This book introduces Ralph Waldo Emerson's Transcendental philosophy to a modern reader. It takes the unique approach of coupling a generous sampling of his essential writings (essays, poems, lectures, and addresses) with a discussion of the biographical and historical circumstances from which they arose. Emerson's essay Experience and his poem Threnody, for example, are far more approachable when they are directly connected to the untimely and tragic death of his infant son, Waldo. His essay Politics can be more easily understood in the context of his crusade against slavery. In presenting Emerson in his private as well as his public roles as husband, father, friend, and citizen, it is possible to trace the thread of his experience through the fabric of his thought. The second goal of this book is to indicate how Emerson's timeless wisdom can serve readers today in discovering spiritual truth, developing self-reliance, dealing with bereavement and loss, experiencing both personal love and cosmic love, achieving worldly success, and more.