Emerson’s English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor — New Book by David LaRocca

9781441161406About Emerson’s English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor

Metaphors are ubiquitous and yet—or, for that very reason—go largely unseen. We are all variously susceptible to a blindness or blurry vision of metaphors; yet even when they are seen clearly, we are left to situate the ambiguities, conflations and contradictions they regularly present—logically, aesthetically and morally.

David LaRocca’s book serves as a set of ‘reminders’ of certain features of the natural history of our language—especially the tropes that permeate and define it. As part of his investigation, LaRocca turns to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s only book on a single topic,English Traits (1856), which teems with genealogical and generative metaphors—blood, birth, plants, parents, family, names and race.

In the first book-length study of English Traits in over half a century, LaRocca considers the presence of metaphors in Emerson’s fertile text—a unique work in his expansive corpus, and one that is regularly overlooked. As metaphors are encountered in Emerson’s book, and drawn from a long history of usage in work by others, a reader may realize (or remember) what is inherent and encoded in our language, but rarely seen: how metaphors circulate in speech and through texts to become the lifeblood of thought. 

Table Of Contents

Prefatory Notes
Introduction: Some Traits of English Traits
I. More Prone to Melancholy
II. With Muffins and Not the Promise of Muffins
III. The Lively Traits of Criticism
IV. The Cabman is Phrenologist So Far
V. The Florilegium and the Cabinets of Natural History
VI. Founding Thoughts
VII. A Child of the Saxon Race
VIII. Living Without a Cause
IX. Adapting Some Secret of His Own Anatomy
X. First Blood
XI. Second Selves
XII. Genealogy and Guilt
XIII. The Pirate Baptized
XIV. My Giant Goes With Me
XV. Corresponding Minds
XVI. Titles Manifold


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