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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a member of the 19th-century American literary and philosophical movement of Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalists founded the Transcendental Club in Boston in 1836.

The acknowledged leader of Transcendentalism was R. W. Emerson, and the group’s most prominent members included the writers, critics, and social reformers H. Thoreau, G. Ripley, T. Parker, Margaret Fuller, and Elizabeth Peabody. Influenced by the German idealist philosophy of Kant and Hegel, as well as by the English romantics Coleridge and Carlyle, the Transcendentalists criticized bourgeois civilization from a romantic standpoint. They opposed to the world of avarice and vanity an ideal of individual self-perfection and spiritual freedom, which could be achieved through a pantheist contemplation of nature and the study of the humanities.

Transcendentalism was an individualist movement that attracted followers owing to its ethical spirit. Seeking to put their ideals into practice, in 1840 the Transcendentalists founded the Brook Farm community, which had about 100 members and was modeled after Fourier’s phalanstery. The disintegration of the community in 1847, which proved that the social program of the Transcendentalists was completely Utopian, was followed by a split in the movement. Some of the Transcendentalists were prominent abolitionists. Transcendentalism ceased to exist after the Civil War (1861–65).


Istoriia amerikanskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Bruks, V. V. Pisatel’ i amerikanskaia zhizn’, vol. 1. Moscow, 1967.
Transcendentalism and Its Legacy. Edited by M. Simon and T. H. Parsons. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The transcendentalists believed all living things were bound together and humans were essentially good.
How does this compare to the 'infrapolitics' of the Transcendentalists?
Kohler contextualizes Emerson's work as a response to Coleridge's revision of Kantian idealism and the linguistic philosophies of his American contemporaries, most notably Sampson Reed, whose 1826 Observations on the Growth of the Mind and early promotion of Emanuel Swedenborg had a major influence on Emerson and other transcendentalists. This move to historicize Emerson speaks directly to the theoretical methodology employed throughout Miles of Stare: a convincing assertion that the problem of literary vision was "driven less by consensus or a shared exceptionalist ideology and more by shared questions whose answers are significantly disputatious and provisional" (10).
Matthew Wynn Sivils not only deepens the field by extending it through the early national period, but he also widens it by mounting a strong argument for fiction as a more effective environmental genre than nonfiction, pointing to a tradition that reaches (despite a period of dormancy during the reign of the Transcendentalists) from the American Revolution to the present day.
Wenke points out that the author may have been without cohort in his political beliefs, and his spiritual autonomy is directly influenced by nineteenth-century Transcendentalists. Mailer's dedication to the leftist radical movement evolved, during the late 1960s, into an odd hybrid combining a continued commitment to leftist activism tempered by a conservative passion for preserving American traditions.
Emerson's mystical tendencies are well known, and are encapsulated in the principal tenet of Transcendentalist philosophy: "The belief ...
Frustrated with Martin-eau's and Lydia Maria Child's emphasis on politics over intellect, Fuller was suspicious of antislavery activism (perhaps in keeping with Emerson) but, like her Transcendentalist colleague, embraced the cause in Woman in the Nineteenth Century, where she would "make use of antislavery as 'a cause identical' to the enfranchisement of women" (145).
Transcendentalist universalization thus becomes not so much a political identity as an ethical posture: "Cosmopolitanism thus requires a process of existential transformations reflecting Emerson's ontology of becoming and psychology of a fluctuating personal identity" (253).
In "'The Great Earth Speaking': Richard Jefferies and the Transcendentalists" Roger Ebbatson explains how the English nature-writer conveyed in his writings American Transcendentalism and English Romanticism in contrast to Victorian notions dominant at the time, such as the concept of progress.
He also was a leader of the Transcendentalist movement; its followers believed that many of society's institutions (including organized religion and political parties) corrupted the inherent goodness of man.
SATURDAY Performance artist Heiner Goebbels presents Walden, part of a day of films, talks, music and performances at the mac inspired by the book written by Henry David Thoreau, noted transcendentalist and promoter of simple living as he built a woodland cabin.
Yet of the writers the introduction promises to discuss-those listed above, plus Louisa May Alcott and Frederick Douglass, minus Higginson-only Emerson qualifies as a transcendentalist. Fuller leans on personal associations to imply a cohesive body of ideas, breezing over timing and differences without substantive groundwork.