzsche’s work further skewed his interpretations of Emerson. In the end, he betrayed even his own ideal of the poet-duce, living a sequestered life of private consumption at his paradise-retreat, the Vittoriale, adored by fans and financially supported by continuous aid from Mussolini.126

72Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was undoubtedly happy to keep D’Annunzio, a celebrated World War I hero, literary star, and muted rival, out of public notice. The two had been close for years, from fighting together in Fiume in 1919 to Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922, and often corresponded.

  • 127 B. Mussolini, “La filosofia della forza,” Il pensiero romagnolo, November 29, December 6, 13 (2008)
  • 128 As Denis Mack Smith suggested in his Mussolini (New York: Knopf, 1982), 132. On the Emerson-Mussoli (...)
  • 129 B. Mussolini, “United Press” interview, December 21, 1925, 123.
  • 130 B. Mussolini, Radio message of January 20, 1931, 123-24.

73Given this contact, D’Annunzio might well have first introduced Emerson to Mussolini, although the destruction or sale of Mussolini’s personal libraries has obscured the scope and dating of this influence. But Mussolini’s long essay about Nietzsche, La filosofia della forza (The Philosophy of Power, 1908),127 would have made him exceedingly curious about the German’s principal source. Thus his claims in 1925 and 1931 that Emerson was among his favorite authors should be taken seriously, not as mere political or diplomatic boasting.128 In 1925, he countered an argument that American civilization is “dominated exclusively by mechanical or materialistic factors and by the thirst for financial gain,” by pointing not only to William James but to Emerson himself.129 Six years later, in support of his “deep sympathy to the people of the great Republic” and its contributions to “modern progress,” Mussolini adduced a list of writers: “Longfellow, Whitman, Emerson.” He remarked outright, “Personally, I am a great admirer of Emerson and James.”130

6.20 Benito Mussolini at 40 presides over Fascists’ first anniversary celebration.

  • 131 G. Zachariae, Mussolini si confessa (Milano: Garzanti, 1948), 42.
  • 132 Margherita G. Sarfatti, foreword by Benito Mussolini, The Life of Benito Mussolini (Whitefish, MT: (...)

74Associates of Mussolini also bore witness to his knowledge of Emerson. The Duce’s personal doctor reported: “... very often we happened to entertain ourselves at length on Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kant, Emerson and other philosophers.”131 Much closer to Mussolini was his intellectual soul mate, lover, and first biographer Margherita Sarfatti, a journalist familiar with Emerson. In her Life of Benito Mussolini (1925), she quoted Emerson, implying a parallel with her subject: “The reward of a duty performed lies in the acquisition of strength to perform a duty that is more difficult.”132

  • 133 Jean McClure Mudge, The Poet and the Dictator: Lauro de Bosis Resists Fascism in Italy and America (...)

75Mussolini’s interest in Emerson’s ideal of the heroic “great man,” or a superior “representative man,” as a unifying guide for the whole nation paralleled D’Anunnzio’s. But he went further. Mussolini’s leader would shed D’Annunzio’s poetic and mystical aestheticism to be more stoic and Roman, an even stronger strong man. At a moment when Italy was weakened by war and an ineffectual king, and even before elevating himself from prime minister to dictator in 1925, Mussolini had famously said, “Liberty is a rotten carcass.”133 Ruthlessly absorbing all political power unto himself, he was, like Nietzsche, openly attacking democracy. After 1925, Mussolini quickly eviscerated most of Italy’s democratic institutions, built a vast military force, began territorial expansion, and ended by allying himself with an even more potent “Nietzschean” Ubermensch, Hitler. D’Annunzio and Mussolini’s selective sampling of Emerson missed his widest context and deepest presence, his “Over Soul.” Emerson’s aphorism, “Moral qualities rule the world, but at short distances, the senses are despotic,” definitively distances him from these two Italians.

  • 134 In G. Mariani, “The (Mis) Fortune of Emerson in Italy,” Anglistica 6: 1 (2002), 103-31.
  • 135 Ibid., 110.
  • 136 Caterina Ricciardi, “Ralph Waldo Emerson and Elio Vittorini,” Emerson at 2000, 113-21.

