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The Messiah of Nature:
Transatlantic Idealism and the Early Emerson

Giuseppe Nori

According to Richard Poirier, the "most famous and often quoted passage in all of Emerson" is when the speaker "declares himself a transparent eyeball" (Emerson xvi). References to this passage recur in Richard Poirier's reflections and writings almost obsessively. In fact, this passage from Nature (1836) may be related to some of Poirier's sharpest insights: from his view of "the ideal type of the self-expressive man" that "Emerson invented" (World 63) to his recognition of the various "efforts" at "writing off the self," traced, through many powerful "stylistic moments in the Emersonian line," from classic American literature to Modernism (Renewal 200); from his probing into the American writer's impossibility "to escape language" (Poetry 134-35) to his readings of that typical "condition of imaginative impoverishment or bareness" that characterizes America and her artists ("Abolishing Individualism" 17). Following some of Poirier's critical preoccupations from the 1960s to roughly 2000, I will get back, eventually, to the 1836 passage itself, by way of reopening the question of a romantic "philosophy of life," as Emerson called it in "The American Scholar," within a larger Transatlantic context. I want, that is, to revisit "certain images of American romantic idealism" (World 70) through the intellectual problematics of idealism itself.

I propose to do this not only as a European scholar who happened to be a graduate student in the United States, but as an Americanist who, like Poirier, resists the "stifling parochialism" of his field. For Poirier, this involves reading "literature in English, which just happens to be the language in which American literature is written" (Trying 169). For me, it involves as well comparative studies of Continental literature in the Romantic period—which, through many exchanges and negotiations, shaped the British literature Poirier refers to, which in turn bound young American intellectuals to the so-called "Atlantic double-cross." I share, then, Poirier's (and John Hollander's) larger assumption that "works of literature are flexibly bound one to another, despite national boundaries," in an "intricate and mysterious network of connections," of "echoes and reflections" (170). This assumption is not exclusively formal or esthetic (or "stylistic," to use Poirier's preferred term), but also political and ideological, as Poirier reminds us: "not merely American literature but literature as an institution has, since at least the English Renaissance, been complicit with governing economic, political, and social systems, even when it has seemed to oppose them" (171-72).

1.
In the annus mirabilis 1836, two notable events were destined to remain as outstanding examples of the "Atlantic double-cross." Nature, the book that Emerson had in his mind since his journey back from Europe in 1833, had finally been published in Boston, by James Munroe and Company, on September 9. Exactly five months earlier, on April 9, for the same Boston publisher, Sartor Resartus, by Thomas Carlyle, Emerson's new friend beyond the ocean, was printed for the first time in book form, with Emerson very actively seeing it through the press. Emerson, then, may be said to have launched his literary career with the publication of two books, thus entering the New England cultural scene, at age thirty-three, in his double capacity as a vicarious author (or Carlyle's ransatlantic agent) on one side, and as an ambitious, though anonymous, New World debutant-author on the other. Reviewing the early Emerson from this double authorial standpoint, my purpose is to address his "theory of nature" (7) with the romantic and idealist assumptions of the "philosophy of clothes" put forward by Carlyle's eccentric German hero, Diogenes Teufelsdröckh. Teufelsdröckh's "system of thought" is introduced, casually but significantly, by Carlyle's narrator, an unnamed reviewer who has announced himself to the British reader as "Editor" of Teufelsdröckh's strange treatise "on the subject of clothes":

however it may be with Metaphysics, and other abstract Science originating in the Head (Verstand) alone, no Life-Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie), such as this of Clothes pretends to be, which originates equally in the Character (Gemüth), and equally speaks thereto, can attain its significance till the Character itself is known and seen. (58)

As a science, Lebensphilosophie stands out against other sciences or systems "originating in the Head," here rendered with Verstand ("Understanding"), a term that, in Coleridge's and Carlyle's version of German idealism, comes to be opposed to Vernunft ("Reason"). The genesis of Teufelsdröckh's "system of thought," where "Clothes-Philosophy" and Life-Philosophy conflate, lies in the fundamental ontological question that all "men of a speculative turn" sooner or later come to ask themselves "in wonder and fear": "Who am I; the thing that can say 'I' (das Wesen das sich Ich nennt)?"; "Who am I; what is this Me?" This "unanswerable question" leads man to establish a silent communion with the universe (42). This relation is explored through another fundamental dichotomy of post-Kantian idealism—"Ich and Nicht-Ich (I and Not-I)"—that Carlyle had explained in 1829, through a synopsis of Fichte's philosophy of the subject, in an essay on Novalis.

