Books I Want: Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve got lots of books; probably too many. But there are some books that I’d like to own, bu I simply cannot afford. My tastes are varied: from Stephen King to Henry David Thoreau, by way of Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Robert B. Parker, Peter Robinson, Robertson Davies, William Shakespeare, and much more.

But one of my favorite authors is Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was one of America’s finest thinkers, and reading his essays, lectures and journals is one of my favorite pleasures. I have a couple of editions of the journals: the recent two-volume Library of America selection; a 1909 ten-volume edition, which is a different selection from what, at the time, was a relatively un-scholarly edition, and a few paperback books that offer selections from the journals, both from early editions and from the 16-volume Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson published by Harvard University Press.

This scholarly edition, published between 1960 and 1982, is the ultimate edition of Emerson journals. It is a true scholarly edition, with all changes, corrections, deletions and other details noted carefully. (You can see an example on Google Books.) They contain much more than just the journals themselves, but also contain the “Miscellaneous Notebooks,” which include drafts of Emerson’s lectures and essays.

In any case, I’m not planning to buy them soon, but found a complete set online from a German bookseller at a price well below list. Tempting, but it’s still way above my budget for now. But this is a series I’d like to get, and I may try looking for used copies of the individual volumes online.

Update: I have since purchased this set, at great expense, and I have been delighting in reading Emerson’s “raw” thoughts now for several months. You can see some of my favorite excerpts on my Emerson website Reading Ralph Waldo Emerson.

For those who want a taste of Emerson’s journals or other works, particularly in much more affordable editions, see my Emerson bibliography.