76Simultaneously, however, a handful of non-Fascist Party Italian writers were accurately reading and interpreting Emerson. The novelist Federigo Tozzi (1883-1920) extolled Nature, and the professor of pedagogy Giuseppe Lombardo Radice (1879-1939) celebrated his educational philosophy in a long essay, Emerson: profeta dell’educazione nuova (Emerson: Prophet of the New Education, 1926). Despite this interest, the Fascists’use of Emerson led to his general disrepute in post-World War II Italy. For a time, that sentiment grew into an anti-Emerson tradition.134 Then in the late 1950s, Agostino Lombardo, the founder of American Studies in Italy, exalted him as one who illustrated “America becoming conscious of itself,” his endorsement temporarily resuscitating Emerson’s reputation. But influenced by F. O. Mathiessen’s American Renaissance (1941), a work that faulted Emerson for failing to be as realistic as his contemporaries, Lombardo finally found the American “too much a philosopher to be a poet, and too much a poet to be a philosopher.”135 Twentieth-century novelists Elio Vittorini and Cesare Pavese were similarly cautious or downright critical.136

  • 137 Ibid.
  • 138 La Stampa, 25 May 2003, 19.
  • 139 Libero, 2 July 2008, 29.
  • 140 Corriere della Sera, 9 September 2008, 43.
  • 141 A. Rigoni, Corriere della Sera, 14 January 2008, 35.
  • 142 Avvenire, 29 June 2008, 18.

77In the twenty-first century, Italy has shifted toward a more positive view of Emerson with only a touch of its earlier ambivalence. Several translations of Emerson’s works have appeared. And in the fall of 2003, a large International Bicentennial Conference was held, an event honoring Emerson that was unprecedented in Europe.137 Yet that same year, a leading philosopher, Gianni Vattimo, called for a re-examination of Emerson as a “forerunner of Nietzsche,”138 reawakening the negative cast the German had made of his American idol. And in 2008, a newspaper review of an Italian translation of The Conduct of Life —, “Emerson. The Secret Master of Nietzsche,” spoke of both his importance and neglect, while pairing him once again with Nietzsche.139 In the same year, however, novelist Paola Capriolo’s review of the same book called it a true classic, “with sparkling humor and vibrant poetic brightness.”140 In 2008, too, Mario A. Rigoni, a leading critic of the poet Leopardi, noted affinities between the Italian and Emerson.141 Recently as well, the contemporary poet and Emerson scholar Roberto Mussapi has celebrated his essays as “pregnant and vital as voice itself, written in a fluvial prose, all embracing and illuminating.”142

Emerson in Russia

78Emerson’s arch-individualistic and anti-communitarian views, as well as his ideas on capitalism and property, did not bode well for his future reception in either Revolutionary or Cold War Russia. But decades before, during Emerson’s last trip to Europe in 1872-1873, he had met Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) in Paris. Turgenev had earlier alluded to Emerson in his novel Ottsi i Dyeti (Fathers and Sons, 1862), deriding him by association with the women’s movement via a fictional, faux-intellectual Russian woman and the real-life novelist George Sand. The greater Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) more fully commented on Emerson in his diaries, more positively than Turgenev on the whole and over many more years.

6.21 Leo Tolstoy at 59, 1887.

  • 143 L. Tolstoy, 24 March 1858, Tolstoy’s Diaries (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985), 2: 49. Here (...)
  • 144 L. Tolstoy, 12, 13 May 1884, TD 2: 214.
  • 145 L. Tolstoy, 22 May 1894, in ibid.
  • 146 See K. W. Cameron, Emerson and Thoreau in Europe: The Transcendental Influence (Hartford: Transcend (...)
  • 147 S. A. Tolstaya, The Diaries of Sofia Tolstaya (London: Cape, 1985), 441.

79At age thirty, Tolstoy began with qualified praise of Emerson for his essays on Goethe and Shakespeare.143 By his late fifties, after remarking that Emerson “is good” (possibly referring to “Experience”), Tolstoy told himself, “Read Emerson. Profound, bold, but often capricious and confused.”144 Finally, in his late sixties, he exultantly found that “Self-Reliance” was “marvelous.”145 In 1900, his publishing house, Posrednik (The Intermediary) printed an abridged version of the essay, followed two years later by a version of “The Over-Soul,” followed by several others.146 Tolstoy’s wife and other family members also read Emerson.147

  • 148 L. Tolstoy, Path of Life, trans. Maureen Cote (Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2002), 15, (...)
  • 149 L. Tolstoy, January 3, 1890, in TD 1: 275. Several sources report this anecdote of unclear origin.

