Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 7, 2014)
The Conduct of Life – A Collection of Essays – Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Conduct of Life is a collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson published in 1860 and revised in 1876. In this volume, Emerson sets out to answer “the question of the times:” “How shall I live?” It is composed of nine essays, each preceded by a poem. These nine essays are largely based on lectures Emerson held throughout the country, including for a young, mercantile audience in the lyceums of the Midwestern boomtowns of the 1850s. The Conduct of Life has been named as both one of Emerson’s best works and one of his worst. It was one of Emerson’s most successful publications and has been identified as a source of influence for a number of writers, including Friedrich Nietzsche. Three years after publishing his English Traits, Boston’s Ticknor & Fields announced on 27 December 1859, an “early appearance” of a new book by Emerson titled The Conduct of Life. Confirmed as “completed” on 10 November 1860, Emerson’s seventh major work came out on 12 December of the same year—simultaneously in the US and in Great Britain (published there by Smith, Elder & Co.). It was advertized as “matured philosophy of the transatlantic sage” and sold as a collector’s item “uniform in size and style with Mr. Emerson’s previous works.” Quickly running through several editions in the U.S. (Ticknor & Fields announced a third edition only a week later) it was soon picked up by a third publisher (Cleveland’s Ingham & Bragg). In Great Britain, it was reported as “selling rapidly.” Subsequently, several passages from the book appeared in popular U.S. newspapers, most of them quoting either from ‘Wealth’ or ‘Behavior’ (especially the ‘Monk Basle’-passage and Emerson’s treatment of the human eye). First translations of the book appeared during Emerson’s lifetime in France (1864) and in Russia (1864). Still, the height of the book’s international fame came around the turn of the 20th century, coinciding with a growing public interest in one of Emerson’s most famous readers: Friedrich Nietzsche. Eventually, The Conduct of Life was translated into at least 13 different languages, including Serbian, Dutch and Chinese.