The "Not-I" fosters "the answer" to the I's question. This "answer lies around" us, "written" and "uttered" in "thousand-figured, thousand-voiced, harmonious Nature," though it can be grasped only by that I who knows how to read it and hear it when matter and the world of nature dissolve as transparent vestments, to disclose the spirit and the "reflex" of the I himself:

"So that this so solid-seeming World, after all, were but an air-image, our Me the only reality: and Nature, with its thousand-fold production and destruction, but the reflex of our own inward Force, the 'phantasy of our Dream'; or what the Earth-Spirit in Faust names it, the living visible Garment of God." (44)

"It was in some such mood," Teufelsdröckh tells us, "that I first came upon the question of Clothes" (44). The transcendental tenets introduced and variously reiterated in this final section of Book First place the Professor's philosophy of clothes within the romantic tradition of the philosophy of life and the philosophy of nature. In the chapter "Characteristics," the Editor had already assumed that the Professor's "humor of looking at all Matter and Material things as Spirit" derived from "his Transcendental Philosophies" (23). Now he confirms the assumption. Whether "despicable" or "honourable," "Matter ... is Spirit, the manifestation of Spirit." Similarly, the "thing Visible, nay the thing Imagined, the thing in any way conceived as Visible, what is it," Teufelsdröckh asks, "but a Garment, a Clothing of the higher, celestial Invisible"? (52).

2.
If matter is spirit, then "Man is a Spirit" too, while the clothes he wears are "visible emblems" of his spiritual nature (48). "A Soul, a Spirit, and divine Apparition," man has a body, the Professor tells us, that "under all those wool-rags" is also a clothing, "a Garment of Flesh (or of Senses), contextured in the Loom of Heaven," wrapped "round his mysterious ME." If man himself is "an Emblem; a Clothing or visible Garment for that divine ME," then language "is the Flesh-Garment, the Body, of Thought" (51, 57). In a concentric pattern, up to the largest circle, nature—the world, the Ficthean Nicht-Ich or "Not-Me"—is a "Vesture," or "Living Garment of God," within which the Ich or "Me" is destined to re-discover himself.

The Editor will reiterate this belief at the end of Book Second, when he brings to a climax Teufelsdröckh's story in "The Everlasting Yea." He acknowledges the idealistic ontology of the "Living Garment" through which God himself "speaks" and "lives and loves":

"Or what is Nature? Ha! why do I not name thee God? Art not thou the 'Living Garment of God'? O Heavens, is it, in very deed, He, then, that ever speaks through thee; that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in me?" (143)

"Nature," "God," "me." In addition to quoting from Goethe's Faust ('Living Garment of God'), Carlyle here puts forward a definition of nature that he had already ascribed to Novalis, the poet-philosopher who embodies the evolution of post-Kantian idealism at its most original and concise, that Novalis derived from Fichte's philosophy of the subject, through Schelling's philosophy of nature, to the philosophy of life that he himself had partly worked out together with his friend and mentor, Friedrich Schlegel.

Carlyle traces an outline of German idealism around Novalis's fragmentary work, in which he briefly illustrates not only the "far-famed" dichotomy "Ich and Nicht-Ich (I and Not-I)," but also the opposition between "Reason" and "Understanding":

We allude to the recognition, by these Transcendentalists, of a higher faculty in man than Understanding; of Reason (Vernunft), the pure, ultimate light of our nature; wherein, as they assert, lies the foundation of all Poetry, Virtue, Religion; things which are properly beyond the province of the Understanding, of which the Understanding can take no cognisance, except a false one. (27)

Five years later, in Sartor Resartus, Carlyle's Professor is teaching from and to this "higher faculty." "The beginning of all Wisdom," he states, "is to look fixedly on Clothes, or even with armed eyesight, till they become transparent" (52). He takes us with him on a transcendental journey into the realm of the "Not-Me." As night falls, we ride with Teufelsdröckh through the Black Forest, and with him we discover that "Nature [is] not an Aggregate but a Whole," where God, whom we know "only by tradition" (as Emerson will tell us, too, in the opening of Nature), is a "FORCE." In a true philosophy of life, nothing in Nature "is motionless; without Force, and utterly dead":

