详细内容

Chapter 4 Emerson and Thoreau

上课时间

 

上课节次

 

课 型

Theory and practice

课 题

Emerson and Thoreau  

教学目的

Aim of knowledge: 1. To make students get to know American Transcendentalism.

2. To make students get to know Emerson, Thoreau and their works.

Aim of ability: training of the ability to analyze literary works along with Transcendentalism.

Aim of quality: cultivate students’ tranquil mind with love of nature; identify individualism

教学方法

Lecture, discussion, PPT presentation

重点、难点

Key points: Emerson and Self- Reliance, Nature, Thoreau and Walden

Difficulties: Background and features of Transcendentalism

时间分配

教 学 内 容

板书或课件版面设计

15 mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

55 mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 mins

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1 Transcendentalism

1. Definition

Transcendentalism, which flourished in New England from about 1836 to1860, marked the maturity of American Romanticism and the first Renaissance in the American literary history. The term was derived from Latin, meaning to rise above or to pass beyond the limits. It laid emphasis on spirit and individual and nature.

Transcendentalism is philosophical and literary movement It originated among a small group of intellectuals who were reacting against the orthodoxy of Calvinism and the rationalism of the Unitarian Church, developing instead their own faith centering on the divinity of humanity and the natural world.

 

2. Background of Transcendentalism

——the product of the combination of

  • foreign influences

    Loleridge, Wordsworth

  • German idealistic philosophy

               Kant, Hegel

  • neo-Platonism
  • Oriental mysticism

    Indian and Chinese religious teachings

  • American native Puritan tradition
  • They blended native American tradition with foreign influences. As a result, American Transcendentalism was, in essence, romantic idealism on Puritan soil. The Transcendental party kicked off in 1836 with the formation of the Transcendental Club in Boston.
    • Journal: The Dial

 

3. Major Features of Transcendentalism

    1) The Transcendentalists placed emphasis on spirit, or the Oversoul, as the most important thing in the universe.

The Oversoul was an all-pervading power for goodness, omnipresent and omnipotent, from which all things came and of which all were a part. It existed in nature and man alike and constituted the chief element of the universe.

    2) The Transcendentalists stressed the importance of the individual.

    To them the individual was the most important element of society. As the regeneration of society could only come about through the regeneration of the individual, his perfection, his self-culture and self-improvement, and not the frenzied effort to get rich, should become the first concern of his life.

The ideal type of man was the self-reliant individual whom Emerson never stopped talking about all his life.

The Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau were telling people to depend upon themselves for spiritual perfection if they cared to make the effort because, in their opinion, the individual soul communed with the Oversoul and was therefore divine. Now this new notion of the individual and his importance represented, obviously, a new way of looking at man.

It was also a reaction against the process of dehumanization that came in the wake of developing capitalism. The industrialization of New England was turning men into nonhumans. People were losing their individuality and were becoming uniform. The Transcendentalists saw the process in progress and, by trying to reassert the importance of the individual, emphasized the significance of men regaining their lost personality.

    3) The Transcendentalists offered a fresh perception of nature as symbolic of the Spirit or God.

Nature was, to them, not purely matter. It was alive, filled with God's overwhelming presence. It was the garment of the Oversoul. Therefore it could exercise a healthy and restorative influence on the human mind. What the Transcendentalists seemed to be saying was, "Go back to nature, sink yourself back into its influence, and you’ll become spiritually whole again.”

 

4. Influence

New England Transcendentalism was important to American literature.

(1) It inspired a whole new generation of famous authors as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman and Dickinson.

(2) It inspired one of America’s most prolific literary periods in its history.

 

Step2 Ralph Waldo Emerson  (1803-1882)

American philosopher, poet and essayist

The most eloquent spokesman of New England Transcendentalism.

1. Life

Born in a clergyman's family in Boston

Graduate from Harvard

A Unitarian minister 唯一神教派

Abandoned Unitarianism and went to Europe searching for truth

Met Wordsworth, Carlyle and Coleridge

Founded a transcendental club and published a journal

Traveled and gave lectures; quite influential

 

2. Aesthetic Ideas

  1) In Emerson's opinion, poets should function as preachers who gave directions to the mass.
  2) True poetry should serve as a moral purification.
  3) The argument (or his thought or experience) should decide the form of the poem instead of traditional techniques.
  4) The poets should express his thought in symbols.
  5) Poets should use words for their pictorial and imaginative meaning.
  6) As to theme, Emerson called upon American authors to writer about peculiar American matters. 

  7) Weakness: optimism, no sense of evil   

His reputation fell in the 20th century because he firmly believed human and human society could be better. It seemed that he had no sense of evil and too optimistic about human nature and the society. Somebody once called this kind of optimism "Transcendental folly"

 

3. Evaluation

Emerson is the key intellectual and philosophical voice of 19th-century America.

Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Hawthorne, Melville, Frost and Wallace Stevens and many others were indebted to him in varying degrees.

 

4. His Works

Nature: It is regarded as "the manifesto of American Transcendentalism ". In this work, Emerson put forward that behind every phenomenon of the nature there was the spirit of the nature.

The American Scholar:In this work, Emerson was trying to say that we Americans should stop imitating other countries in literature and we ought to create a way of our own.

