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Transcendental Roots

Emerson and Madame DeStael

Bryan Hileman

Another important source of Emerson’s emphasis on the new came to him via Madame De Stael’s Web Site De l’Allemagne. This was a compendium of the German philosophy and literary theory of the time, influenced greatly by Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel.  The notion that nature expresses the One and that the purpose of poetry is likewise to express that One is found in De Stael, as well as in the poetry of Wordsworth.

The influence of De Stael was broader than it was deep.  De L’Allemagne was a popular work, shallow in its analysis.  It served primarily as an introduction to names and basic concepts that Emerson was later to find far better developed in the work of Coleridge, Carlyle and others.

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