"As I rode through the Schwarzwald, I said to myself: That little fire which glows star-like across the dark-growing (nachtende) moor, where the sooty smith bends over his anvil, and thou hopest to replace thy lost horse-shoe,—is it a detached, separated speck, cut off from the whole Universe; or indissolubly joined to the whole? Thou fool, that smithy-fire was (primarily) kindled at the Sun; is fed by air that circulates from before Noah's Deluge, from beyond the Dog-star; therein, with Iron Force, and Coal Force, and the far stranger Force of Man, are cunning affinities and battles and victories of Force brought about; it is a little ganglion, or nervous centre, in the great vital system of Immensity. Call it, if thou wilt, an unconscious Altar, kindled on the bosom of the All; whose iron sacrifice, whose iron smoke and influence reach quite through the All; whose dingy Priest, not by word, yet by brain and sinew, preaches forth the mystery of Force; nay preaches forth (exoterically enough) one little textlet from the Gospel of Freedom, the Gospel of Man's Force, commanding, and one day to be all-commanding." (55-56)

Here, Teufelsdröckh's view of nature is taken up verbatim from Carlyle's essay on Novalis. Like the poet, Carlyle's Professor considers "Nature rather in the concrete, not analytically and as a divisible Aggregate, but as a self-subsistent universally connected Whole" (28). In Teufelsdröckh's horse ride, Carlyle gives us the core of the romantic philosophy of life: the "little fire which glows star-like across ... the moor." For Teufelsdröckh, as for Carlyle's Novalis, nature is then "no longer dead, hostile Matter, but the veil and mysterious Garment of the Unseen." For Emerson, too, "every thing in nature," as he writes in "Compensation," "contains all the powers of nature" (289). This view perceives every individuality, in all its multifarious manifestations, as a part reflecting the whole, an epitome of totality. "The drop," Emerson says in "The American Scholar," "is a small ocean." "A man," he continues, "is related to all nature" (68). Through an inverted process, by the same principle, the "world globes itself in a drop of water" (289). The part and the whole may be said to correspond and proceed reciprocally. If the single part is never "deatched" from the whole, then, within that spiritual interconnection which grounds it and ties it to the whole itself, the part is and works as "a little ganglion, or nervous centre, in the great vital system of Immensity," as Teufelsdröckh explains:

"Detached, separated! I say there is no such separation: nothing hitherto was ever stranded, cast aside; but all, were it only a withered leaf, works together with all; is borne forward on the bottomless, shoreless flood of Action, and lives through perpetual metamorphoses." (56)

Though inalienably unique and individual, the particular is vibrantly and indissolubly bound to the whole universe (and vice versa).

The "universe," Emerson says in "Compensation," "is represented in every one of its particles" (289), or, in "The Over-Soul," "is represented in an atom, in a moment of time" (400). By virtue of this mutual dependence, life in all its possible forms is neither diminished nor stagnant but accomplished and inexhaustible. Nothing is lost, but everything, Carlyle's German hero maintains, works and lives simultaneously in the "bosom of the All." Thus Teufelsdröckh's "philosophic eye" redeems even the "meanest object" from any possible depreciation:

The withered leaf is not dead and lost, there are Forces in it and around it, though working in inverse order; else how could it rot? Despise not the rag from which man makes Paper, or the litter from which the Earth makes Corn. Rightly viewed, no meanest object is insignificant; all objects are as windows, through which the philosophic eye looks into Infinitude itself. (56)

"Putrefaction is loathsome," Emerson says in his 1838 lecture titled "The School"; "but putrefaction seen as a step in the circle of nature, pleases" (49). And it is exactly within this "circle of nature" that things represent a universe that, in turn, embraces them, a universe that, reciprocally, the parts enclose and reflect out. As such, they are witnesses and individual agents of what Emerson in Nature calls "central Unity" (30) or, later, "central nature," "central life," "central identity." "For every object has its roots in central nature," Emerson explains in "Art," "and may of course be so exhibited to us as to represent the world" (256, 412, 433, 631, 676). In Nature, he illustrates this vital correspondence between the part and the whole:

A leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole and partakes of the perfection of the whole. Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world. (29-30)

