Emerson's Metaphors is a fundamental reinterpretation of the major American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson and an interdisciplinary intervention in literary criticism. This book draws on the methods and conclusions of the paradigm shifting Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), which recognizes that metaphor is a cognitive form rather than a rhetorical or ornamental feature. Closely reading Emerson's journals, lectures and reassessing the major essays, Emerson's Metaphors demonstrates that Emerson's prose 'thinks' through its figurative language, enabling the vital symbolic reconceptualizations of nature, man and God that would prove so crucial for the emergence of American literature. This monograph does not just have implications for Emerson scholarship, but as the first full-length study of a canonical writer to use CMT, it provides a model for the interpretation of all literary works.
David Greenham is professor of English literature at the University of the West of England, UK.
Introduction: Fossil Poetry
Part 1: Emerson’s Theory of Metaphor
Chapter One: ‘A Golden Link’: Emerson’s Doctrine of Correspondence
Chapter Two: ‘Apposite Metaphors’: Analogy and Symbolism
Chapter Three: Leaving me my Eyes: Nature’s Embodied Theory of Metaphor
Part 2: Emerson’s Practice of Metaphor
Chapter Four: Nature
Chapter Five: Humankind
Chapter Six: God
About the Author
"A compelling analysis of metaphor not just as a figure in the text of Emerson’s philosophy but as material to its very thinking and writing. Greenham delineates a generative, conceptual map for rereading Emerson’s mind at work in the metaphors on the page."
"Emerson’s Metaphors is a brilliant exposition of how consideration of the cognitive workings of a poet’s minding can illuminate and expand a conceptual theory of metaphor while at the same time revealing metaphor as the empirical basis of all human thought and language. Dr. Greenham traces in careful, comprehensive, and meticulous detail the emerging development of Emerson’s metaphorical thinking through his readings and experience of Natural History in creating a concept of identity relating nature, humankind, and God."