Emerson: The Mind on Fire: A Biography Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Robert D. Richardson
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. How are we introduced to Emerson in the Prologue?

2. What does Richardson say his book illustrates in Emerson's life?

3. What vow does Richardson say Emerson made to himself while he was writing Nature?

4. What was Emerson lecturing on while he was courting Lidian?

5. How does Richardson characterize Emerson's second wife?

Short Essay Questions

1. What was Emerson's relationship with Margaret Fuller?

2. Where did Emerson travel in Europe?

3. Describe Emerson's relationship with Thoreau.

4. How does Richardson describe the birth of American Transcendentalism?

5. What was Emerson's view of American literature?

6. What was Emerson's relationship with Carlyle?

7. How did Emerson support himself after Harvard?

8. What was Emerson's relationship with Bronson Alcott?

9. How did travel change Emerson's intellectual interests?

10. How close was the Emerson family after Emerson's return from Europe?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Are there aspects of Emerson's personality that Richardson overlooks or underplays? Make a case that Richardson has misrepresented Emerson in some way. What other Emersons do you think there might be, whose stories are still waiting to be told? Use the text for evidence, and explain your hunch.

Essay Topic 2

Emerson wrote essays on love and spiritual laws, but never marriage. Why not, do you think?

Essay Topic 3

Evaluate your own reading of The Mind on Fire. Did you resist it, or were you compelled by the story? What does your reading tell you about yourself and your interests? Use specific examples from the book to describe yourself as a reader.

(see the answer keys)

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