80In Tolstoy’s essay “Message to the American People” (1901), he encouraged U. S. readers to rediscover their writers of the 1850s. He listed “Garrison, Parker, Emerson, Ballou, and Thoreau, not as the greatest, but as those who, I think, specially influenced me.” In his preface to Polenz’s Büttnerbauer (1895), he had already included “Emerson, Thoreau, Lowell, Whittier” in “the great galaxy” of American literature. And his two collections of classic wisdom, The Cycle of Reading (1906) and Path of Life (begun in 1910), included many Emerson excerpts.148 Quotations in the latter work were largely from “Self-Reliance.” But he also singled out a paragraph from the little-known essay, “Works and Days” (1870), affirming the idea that “each day is the best day,” each hour “a critical, decisive hour.” Of Emerson themes, Tolstoy commented on immortality, the importance of living “outside” time, and prioritizing the depth of one’s life above its duration. In yet another diary entry, Tolstoy revealed Emerson’s weight with him: “Read: Emerson was told that the world would soon end. He replied: ‘Well, I think I can get along without it.’ Very important.”149

Toward the East

  • 150 R. Kipling, The Writings in Prose and Verse: Early Verse (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900), (...)
  • 151 W 9: 332.

81Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), yet another follower of Emerson who became a Nobel laureate in literature (1907), began reading Emerson’s poems when he was eight. Around 1880, the fifteen-year-old Kipling listed Emerson as his second choice after Whittier (another Emerson aficionado) on a school poll of students’ favorite poets. Four years later, Kipling wrote a poetic parody, “Kopra-Brahm,”150 dedicated to Emerson. An antic mix of ethereal and common material subjects, the poem’s first two lines are: “Cosmic force and Cawnpore leather/Hold my walking-boots together.” (“Cawnpore leather” deliberately mauled the pronunciation of an Indian hide from the city of Kanpur.) Kipling’s poem draws heavily on images and characters from Emerson, notably “Brahma, to which the title alludes, but also to one of Emerson’s “Fragments on the poet and the poetic gift,” where he whimsically boasted, “[The poet] could condense cerulean ether/Into the very best sole-leather.”151 A native Englishman born in Bombay and educated in Britain, Kipling returned to live in India for several years. Then for four years (1892-1896), he was in Vermont, where he met Emerson’s friend, Charles Eliot Norton. Norton corresponded with young Kipling and admired his poetry. He also gave him books, including his own edition of the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence (1894), reinforcing Kipling’s strong boyhood memories of Emerson.

6.22 J. Rudyard Kipling at about 34, c. 1899.

  • 152 R. Kipling [mostly 1889], Letters of Travel (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1920), 13. Kipling q (...)
  • 153 R. Kipling, From Sea to Sea (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2004), 291.
  • 154 R. Kipling, Something of Myself (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 78.

82Apparently Kipling was also drawn to Emerson’s essays — even to obscure ones.152 As Emerson had done, Kipling also introduced his prose with poems, or quoted Emerson directly. Quotations from “Give All to Love” prefaced Kipling’s “The Children of the Zodiac” (1891), and others from “Brahma” for The Day’s Work (1898). When Kipling left India for Japan in 1889, he introduced his impressions of the new country via quotes, with a slight final variant, from Emerson’s “Woodnotes, II.”153 Kipling’s poem “The Inventor,” in The Muse among the Motors (1904), is dedicated to Emerson, emulating his style and themes, but with a more regular rhythm. It presents a Benjamin Franklin-like figure who reflects Emerson’s Promethean desires: his fascination with power, the overcoming of space and time, and a hope for the renewal of man. In a late memoir, Something of Myself (1937), Kipling retained his earlier allegiance to Emerson, quoting a little known fragment from his May-Day and Other Pieces (1867).154

  • 155 Kipling first published “If” in Rewards and Fairies (London: Macmillan & Co., 1910), 181-82.

83Emerson’s pervasive presence in Kipling appears in his famous “If” (1895), which once competed with Poe’s “Raven” as the West’s best-known poem. While composing it, Kipling was in close contact with Norton and also re-reading Emerson. “If” concentrates and popularizes both Emerson’s ideas and spirit: “trust yourself,” “don’t look too good, nor talk too wise,” “start again at your beginnings,” “talk with crowds and keep your virtue,/Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,” “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it/And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!”155

84From the stanza that heads this chapter, Emerson’s phrase —“a subtle chain of countless rings”— concisely sets the stage for humanity’s progressive evolution. Insight makes it possible: “The eye reads omens where it goes,/And speaks all languages the rose....” The meanings gained collectively define the “rose,” what may be known about creation and ourselves. Such knowledge is universal since it “speaks all languages.” Emerson’s climactic ending, “And, striving to be man, the worm/Mounts through all the spires of form,” alludes to just the sort of unified effort that he, his Western educators, and followers all symbolize: the human mind, perpetually advancing from its lowliest origins, spirals upward to new heights of consciousness.

