Herman Melville

A student of an underappreciated literary genre selects some books that may change the way you see what you do.

It has always struck me that the best business novels are interactive. Read more >>

His speech was called “our intellectual Declaration of Independence.” Its theme was the universe itself; its hero, Man Thinking. Now, one hundred and seventy-five years later, a noted scholar sees Emerson’s great vision as both more beleaguered and more urgent than ever.

ON AUGUST 31, 1837, THE DAY AFTER COMMENCEMENT—they don’t seem to have gone in for vacations in those earnest times—the academic year at Harvard was ushered in with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s address to Phi Beta Kappa on a stock topic, “The American Scholar.” The meetin Read more >>

Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody managed to extend the boundaries that cramped the lives of nineteenth-century women. Elizabeth introduced the kindergarten movement to America, Mary developed a new philosophy of mothering that we now take for granted, and Sophia was liberated from invalidism by her passionate love for her husband.

Other men,” Ralph Waldo Emerson told an admiring crowd in Boston’s Odeon Theater toward the end of 1845, “are lenses through which we read our own minds.” The eminent philosopher then went on to tell his audience of the importance in their lives of “Represent Read more >>

Walden is here, of course; but so too is Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook

America is not a nation of readers, yet books have had a deep and lasting effect on its national life. Read more >>

She was the first whaleship ever sunk by her prey. But that’s not why she’s remembered.

FOR THE WHALING MEN OF NANTUCKET , the year 1819 looked to be an especially promising one. Read more >>

The city has been a lure for millions, but most of the great American minds have been appalled by its excesses. Here an eminent observer, who knows firsthand the city’s threat, surveys the subject.

EVERY THURSDAY , when I leave my apartment in a vast housing complex on Columbus Avenue to conduct a university seminar on the American city, I reflect on a double life—mine. Read more >>

HOW A CHAMPAGNE PICNIC ON MONUMENT MOUNTAIN LED TO A PROFOUND REVISION OF Moby Dick —AND DISENCHANTMENT

A little group of American men of affairs and letters met along with their ladies on the morning of August 5, 1850, to hike up Monument Mountain, one of the more prominent features of the landscape surrounding Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Read more >>