This conflation of nature philosophy and life philosophy may be viewed as the result of a long Platonic and Neo-Platonic tradition. It was powerfully revived and revised in the century of Herder and Goethe, partly in reaction to the normative ideals of Enlightenment thought, and it then pervaded all areas of romantic culture, unsettling literature, theology, philosophy, and history. It was this tradition on which Schelling, going back to the "ancient idea" of a Weltseele (Emerson's "universal soul" in Nature, his "Over-Soul" in 1841), founded the concept of "organism," which implies the active presence of "spirit" and "life," and to which the opening lines of Blake's "Auguries of Innocence" stand as epigraph, epitomizing virtually uncountable statements of correspondence between the microscopic part and the whole. "To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower," Blake wrote commandingly, "Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour" (1: 138). At about the same time, as the nineteenth century began, Novalis had already theorized this fundamental "operation" of "romantic philosophy" along the same vertical axis of "elevation" (small to large) and "abasement"(large to small), He called it romantisieren, romanticizing the world:

The world must be romanticized. Then we may recover its original meaning. Romanticizing is nothing more than a qualitative potentiation. Through this operation the lower self is identified with the better self. In this manner we ourselves are such a qualitatively potentiating series. This operation is still entirely unknown. When I give the ordinary a higher meaning, the commonplace a mysterious aspect, the familiar the dignity of the unfamiliar, the finite an illusion of infinity, I romanticize it. The operation is inverted for the higher, unfamiliar, mystical, infinite - through this connection, it becomes logarithmized - and acquires a customary expression. Romantic philosophy. Lingua romana. Reciprocal elevation and abasement. (Fragmente 131)

And here, romantisieren, the finite becoming infinite, the infinite finite, moves horizontally across the Atlantic.

"I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low," Emerson says in "The American Scholar," romanticizing the world to Harvard Phi Beta Kappa students, the day after their graduation, on August 31, 1837. "The near explains the far," he continues, celebrating his pre-romantic and romantic literary heroes, from Goldsmith, Burns, and Cowper to Goethe, Wordsworth and Carlyle. In this address Emerson, invoking Swedenborg, calls this romantic vision a"philosophy of life" (68-69). (In 1850, in his essay on the Swedish mystic in Representative Men, he will call it "Identity-philosophy.") So Emerson "romanticizes" the world—and his New World in particular—filling his writings with idealistic fragments, echoes, and reflections (in Poirier's sense) that "spiritualize" matter. "There is no miracle," Novalis says in a fragment, "without a natural event and vice versa" (Writings 25). And vice versa, there is no natural event which is not, at the same time, a miracle. Emerson reiterates the claim in 1836, calling the "relation between the mind and matter" a "miracle" (24). And "to see the miraculous in the common," he says before closing, is the "invariable mark of wisdom" (47).

3.
In the first paragraph of his brief "Introduction" to Nature (7-8), Emerson is driven by the antinomian impulse of the radical tradition of New England Protestantism. With its biblical language, he frames an antagonistic speculation that wants to "interrogate" nature, the "great apparition," he says, echoing Teufelsdröckh, "that shines so peacefully around us": "Let us inquire, to what end is nature?" And if the "one aim" is "to find a theory of nature," then that theory must rest upon a solid premise (7). This, for the early Emerson, is the distinction we have looked at between "Me" and "Not-Me":

Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, NATURE. (8)

To enter into Nature means to follow Emerson into "Nature," as the first chapter is symptomatically titled, as if he wanted to duplicate and explicate, through the concrete example of a romantic excursion, the title of the book itself. "To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society," reads the opening sentence (9). Here, as Poirier has remarked, Emerson "sounds as if he were planning a trip to the country not with Wordsworth but with Addison and Steele." Emerson's "speaking 'I'," with "elegant presumptuousness" and "phrases of a genteel good taste," employs a style unable or unwilling to escape the social environment evoked by his own address to his readers. That "I," Poirier goes on to say, contrasts starkly with the "seeing 'eye'" of the "hyperbolic" performances about to be presented. Yet it is also true, I think, that the "antagonistic assumptions implicit in certain images of American romantic idealism," to which Poirier himself calls attention, can be revisited exactly here, where the "the particular works or passages" Emerson has drawn on create what Poirier calls "environments" (World 66-69). As we follow Emerson on his excursion into the country—into the universe of the "Not-Me"—we will find the territory familiar. It is not that of the the urbane Addison and Steele, but of Carlyle's Professor.