Notes

1 The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, eds. Robert E. Spiller, et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971-2013), 6: 78. Hereafter CW.

2 P. S. Field, Ralph Waldo Emerson (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 61.

3 CW 3: 21.

4 The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 16 vols., eds. William H. Gilman, et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960-1982), 8: 430. Hereafter JMN.

5 CW 10: 113, 247.

6 R. W. Emerson, 12 March 1833, journal entry, Emerson in His Journals, ed. Joel Porte (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), 99; CW 2: 126.

7 “The Fortune of the Republic,” Emerson’s Antislavery Writings, eds. Len Gougeon and Joel Myerson (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), 139, 140-41.

8 CW 6: 77.

9 A. Barnechea, Peregrinos de la lengua (Madrid: Alfaguara, 1997), 39.

10 J. L. Borges, W. Barnstone, Borges at Eighty: Conversations (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1982), 38.

11 “The Other Death” (1949), in The Aleph (New York: Penguin, 1949), 58.

12 This preference was despite his admiration of “The Poet,” knowledge of little-known essays, and having translated Representative Men, De los héroes. Hombres representativos (Buenos Aires: Jackson, 1949).

13 J. L. Borges and O. Ferrari, En diálogo (Mexico [sic]: Siglo XXI, 2005), 141-42, 213.

14 S. Rodman, J. L. Borges, Tongues of Fallen Angels (New York: New Directions, 1974), 14.

15 J. L. Borges and O. Ferrari, En diálogo, 136.

16 Ibid., 141.

17 Ibid., 213.

18 J. L. Borges, Other Inquisitions, trans. by R. L. C. Simms (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1964), 69.

19 Ibid., 10.

20 Recorded and quoted by R. J. Christ, The Narrow Act (New York: Lumen Books, 1995), 45-46.

21 José Martí, Obras Completas (La Habana: Editorial Nacional de Cuba, 1964), 13: 18-23, 30.

22 Ibid., 17: 154, 324-27. “José Martí,” http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/marti.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Mart%C3%AD; http://www.biography.com/people/jos%C3%A9-mart%C3%AD-20703847

23 J. S. Mill, August 2, 1833, in The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill 1812-1848 (Toronto and London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963), 171.

24 Jane W. Carlyle to Emerson, November 7, 1838, The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1883) 1: 192. Hereafter, CCE.

25 T. Carlyle to Emerson, Feb. 13, 1837, CCE 1: 112.

26 T. Carlyle to Emerson, Dec. 8, 1837, CCE 1: 142.

27 Ibid.

28 H. Martineau, Retrospect of Western Travel (London: Saunders & Otley, 1838), 203-04. Martineau’s Retrospect and her Society in America (1837) have been compared to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835, 1840).

29 T. Carlyle to Emerson, February 8, 1839, CCE 1: 217.

30 T. Carlyle to Emerson, May 8, 1841, CCE 1: 352.

31 T. Carlyle to John Sterling, December 18, 1841, The New England Transcendentalists and the Dial, ed. J. Myerson (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1980), 73.

32 JMN 11: 172.

33 Eliot to S. Hennell, July 1848, in The George Eliot Letters, ed. Gordon S. Haight (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1954), 1: 270. Hereafter GEL.

34 Eliot to S. Hennell, August 27, 1860, GEL 3: 337.

35 See E. Fontana, “George Eliot’s Romola and Emerson’s ‘The American Scholar,’” ELN, 32, 1995.

36 Eliot to Oscar Browning, May 8, 1870, GEL 5: 93.

37 GEL 6: 327.

38 CW 5: 12.

39 Ibid., 166.

40 Wordsworth to H. Reed, August 16, 1841, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 7: 230-31.

41 CW 5: 168.

42 T. Carlyle to Emerson, April 6, 1870, CCE 2: 324.

43 Leslie Stephen, “Emerson,” Studies of a Biographer (London: Duckworth & Co., 1902), 3.

44 V. Woolf, Night and Day (1919), ed. J. Briggs (London and New York: Penguin, 1992), 38.

45 V. Woolf, “Emerson’s Journals” (1910), The Essays of Virginia Woolf: 1904-1912, ed. A. McNeillie (London: Hogarth Press, 1986), 1: 339.

