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British Criticism on Ralph Waldo Emerson

            British Criticism on Ralph Waldo Emerson.
             Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most influential literary figures in history. The American transcendental poet was greatly criticized by British critics. Emerson became popular among the British when reproductions of American books were cheap and the libraries contained large numbers of them. His work was easily accessible and captured the attention of the British audience. Emerson's British critics shared mixed views on his works. They examined Emerson's literary style, religion, and philosophy and published their views in several articles. It was stated in a British review, Macphail's, that Emerson was "exceedingly clear in his style. There is not only the freshness and richness, but also the openness of a summer morning, in his productions" (Sowder, 4). The Douglas Jerrold's Shilling Magazine had announced that all of Emerson's works were "pure poetry" (Sowder, 3). On the other hand some critics in the English Review called Emerson, "a mighty phrasemonger, a self idolater, and a narrow-minded fanatic" and said that his ideas were "treacherous marshlight, sad twaddle, and wholesale rubbish" (Sowder, 8). Emerson's Nature and his poem The Problem caused quite an uproar among the British. .
             In his work titled Nature, Emerson expresses his thoughts and views on God, religion and the universe. Emerson said that the universe consisted of two components; nature and the soul. Emerson's nature however, was more intricate than what one would normally understand it to be. Nature, according to Emerson, existed in the physical world, art, and the body. It integrated all things together and was a reflection of the human mind. Emerson said there are three ways to visualize nature: In its physical, spiritual, and intellectual sense. According to Sowder, critics found the philosophy of Emerson's Nature to be, "contradictory, illogical, intuitive, subjective, mystical, and misty" (Sowder, 14).

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