What is Transcendentalism in literature?

Definition: Transcendentalism is a philosophical and literary movement that emerged in the United States in the early 19th century. The movement was characterized by a belief in the inherent goodness of people and nature, and a rejection of traditional social and religious institutions.

Transcendentalists believed that individuals could achieve a higher spiritual state through personal intuition and experience, rather than through organized religion or established doctrine. They emphasized the importance of self-reliance, individualism, and nonconformity, and sought to break free from the constraints of conventional society.

In literature, Transcendentalism was characterized by a focus on individual experience and inner spiritual growth, and a rejection of conventional literary forms and styles. Transcendentalist writers often used nature as a symbol of the divine, and sought to convey a sense of the interconnectedness of all things.

Examples Transcendentalism:

One of the most famous Transcendentalist writers was Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose essays and speeches emphasized the importance of self-reliance, intuition, and individualism. In his essay “Nature,” Emerson wrote: “In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, – no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair.”

Another notable Transcendentalist writer was Henry David Thoreau, who is best known for his book “Walden,” a meditation on the virtues of simple living and the importance of individual freedom. Thoreau also wrote extensively about the natural world, and his work helped to popularize the idea of conservation and environmentalism.

Other Transcendentalist writers include Walt Whitman, who celebrated individualism and democracy in his poetry, and Emily Dickinson, who explored themes of nature, spirituality, and death in her poetry.

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