46 D. Richardson, Pilgrimage (London: Dent, Cresset Press, 1938), 3: 41, 128; 4: 545. On Emersonian sources in Pilgrimage and in Richardson’s letters, see G. H. Thompson, Notes on Pilgrimage: Dorothy Richardson Annotated (Greensboro, NC: ELT Press, 1999), 97, 140, 144, 250.

47 O. Wilde, “The Soul of Man under Socialism,” The Soul of Man. De Profundis. The Ballad of Reading Gaol, ed. Isobel Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 13.

48 For Wilde’s judgment on Emerson as a poet, see his interview, January 16, 1882, cited in R. Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (New York: Vintage Books, 1988), 167.

49 O. Wilde, “Art and the Handicraftsman,” June 2, 1882, Essays and Lectures (Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2007), 103-14.

50 O. Wilde and Rennell Rodd, Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf (Philadelphia, PA: J. M. Stoddart & Co., 1882), 18.

51 In 1885, Wilde wrote to A. P. T. Elder, editor of a fledgling American literary journal: “I see no limit to the future in art of a country which has already given us Emerson, that master of moods....” The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. Merlin Holland (New York: Fourth Estate, 2003), 249.

52 O. Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism (article, Fortnightly Review XLIX: 290, February 1891, 292-319; book, 1904). See O. Wilde, Soul of Man (1999), 11-13: 114, 197-98, 200-02, 204-06, 209-10, 212-16.

53 O. Wilde, Oscar Wilde: The Major Works (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 61.

54 O. Wilde, Soul of Man (1999), 114.

55 J. C. Powys, One Hundred Books (New York: G. A. Shaw, 1916), 26.

56 See, for example, studies by Hubbard, Stack, Cavell, Kateb, Lopez, Conant, Mikics, Bloom, Zavatta, and others.

57 Die Führung des Lebens, trans. E. S. von Mühlberg (Leipzig: Steinacker, 1862); Versuche (I and II series), trans. G. Fabricius (Hannover: Meyer, 1858).

58 G. J. Stack, Nietzsche and Emerson: An Elective Affinity (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1992), 34.

59 In a chapter draft, “Why I Am So Wise,” Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals. Ecce Homo, eds. W. Kaufmann, et al. (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 25.

60 G. J. Stack, “Nietzsche’s Earliest Essays: Translation of and Commentary on Fate and History and Freedom of Will and Fate,” in Philosophy Today, 37 (1993), 153-69. On the connection with Heidegger’s Nietzsche (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 1: 134; see translators’ notes, D. F. Krell and Stanley Cavell, Philosophical Passages (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1995), 40.

61 See, for example, Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Preface, aphorism 56; The Antichrist; The Will to Power, especially sections 751-53.

62 M. Montinari, Reading Nietzsche (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 71-72.

63 CW 6: 31.

64 For both writers on power, see Emerson, CW 6: 30-32; and Nietzsche’s Writings from the Late Notebooks (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), especially 15, 50, 73, 134.

65 CW 6: 134-35, 137-39.

66 “The Sovereignty of Ethics” (1878), The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. E. W. Emerson (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1903-1904), 10: 199. Hereafter W. See also Emerson’s “Circles,” “Illusions,” “Works and Days,” and the first part of “Poetry and Imagination.” Cf. Nietzsche’s representative views, “Afterworldsmen,” Thus spoke Zarathustra (London and New York: Penguin, 1961), 58-60.

67 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. W. Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), 273.

68 CW 2: 179.

69 CW 6: 12-13. See also E. W. Emerson’s CW of RWE 6: 24.

70 In a draft for The Genealogy of Morals (1887) in Sämtliche Werke: kritische Studienausgabe in 15 Bänden (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 1974), 7: 3, 220-21. Hereafter SW.

71 CW 6: 135; Nietzsche, The Will to Power (New York: Vintage, 1968), 506.

72 See M. Ferraris, “Storia della volontà di potenza,” in Nietzsche, La volontà di potenza (Milano: Bompiani, 1994), 615. See Colli and Montinari’s notes to SW. Georges Bataille had shown similar manipulations by Nietzsche’s cousin R. Oehler in “Nietzsche et les fascistes,” Acéphale, January 21, 1937, 3-11.

73 Ernst Bertram, Nietzsche. Versuch einer Mythologie (Berlin: Bondi, 1918).

74 H. Bund, Nietzsche als Prophet des Sozialismus (Breslau: Trewendt & Granier, 1919).

75 F. Haiser, Die Judenfrage vom Standpunkt der Herrenmoral: Rechtsvölkische und linksvölkische Weltanschauung (Leipzig: Weicher, 1926); A. Schickedanz, Das Judentum, eine Gegenrasse (Leipzig: Weicher, 1927).

