A Challenge

I don’t “do” blogging challenges much any more, but as Denny from “The Ceaseless Reader Writes” I don’t really have a lot else to do right now 😉

The challenge is to post three quotations from the works of a 19th century author and say something about him/her. As it happens, the 19th century was “my” century when I was writing my masters thesis, but in the meantime, I’ve traveled back in time six hundred years, I’m having a hard time thinking of a favorite 19th century author. I used to love a lot of them — it was the golden age of the novel. I loved Victor Hugo. Balzac, and Dostoyevsky. I loved Denny’s fav, Thomas Hardy. I was in school back before Women’s Lit was a thing, but we still read Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Edith Wharton, George Eliot and others. Between us, I don’t think “gender” should be a designation for genre, but no one asked me and no one cares now about my opinion.

SO… I will offer Ralph Waldo Emerson because I once liked him a lot and view myself as a type of transcendentalist.

This one is for Denny from Emerson’s essay “The Poet”: ”

Doubt not, O poet, but persist. Say ‘It is in me, and shall out.’ Stand there, balked and dumb, stuttering and stammering, hissed and hooted, stand and strive, until at last rage draw out of thee that dream-power which every night shows thee is thine own; a power transcending all limit and privacy, and by virtue of which a man is the conductor of the whole river of electricity.”

This one is from Self-Reliance an essay I LOVED teaching because it is so meaningful and has so much to say to post-adolescents. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.”

One more from Self-Reliance: “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

Emerson was an essayist — a very popular one — from New England in the 19th century. Now that I know Goethe, I see how completely derivative Emerson was. Some of his most famous ‘sayings’ simply paraphrase Goethe. I was disappointed when I realized that, but there is really little that is truly new anywhere ever. AND that fact doesn’t make many of the ideas held by Emerson wrong or their expression without beauty.

Oh, I almost forgot:  I have to challenge other Bloggers, too.  Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to post about your favorite 19th-century author.  Other than that, feel free to make your own rules, but please do challenge a few of your own friends.

I challenge:

Tracy of Reflections of an Untidy Mind so maybe we’ll get some Australian writers!

Teddy (or his person) from Teddy the Dog Talks

Cara from Another Good Dog

via Daily Prompt: Forest



8 thoughts on “A Challenge

  1. Thank you, Martha, and great job. Emerson’s one of my favorites as well, as are most of the Transcendentalists. I’m currently reading Laura Dassow Wall’s excellent _Henry David Thoreau: A Life_, and Emerson is a towering presence in that book.

  2. He was one of our local guys along with whathisname Alcott. They all lived up in Concord where they also had a school and the lovely lake which I visited years ago, only to confront a giant sign saying “Walden Pond is polluted. Do not enter lake.”

    I believe they have since cleaned it up. Concord is much to fancy shmantzy a place to have a polluted late beloved by Emerson and Thoreau. Actually, Thoreau wrote about it … but Emerson owned it. They were quite the “in” crowd in those good old days, but remarkably unpopular with the other locals.

  3. I love your quote, Martha. I don’t do challenges either, but I’ve just done a 3 quote challenge (mostly Garfield quotes because my memory is so bad). I will accept your challenge. I’ll consult my brains trust over here about what I should read. 🙂 This will have to be a long term project I think.

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