Chapter 4: American Transcendentalism

A. Bronson Alcott

Paul P. Reuben
October 17, 2016

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Selected Bibliography 1980-Present MLA Style Citation of this Web Page 

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"Very sad, indeed, it was to see this half-god driven to the wall, reproaching men, and hesitating whether he should not reproach the gods. The world was not, on trial, a possible element for him to live in. A lover of law had tried whether law could be kept in this world, and all things answered, "No." He had entertained the thought of leaving it, and going where freedom and an element could be found. And if he should be found tomorrow at the roadside, it would be the act of the world.

We pleaded guilty to perceiving the inconvenience and the inequality of property, and he said, "I will not be a convict." Very tedious and prosing and egotistical and narrow he is, but a profound insight, a Power, a majestical man, looking easily along the centuries to explore his "contemporaries," with a painful sense of being an orphan and a hermit here. I feel his statement to be partial and to have fatal omissions, but I think I shall never attempt to set him right any more. It is not for me to answer him: though I feel the limitations and exaggeration of his picture, and the wearisome personalities.

His statement proves too much: it is a REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM. But I was quite ashamed to have just revised and printed last week the old paper denying the existence of tragedy, when this modern Prometheus was in the heat of his quarrel with the gods...."

- Ralph W. Emerson, Journals, April, 1844

Primary Works


Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Bedell, Madelon. The Alcotts: Biography of a Family. NY: Clarkson N. Potter, 1980.

Cameron, Kenneth W. Transcendental Curriculum or Bronson Alcott's Library; Inventory of 1858-1860 with Addenda to 1888, incl. Lib. at Fruitlands (1842-1843), To Which Is Added Sheaf of Ungathered Alcott Letters. Hartford, CT: Transcendental Books, 1984.

English, Karen. ed. Notes of Conversations, 1848-1875: Amos Bronson Alcott. Madison, NJ : Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2007.

Francis, Richard. Transcendental Utopias: Individual and Community at Brook Farm, Fruitlands, and Walden. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1997.

- - -. Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2010.

Habich, Robert D. ed. Lives Out of Letters: Essays on American Literary Biography and Documentation. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004.

Knight, Denise D. ed. Writers of the American Renaissance: An A-to-Z Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2003.

Matteson, John. Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father. NY: Norton, 2007.

Mott, Wesley T. and Robert E. Burkholder. eds. Emersonian Circles. Rochester, NY: U of Rochester P, 1997.

Myerson, Joel. ed. The Transcendentalists: A Review of Research and Criticism. NY: Mod. Lang. Assn. of America, 1984.

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page:

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 4: A. Bronson Alcott." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. WWW URL: (provide page date or date of your login).