76 For example, see A. Baeumler, Nietzsche, der Philosoph und Politiker (Leipzig: Reclam, 1931); F. Mess, Nietzsche: Der Gesetzgeber (Leipzig: F. Meiner, 1930).

77 M. Ferraris, “Storia,” in La volontà di potenza, 648.

78 C. Diethe, Nietzsche’s Sister and The Will to Power (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 151-52.

79 R. Oehler, Nietzsche und deutsche Zukunft [Nietzsche and the Future of Germany] (Leipzig: Armanen, 1935).

80 In Nazi Germany in the 1930s, E. Baumgarten was the principal student of the Emerson-Nietzsche relationship, Der Pragmatismus. R. W. Emerson, W. James, J. Dewey (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1938), 81-96; and secondarily, J. Simon, Ralph Waldo Emerson in Deutschland (1851-1932) (Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt, 1937) and H. Hildebrand, Die Amerikanische Stellung zur Geschichte und zu Europa in Emersons Gedankensystem (Bonn: Verlag Hanstein, 1936). For Heidegger’s censorship, see M. Lopez in “Emerson and Nietzsche: An Introduction”, ESQ, 43 (1997), 1-35.

81 G. Zachariae, Mussolini si confessa (Milano: Garzanti, 1948), 25.

82 G. Howes has extensively shown Emerson’s influence in his “Robert Musil and the Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson” (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1985). See also H. Hickman’s studies of 1980 and 1984 on the young Musil.

83 Essays: Erste Folge (Leipzig: Diederichs, 1902). It included “Self-Reliance,” “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” “Compensation,” “Heroism,” “History,” “The Poet,” and Emerson’s early lecture on “Literary Ethics.”

84 R. Musil, Diaries: 1899-1941 (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 23.

85 Notebook II, 25. VII; CW 3: 6.

86 R. Musil, Tagebücher, ed. A. Frisé (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1976), 2: 1099, cited in Howes (1985), 221.

87 R. Musil, “Geist und Erfahrung,” Das neue Merkur (1921), 3: 12.

88 J. Simon, RWE in Deutschland (1937), first vaguely recognized Emerson’s influence; Ernst Zinn solidified the connection in his edition of Rilke, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt: Insel-Verlag, 1955-1966), as did Jan Wojcik, in “Emerson and Rilke: A Significant Influence?” Modern Language Notes 91 (1976), 565-74 and Marilyn Vogler Urion, “Emerson’s Presence in Rilke’s Imagery: Shadows of Early Influence,” Monatshefte für Deutschen Unterricht, Deutsche Sprache und Literatur (1993), 85: 153-69. Das neue Merkur (1921), 3: 12.

89 Dähnert’s edition (Leipzig: Reclam, 1897) included: “Circles,” “Compensation,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Love,” “The Over-Soul,” “Art,” “The Poet,” “Character,” and “Nature” (1844).

90 CW 2: 188.

91 R. M. Rilke, “Notes on the Melody of Things,” in his The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams, trans. D. Searls (Boston, Mass.: David R. Godine, 2009).

92 CW 3: 6.

93 R. M. Rilke, Notes, section XVI.

94 For example, see J. Ryan, The Vanishing Subject (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 53. On Emerson’s possible influences on Rilke’s most mature works, see J. Ryan’s discussion of the 1918 poem “To Music,” Rilke, Modernism and Poetic Tradition (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 161-62.

95 R. M. Rilke, Intérieurs, section XIII, Werke (Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchges, 1996), 4: 98-99.

96 A. Mickiewicz, Les slaves (Paris: Comptoir des imprimeurs réunis, 1849), 216-17, 456-57. Megan Marshall, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), 286-87.

97 See M. Z. Markiewicz, “Mickiewicz vulgarisateur d’Emerson,” Revue de littérature comparée (1955), 29.

98 A. Mickiewicz, Les slaves, 457.

99 E. Montégut, a friend of Baudelaire, also wrote on Emerson; see “Un penseur et un poète américain,” Revue des deux mondes, August 1, 1847. On the Emerson-Baudelaire relationship, see Dudley M. Marchi’s “Baudelaire’s America — Contrary Affinities,” Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 47 (2000), 37-52.