 ——American intellectual Declaration of Independence”

“We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe… We will walk on our own feet, we will work with our own hands, we will speak our own minds.”

Self-reliance

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.”

Trust thyself: because “every heart vibrates to that iron string” of intuition and confidence

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

The Transcendentalist

 

5. Appreciate Self-Reliance (P20-22)

1) Key Words

self-reliance(自立)

conformity(遵从;墨守成规; 从众)

non-conformity(不墨守成规)

 

2) Famous Sayings

Envy is ignorance;Imitation is suicide. 妒忌是无知,模拟是自杀。

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

信任你自己吧:每颗心都随着那弦跳动

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

任何名副实在的真正的人,都必须是不落俗套的人。

No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.

除了本性的法则之外,在我看来,没有任何法则是神圣的。

 

3) What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

我必须做的是一切与我有关的事,而不是别人想要我做的事。这条法则,在现实生活和精力生涯中都是同样艰难艰苦的,它是巨大与卑贱的全部差别。它将变得更加艰难,假如你总是碰到一些自认为比你自己更理解什么是你的义务的人。

 

4) Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speaks what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything you said to-day.... Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. 

今天你想说什么就说什么,像放连珠炮一样;明天你想说什么,照样斩钉截铁地说什么,哪怕跟你今天说的一切都是相互予盾的。......。被人曲解就那么不好吗?毕达哥拉斯被人曲解,苏格拉底、耶稣、路德、哥白尼、伽利略和牛顿,每一位纯洁而又聪慧、曾经生涯过的人都曾被人误会过。要做个巨人,就必定会被人曲解。

 

6. Appreciate Nature

1To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime.

Solitude”独处,隐逸”  retire“(书)遁世,远离”   chamber“居室”                        would“愿意,想要”    sublime“崇高的”           transparent“透明的” perpetual“永恒的”      this design“造物主把空气涉及成透明的”

倘若一个人想要做到离群索居,他不仅需要退出社会,而且还要走出自己的房子。当我在读书或写作的时候,虽然没人和我在一块儿,但是我并不会感到孤独。然而,倘若你想追求一份孤独的感觉,那么你就抬头看看星星。那从遥远天国射来的光线,将会把你和周围的琐事隔离开来。我们可以设想,人们能在这天体中间感到崇高的永久存在,这种做法可以使得现象变得晴晰透明。

 

2)When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects.

我们以这种方式探讨自然的时候,我们心中存在的是一种独特但又最具诗意的感觉,意思是说,存在于我们心中的是整个自然界各种事物带给我们的一个整体印象。

 

3)The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.

今天早上我看到了一个迷人的风景,那肯定是由二十到三十个农场组成的。这块地属于米勒,那块地属于洛克,而边上那片树林则归曼宁所有。但是,他们中却没有人能拥有这里的整片风景。在我目光所及的地方,有种不为任何人所有的风景。但是,有一种人,他们的眼晴能将这所有的部分合在一起,这便是诗人。 

 

Step3. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

1. Life

 Born in a common family in New England

 Graduated from Harvard, but only stayed at home and helped family business

 A student and friend of Emerson

 Active in social life and had a strong sense of justice

 not successful as a writer and lived in obscurity all his life

 

    He was bred to no profession, he never married; he lived alone; he never went to church; he never voted; he refused to pay a tax to the State; he ate no flesh, he drank no wine, he never knew the use of  tobacco, ... When asked at table what dish he preferred, he answered, “The nearest.”

     He chose to be rich by making his wants few, …

                              ——Emerson: “Thoreau”(1862)

 

2. Major Works

(1)Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854)

  1. holds that the most important thing for men to do with their lives is to be self-sufficient and strive to achieve personal spiritual perfection.
  2. exhibits Thoreau’s calm trust in the future and his ardent belief in a new generation of men.
  3. very critical of modern civilization.

 

 (2)  It is regarded as 1) a nature book. 2.) a do-it-yourself guide to simple life. 3) a satirical criticism of modern life and living. “Civilized man is the slave of matter.”4) a belletristic (文学研究的)achievement. 5) a spiritual book.

一位梭罗研究专家曾经说《瓦尔登湖》有5种读法:1,关于自然的书;2,关于自立更生,简单生活的书;3,对现代生活的批评;4,文学名著;5,神圣的书。

 

(3)Stylistic Features

    Although Thoreau’s writing received little notice during his life, he is now recognized as a masterful prose stylist. The strength of Thoreau’s writing results from his aphoristic sentences格言警句; brief allegories; striking metaphors; use of rhetorical devices such as repetition, parallelism, and rhetorical questions.

 

Step 4 Key Points and Difficult Points

Key Points: Emerson and Self- Reliance, Nature

          Thoreau and Walden

Difficult Points: Background and features of Transcendentalism

 

Step 5 Homework

    Read Walden on P47-51 in Selected Readings, and answer the following questions:

1) Had Thoreau ever bought a farm? Why did he enjoy the act of buying?

2) Is it significant that Thoreau mentioned the Fourth of July as the day on which he began to stay in the woods? Why?

3) Please give us your opinion and evaluation about this masterpiece.

4) Talk your opinion on American individualism reflected in Self- Reliance. (第3题、第4题选任一题做) 

 

 

教学后记