Emerson’s Sublime Science (New York and London: Palgrave, 1999) (Read the book's Introduction)
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In 1831, Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction, substantiating scientifically a primary intuition of thinkers ranging from Hermetic alchemists to Renaissance Neoplatonists to Romantic visionaries: matter is energy, a field of invisible force. The young Emerson, an adept in Boehme, Bruno, and Coleridge, immediately understood the implications of Faraday's revelation, writing in 1833 that this scientist had likely discovered the secret of life. Accordingly, Emerson's Sublime Science is the first book to explore the electromagnetic currents in Emerson's thought and art. The study focuses on the ways that Emerson channeled the galvanizing conclusions of Faraday into his senses of the cosmos, the sublime, and language. Illuminating the electromagnetic Emerson, Wilson also forges exciting connections between alchemy and chemistry, organicism and electricity, and poetry and science.
“Wilson’s book is an important contribution to Emerson studies and a valuable addition to works on the development of nineteenth-century ideas about “nature” and its relation to “mind” and “matter.” Emerson’s Sublime Science reminds us that the Coleridgean idea of organicism, and the way that idea was transferred to its American inheritors (Thoreau no less than Emerson), links with early understanding of Faraday’s “electricity” to become a powerful metaphor for the next two centuries.”--Ashton Nichols, author of the hypertext A Romantic Natural History, in The Wordsworth Circle
“Wilson offers a really new way to read Emerson, a way based upon the fact that the poet conflated prophetic and scientific roles of Romantic thinking, indulged incessantly in “faith-driven” deductions, and considered his role to be that of a purveyor of hermetic revelation.”--Larry H. Peer, editor of Romanticism Across the Disciplines and Prism(s): Essay in Romanticism, in Prism(s): Essays in Romanticism