100 See Montégut’s preface, Essais de philosophie américaine (Paris: Charpentier, 1850).

101 C. Baudelaire, My Heart Laid Bare (New York: Vanguard, 1951), 186 (my translation).

102 C. Pichois, J.-P. Avice, Dictionnaire Baudelaire (Tusson, Charente: Du Lérot, 2002), 65.

103 C. Baudelaire, Eugene Delacroix: His Life and Work (New York: Lear Publishers, 1947), 44 (text re-translation mine).

104 D. M. Marchi, has suggested this kind of shift, as possibly stimulated by reading Emerson. Marchi, Baudelaire’s America, 52.

105 H. Bergson, “Speech, France-America Society on March 12, 1917,” Mélanges, ed. André Robinet (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1972), 1244.

106 Idem, “The Theories of Free Will” (Lecture series given at the Collège de France in 1906-1907), Mélanges, 718.

107 H. Bergson to Prof. J. Chevalier, February 1836, in Bergson 1972, 1543.

108 E. H. Cady and L. J. Budd state that James, in his copy of the “Nominalist and Realist,” “wrote ‘Bergson,’ by the sentence: ‘It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight.’” On Emerson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988), 53.

109 M. Proust letter of 1895, Lettres à Reynaldo Hahn (Paris: Gallimard, 1956), 34.

110 Partly translated in Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, trans. J. Sturrock (London, New York: Penguin Books, 1988) and in The Lemoine Affair, trans. Charlotte Mandell (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2008).

111 M. Proust, The Guermantes Way, trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, et al. (New York: Modern Library, 2003), 377.

112 Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959 (Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2008), 28. The Emerson quotation is from “Worship” (1860), but Camus may have found it in Emerson’s Journals of 1846, JMN 9: 452.

113 Camus, Notebooks, 22. Emerson’s journal entry of 27 February 1870, may have been the source for the dangers of criticism and on the necessity of affirmation, while ones of 7 October 1863: “An impassive temperament is a great fortune,” and “Temperament is fortune” (JMN 10: 40) might have been the sources for Camus’s last sentence.

114 Camus, Notebooks, 26; JMN 8: 79. The source of the first and third sentences is unclear.

115 Camus, Discours de Suède (Paris: Gallimard, 1958), 30. The Emerson quotation, present in Camus’ journals of 1951-1952, appears to have been either a mistranslation or an inaccurate quotation from memory, probably deriving from Emerson’s comment “obedience to a man’s genius is the particular of Faith: by and by, I shall come to the universal of Faith.” JMN 9: 62.

116 Emerson refers to hope as based on the infinity of the world, saying that “every wall is a gate.” JMN 9: 137.

117 D’Annunzio’s first documented reference to Nietzsche appears in Il Mattino, September 25, 1892.

118 D’Annunzio, “Una tendenza,” Il Mattino, January 30-31, 1893, Interviste a D’Annunzio (Lanciano: Carabba, 2002), 53.

119 Ibid., cf., Emerson, CW 3: 12.

120 Interview, January 1895, in D’Annunzio “Una tendenza,” 55. D’Annunzio’s knowledge of Representative Men clearly predated his 1904 copy, in which he highlighted many passages.

121 CW 3: 17, 18. Interview with F. Pastonchi, La Stampa, October 1, 1899, in D’Annunzio “Una tendenza,” 18.

122 Emerson, Les forces eternelles et autres essais, trans. K. Johnston, with preface by B. Perry (Paris: Mercure de France, 1912), 147. This edition includes “Perpetual Forces,” “The Method of Nature,” “Circles,” “The Tragic,” “Friendship,” “Woman” (D’Annunzio’s library, Vittoriale).

123 Ibid., 18, marked by d’Annunzio with a strong left line.

124 Ibid., 19, marked by d’Annunzio with left and right lines.

125 Gabriele D’Annunzio, ed. J. de Blasi (Florence: Sansoni, 1939), 200.

126 A. Bonadeo, D’Annunzio and the Great War (Madison, WI: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995), 146.

127 B. Mussolini, “La filosofia della forza,” Il pensiero romagnolo, November 29, December 6, 13 (2008).

128 As Denis Mack Smith suggested in his Mussolini (New York: Knopf, 1982), 132. On the Emerson-Mussolini relationship see Giorgio Mariani, “Read with Mussolini”, eds. G. Mariani, et al., 123-31.

