In the excerpt we read from Ralph Waldo Emerson's The American Scholar, it seemed as though Emerson's main goal was to create an extremely complex and overly-wordy written piece to confuse the reader. Upon deeper examination, however, Emerson's writing takes on a new life as he explains the importance and significance of books and knowledge. Emerson's writing is like solving a puzzle, but for those who understand his unique style, will see many good points and facts as to why writing is so important. The piece discusses the impact that books can have on our everyday lives, if we put the time in to understand them.
The passage begins by telling of the immortality of books and the importance of even the oldest works. Emerson begins the passage by stating, "The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar is the mind of the Past." This one line perfectly displays one of Emerson's main points throughout the piece. By reading, people get to experience what others have learned without taking the same voyage. Emerson stresses the importance of this by discussing how colleges and companies are built upon mistakes from that past. He describes how through reading, people learn from others' mistakes. However, Emerson also brings up the point of imperfection, and as new conflicts arise, people write stories about those to educate future generations. This endless loop of learning from the past and writing for the future is one of Emerson's main points.
Emerson also spoke of the many great authors of the past. He spoke of Locke and Bacon, and how many who read their books viewed them as god like figure. According to Emerson, however, writers are no more than men. Emerson believes that to be a writer is to be a genius, but this does not mean we can't all be writers. Locke and Bacon, as Emerson puts it, were two young men in libraries when they wrote. This means that to be a writer is not to be a god, but to be a genius.