The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance

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Oxford University Press, Mar 8, 2001 - Religion - 240 pages
The term "Western esotericism" refers to a wide range of spiritual currents including alchemy, Hermeticism, Kabbala, Rosicrucianism, and Christian theosophy, as well as several practical forms of esotericism like cartomancy, geomancy, necromancy, alchemy, astrology, herbalism, and magic. The early presence of esotericism in North America has not been much studied, and even less so the indebtedness to esotericism of some major American literary figures. In this book, Arthur Versluis breaks new ground, showing that many writers of the so-called American Renaissance drew extensively on and were inspired by Western esoteric currents.

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Contents

1 Introduction
3
2 European Esoteric Currents
8
3 Esotericism in Early America
21
4 The Esoteric Ambience of the American Renaissance
53
5 Hitchcock
64
6 Poe
72
7 Hawthorne
81
8 Melville
91
11 Emerson
124
12 Fuller
147
13 Whitman
157
14 Dickinson
171
15 The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance
183
Notes
193
Bibliography
217
Index
231

9 Greaves
105
10 Alcott
115

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Page 173 - The severe Schools shall never laugh me out of the philosophy of Hermes, that this visible world is but a picture of the invisible, wherein, as in a portrait, things are not truly, but in equivocal shapes and as they counterfeit some more real substance in that invisible fabric.
Page 159 - If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it, Translucent mould of me it shall be you!
Page 137 - It is not so pertinent to man to know all the individuals of the animal kingdom, as it is to know whence and whereto is this tyrannizing unity in his constitution, which evermore separates and classifies things, endeavoring to reduce the most diverse to one form.
Page 141 - The kingdom of man over nature, which cometh not with observation, — a dominion such as now is beyond his dream of God, — he shall enter without more wonder than the blind man feels who is gradually restored to perfect sight.
Page 142 - This insight, which expresses itself by what is called Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees, by sharing the path or circuit of things through forms, and so making them translucid to others.
Page 204 - The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.
Page 77 - Dial,' and throw out of the window to the pigs all his odd numbers of the
Page 78 - MR. RALPH WALDO EMERSON belongs to a class of gentlemen with whom we have no patience whatever — the mystics for mysticism's sake. Quintilian mentions a pedant who taught obscurity, and who once said to a pupil " this is excellent, for I do not understand it myself.

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