129 B. Mussolini, “United Press” interview, December 21, 1925, 123.

130 B. Mussolini, Radio message of January 20, 1931, 123-24.

131 G. Zachariae, Mussolini si confessa (Milano: Garzanti, 1948), 42.

132 Margherita G. Sarfatti, foreword by Benito Mussolini, The Life of Benito Mussolini (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2004), 88. The quotation’s possible source might be “Immortality” (Italian translation, 1931): “Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it.” E. W. Emerson’s CW of RWE 8: 328.

133 Jean McClure Mudge, The Poet and the Dictator: Lauro de Bosis Resists Fascism in Italy and America (Greenwood, CT: Praeger, 2002), 2, 58-60.

134 In G. Mariani, “The (Mis) Fortune of Emerson in Italy,” Anglistica 6: 1 (2002), 103-31.

135 Ibid., 110.

136 Caterina Ricciardi, “Ralph Waldo Emerson and Elio Vittorini,” Emerson at 2000, 113-21.

137 Ibid.

138 La Stampa, 25 May 2003, 19.

139 Libero, 2 July 2008, 29.

140 Corriere della Sera, 9 September 2008, 43.

141 A. Rigoni, Corriere della Sera, 14 January 2008, 35.

142 Avvenire, 29 June 2008, 18.

143 L. Tolstoy, 24 March 1858, Tolstoy’s Diaries (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985), 2: 49. Hereafter, TD. He read Herman Grimm’s German translation of Emerson (1857).

144 L. Tolstoy, 12, 13 May 1884, TD 2: 214.

145 L. Tolstoy, 22 May 1894, in ibid.

146 See K. W. Cameron, Emerson and Thoreau in Europe: The Transcendental Influence (Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1999), 118.

147 S. A. Tolstaya, The Diaries of Sofia Tolstaya (London: Cape, 1985), 441.

148 L. Tolstoy, Path of Life, trans. Maureen Cote (Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2002), 15, 81, 87, 92, 148, 151-52, 170, 205, 208, 233, 255, 260, 262, 273, 306.

149 L. Tolstoy, January 3, 1890, in TD 1: 275. Several sources report this anecdote of unclear origin.

150 R. Kipling, The Writings in Prose and Verse: Early Verse (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900), 90.

151 W 9: 332.

152 R. Kipling [mostly 1889], Letters of Travel (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1920), 13. Kipling quotes Emerson in “Success” on Euripides’ comment about Zeus whom he says “hates busy-bodies and those who do too much.”

153 R. Kipling, From Sea to Sea (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2004), 291.

154 R. Kipling, Something of Myself (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 78.

155 Kipling first published “If” in Rewards and Fairies (London: Macmillan & Co., 1910), 181-82.

Table des illustrations

Légende 6.1 Plato, copy Silanion portrait, c. 370 B. C. E.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-1.jpg
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Légende 6.2 Emanuel Swedenborg, before 1818.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-2.jpg
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Légende 6.3 Michel de Montaigne, [n. d.].
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-3.jpg
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Légende 6.4 William Shakespeare at 46, 1610.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-4.jpg
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Légende 6.5 Napolean Bonaparte at 43, 1812.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-5.jpg
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Légende 6.6 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at 79, 1828.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-6.jpg
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Légende 6.7 Dante Alighieri, after 1841.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-7.jpg
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Légende 6.8 Jorge Luis Borges at 77, 1976.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-8.jpg
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Légende 6.9 José Martí at 41, 1894.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-9.jpg
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Légende 6.10 William Wordsworth at 69, 1839.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-10.jpg
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Légende 6.11 Thomas Carlyle in his 60s, c. 1860s.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-11.jpg
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Légende 6.12 Oscar Wilde at 28, c. 1882.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-12.jpg
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Légende 6.13 Friedrich Nietzsche at about 31, c. 1875.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-13.jpg
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Légende 6.14 Adam Mickiewicz at 44, 1842.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-14.jpg
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Légende 6.15 Charles Baudelaire at 41, c. 1862.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-15.jpg
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Légende 6.16 Henri Bergson at 68, 1927.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-16.jpg
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Légende 6.17 Marcel Proust at 21, 1892.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-17.jpg
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Légende 6.18 Albert Camus at 44, 1957.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-18.jpg
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Légende 6.19 Gabriele D’Annunzio, early 20th century.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-19.jpg
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Légende 6.20 Benito Mussolini at 40 presides over Fascists’ first anniversary celebration.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Légende 6.21 Leo Tolstoy at 59, 1887.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-21.jpg
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Légende 6.22 J. Rudyard Kipling at about 34, c. 1899.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2302/img-22.jpg
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