Besides the dichotomy between I and Not-I, posited in his "Introduction," Emerson invokes the opposition between "Reason" and "Understanding." After conflating the concept of "reason" with the notions of "universal soul" and "spirit" (21), he calls up the distinction between the two faculties (26) and apprentices them to nature as to a "discipline," of "[s]pace, time, society, labor, climate, food, locomotion, the animals, the mechanical forces":

Every property of matter is a school for the understanding,—its solidity or resistance, its inertia, its extension, its figure, its divisibility. The understanding adds, divides, combines, measures, and finds nutriment and room for its activity in this worthy scene. Meantime, Reason transfers all these lessons into its own world of thought, by perceiving the analogy that marries Matter and Mind. (26)

Reason's "analogy," Teufelsdröckh's correspondence, teaches us that "Matter exists only spiritually"; that we are "to regard nature as a phenomenon, not a substance" (33). For Emerson as for Carlyle, nature "always wears the colors of the spirit" (11). Nevertheless, Idealists' assertion that "matter is a phenomenon, not a substance" (40) is in itself reductive:

Idealism is a hypothesis to account for nature by other principles than those of carpentry and chemistry. Yet, if it only deny the existence of matter, it does not satisfy the demands of the spirit. It leaves God out of me. (41)

Again: Nature, God, me. "The noblest ministry of nature," Emerson says, "is to stand as the apparition of God" (40). And when nature appears as God, and God as nature, man is fully to find himself. "Nature is so pervaded with human life that there is something of humanity in all," Emerson says, "and in every particular" (41). Man, then, must only be taught to see the analogy.

This is Emerson's task as an educator, when he takes us with him to the realm of the "Not-Me." There we learn how to go beyond the boundaries of "the senses and the unrenewed understanding." Like Teufelsdröckh, Emerson wants us to see through the medium of transparency. "To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature" (10)—a phrase that Thoreau will often reiterate and dramatize in his writings. And the chief agency in this transcendental school of vision is the faculty that, through a synecdoche, he personifies as " the eye of Reason" (33), Teufelsdröckh's "armed eyesight." When this eye opens,

outlines and surfaces become transparent, and are no longer seen; causes and spirits are seen through them. The best moments of life are these delicious awakenings of the higher powers, and the reverential withdrawing of nature before its God. (33)

This is, as it were, an a posteriori explanation of those ecstatic "moments of life" that Emerson had already dramatized in the first chapter of the book, where he takes us in the morning to see the "integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects." We see a landscape, an environment. "Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond." But "none of them," Emerson teaches us, "owns the landscape":

There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title. (9)

He then has us cross a "bare common," "in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky." He has us walk with him through the sacred "woods" of the "Not-Me," where man can cast off the clothes of time, "as the snake his slough." Now he can see God in nature, be one with nature, and be with God himself:

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. [...] In the woods, we return to reason and faith. [...] Standing on the bare ground,—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances,‐master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. (10)

This experience of abandonment to the "higher agency" that makes objects transparent, makes the self a transparent object, too, the very organ of vision. The "transparent eye-ball" is in fact pure vision, the romanticized esthetic consciousness of Novalis. The "lower self," here "mean egotism," expands and fades away into brightness through vertical "elevation." Brought to the pinnacle of self-transparency, "uplifted into infinite space," at once magnified and dissolved to the point of being nothing and yet seeing all, the I / eye obliterates the concreteness of facts and givens, rises above social interactions and conflicts, and therefore makes historical life itself, though for a brief, ecstatic moment, irrelevant or totally unnecessary.

At the climax of this visionary experience, Emerson ends up, paradoxically, obscuring the historicity of life, perhaps even its facticity. Within the horizon of the dichotomy drawn by the "integrity of impression," the "timber of the wood-cutter," in all its actual and potential materiality, cannot vie with the immaterial "tree of the poet." By the same principle, the land divided into private properties behind the genteel tone finely noted by Poirier, makes a sorry spectacle in the face of that unownable "property in the horizon." Emerson enjoins man spiritually to re-possess the world of the "Not-Me," even though it will continue to be an object of land divisions and transactions. In the same fashion, Emerson urges us to re-transform the commons and the woods of New England into original "plantations of God." There, he shows us, it may still be possible to commune with the "Universal Being" and, by that communion ("part or particle"), divest ourselves of the constraints of society and the encumbrances of history.

These transcendental strategies, by an idealist whose declared purpose is to "interrogate" nature as the "apparition of God," should not be read as ideological mystifications or obfuscations of the facticity and the historicity of reality. In fact, beyond the exhilarating moments of such carnal and spiritual intercourses with "uncontained and immortal beauty," Emerson is very much aware of the transitoriness of any transcendental experience, and of the many "problems to be solved," as he says in the final chapter of the book, in the relation between man and nature. Among these, with all their economic, geographic, political, ideological, social, and racial ramifications, there was the ethical and esthetic "problem of restoring to the world original and eternal beauty"—a "problem" no less real and American than the other ones in a young republic lamenting its lack of a visible culture and a national literature.

