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Index:Nature (1836).djvu

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Nature (1836).djvu

This is the first edition of Nature, published anonymously by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1836. It was Emerson's first published book, and in it he laid the foundations for transcendentalism. A second edition was published in the collection Nature; Addresses, and Lectures. James Munroe and Company, 1849.

The Library of America edition of Emerson's Essays and Lectures says in its "Note on the Texts" section: "Emerson was a meticulous editor of his own work, and his care produced books which were generally error-free in their first printings and which remained largely unchanged through various reissues. Two important exceptions, however, were the heavily revised 1849 edition of Nature,..." They later go on to write, "Nature; Addresses, and Lectures appears in this volume as Emerson prepared it for publication in 1849. Although other revised editions appeared in later years, these were neither as carefully nor as thoroughly reworked. The late editions, moreover, represent an older, more conservative Emerson, while the 1849 edition of Nature; Addresses, and Lectures presents Emerson at the height of his creative powers." And the Harvard University Press edition of Emerson's The Conduct of Life says on page lxxiii in its "Textual Introduction" section (page 26 of the preceding linked PDF document): "In his early works, Nature (1836) and the other selections reprinted with Nature in 1849, and in Essays, First Series (1841), he made rather extensive changes after first publication—chiefly in the 1849 text of the former collection and in the second (1847) edition of the latter." It would seem then that the first two editions of Nature are distinct, and of all the editions they are of the greatest importance. Wikisource has a copy of either the 2nd or some later edition of Nature, as evidenced by the poem that begins the first chapter. This poem was absent from the first edition. But without any further source information on where this came from, the integrity of this copy is suspect.

Incidentally, a clean PDF (except for part of the table of contents) of the 1849 edition is available from Google Books. This is an updated PDF processed from their 3D scans; previously, Google only had lousy PDFs of this edition. Archive.org, last I checked, had no copies of this edition that where scanned under their auspices; however, two of the earlier, mangled PDFs from Google were uploaded to Archive. Archive.org said they hoped to update these, but it sounded like it would take some time.

In the present (1836) edition, note that the page number on page 94 is incorrectly typeset as 92. November2009 POTM