American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions (Religion in by Arthur Versluis

By Arthur Versluis

The 1st significant research because the Nineteen Thirties of the connection among American Transcendentalism and Asian religions, and the 1st entire paintings to incorporate post-Civil conflict Transcendentalists like Samuel Johnson, this publication is encyclopedic in scope. starting with the inception of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe, Versluis covers the whole historical past of yankee Transcendentalism into the 20th century, and the profound effect of Orientalism at the movement--including its analogues and affects in international spiritual discussion. He examines what he calls "positive Orientalism," which acknowledges the price and perennial truths in Asian religions and cultures, not just within the writings of significant figures like Thoreau and Emerson, but additionally in modern well known magazines. Versluis's exploration of the effect of Transcendentalism at the twentieth-century learn of comparative religions has ramifications for the examine of spiritual background, comparative faith, literature, politics, background, and artwork historical past.

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But he like the Transcendentalists, also drew on the Eastern teachings and mythology with which he had had more substantive contact. Shelley began to learn about Eastern teachings and mythologies in 1809, when he read Southey's Thalaba and later The Curse of Kehama, about which he was inquiring before it was published, writing Stockdale on 2 December 1810: "When do you suppose Southey's Curse of Kehama will come out? "107 Many scholars have noted the Neoplatonic elements in the "Hymn," as these are readily evident, but not so many have observed that in this poem Neoplatonic and Hindu elements are intermingled.

80 That Byron's sardonic advice was accurate was proved by Longmans, which offered Moore £3000 for a poem "upon some Oriental subject,"81 an offer that one can hardly imagine today. But only after Jones's translations brought to light actual texts from the Persian and Hindu traditions does one find stronger connections between East and West. John Scott and William Beckford both were instrumental in poetically "translating" and embellishing Jones's contributions: Scott's Oriental Eclogues and Beckford's Vathek, along with Thomas Campbell's references to the East in The Pleasures of Hope (1799), did much to popularize Eastern themes.

But the East always retained in their work an air of the exotic; it was not so much assimilated as deployed in the way that one might use exotic jewelry. It made fine decorations under certain circumstances. But for that neandros, that vision of a new man, reborn, one must turn to Emerson and the Transcendentalists. In them we see for the first time a serious attempt at conjoining Asian philosophical and religious teachings in Hinduism and Buddhism, and Western thought. To see how this was so, we must turn first to the reasons that Emerson and the other Transcendentalists were attracted to the Orient.

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