The "Prospects" that Emerson opens in the final chapter of Nature are apocalyptic horizons of renewal and "redemption," taking in as they do the separation—by distance, resistance, opacity, even conflict—between man and the world, "the Soul" and "Nature," "Me" and "Not-Me." In this view, the final chapter reiterates the presence of limits such as carelessness (we ignore the "wonderful congruity which subsists between man and the world"), unbelief and disowning ("We distrust and deny inwardly our sympathy with nature”), degeneration and degradation ("man is a god in ruins," or "the dwarf of himself "), slothfulness and perversion ("man applies to nature but half his force")—in short, a spiritual barrenness whose effect is blindness:

The problem of restoring to the world original and eternal beauty, is solved by the redemption of the soul. The ruin or the blank, that we see when we look at nature, is in our own eye. The axis of vision is not coincident with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent but opaque. (47)

If the "problem" lies in our I/eye/soul, and is caused by a "not coincident" relation with the Not-I/matter/nature, then one needs to re-align the axis of vision with the axis of things. This may happen, as Emerson thinks, in those "best moments of life" that occur through ordinary experiences, when the attainment of pure vision brings man into a perfect communion with nature, and through nature, with God. So the "new eyes" with which we shall come "to look at the world" of the "Not-Me" should hopefully and always be transparent eyeballs. Then we will be sure to discover, as Emerson tells us in the prophetic voice of his orphic poet at the end of Nature, that "the world exists for [us]," and for us "is the phenomenon perfect," to the point that we can and shall build therefore our own world, to enter it, messianically, and inhabit it, regenerated, as lords of a "kingdom":

"The kingdom of man over nature, which cometh not with observation,—a dominion such as now is beyond his dream of God,—he shall enter without more wonder than the blind man feels who is gradually restored to perfect sight." (49)

Once restored, Nature "receives the dominion of man as meekly as the ass on which the Saviour rode" (28).The christological title of this new man, here compared with Jesus, is as eloquent as is his soteriological role within the salvation history of American nature. In this renewed and redemptive lordship, then, as Novalis states in a fragment that Carlyle translated in his 1829 essay, man "announces himself and his Gospel of Nature”; he is, as the early Emerson would have fully agreed, "the Messiah of Nature" (40).

Works Cited

Blake, William. The Poetical Works of William Blake. Ed. Edwin J. Ellis. 2 vols. London: Chatto and Windus, 1906.

Carlyle, Thomas. "Novalis." The Works of Thomas Carlyle. Ed. H. D. Traill. 30 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1896-99. XXVII: 1-55.

-------. Sartor Resartus. Ed. Kerry McSweeney and Peter Sabor. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Lectures. Ed. Joel Porte. New York: The Library of America, 1983.

-------. "The School." The Early Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ed. Stephen E. Whicher, Robert E. Spiller, e Wallace E. Williams. 3 vols. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1959-72. III: 34-50.

Novalis. Fragmente. Die Lehrlinge zu Sais, Gedichte und Fragmente. Ed. Martin Kiessig. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1978. 116-47.

-------. Philosophical Writings. Ed. Margaret Mahony Stoljar. Albany: State U of New York P. 1997.

Poirier, Richard. "Emerson: Abolishing Individualism." Emerson at 200: Proceedings of the International Bicentennial Conference. Rome, October 16-18, 2003. Ed. Giorgio Mariani, et al. Rome: Aracne, 2004. 3-21.

-------. Poetry and Pragmatism. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992.

-------, ed. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.

-------. The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections. New York: Random House, 1987.

-------. Trying It Out in America: Literary and Other Performances. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

-------. A World Elsewhere: The Place of Style in American Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 1966.

Contributor's Note

Giuseppe Nori is Professor of American Literature and Language at the University of Macerata, Italy. He is the author of two books on Melville and of essays on nineteenth-century literature, history, and ideas. He has translated and edited several volumes, including Sacvan Bercovitch's collection America puritana (Rome, 1992), Carlyle's Cartismo (Macerata, 1999), and, most recently, Melville’s Bartleby (Rome 2009). He is currently at work on a book-length study on theories of power and heroism in Antebellum America.



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