American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions

American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions

By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?


The first major study since the 1930s of the relationship between American Transcendentalism and Asian religions, and the first comprehensive work to include post-Civil War Transcendentalists like Samuel Johnson, this book is encyclopedic in scope. Beginning with the inception of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe, Versluis covers the entire history of American Transcendentalism into the twentieth century, and the profound influence of Orientalism on the movement--including its analogues and influences in world religious dialogue. He examines what he calls "positive Orientalism," which recognizes the value and perennial truths in Asian religions and cultures, not only in the writings of major figures like Thoreau and Emerson, but also in contemporary popular magazines. Versluis's exploration of the impact of Transcendentalism on the twentieth-century study of comparative religions has ramifications for the study of religious history, comparative religion, literature, politics, history, and art more

Product details

  • Hardback | 364 pages
  • 164.3 x 243.1 x 30mm | 726.57g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195076583
  • 9780195076585
  • 1,671,400

Review quote

A major scholarly study of the importance of oriental thought on the group of Americans known as the Transcendentalists. It is a study that shows wide and deep reading in comparative religion and philosophy, and it greatly enlightens us with regard to how Hindu and Buddhist ideas came to shape the work of many intellectual thinkers. * Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill *show more

Back cover copy

Transcendentalism is well-known as a peculiarly American philosophical and religious movement. Less well-known is the extent to which such famous Transcendentalists as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau drew on religions of Asia for their inspiration. Arthur Versluis offers a comprehensive study of the relationship between the American Transcendentalists and Asian religions. He argues that an influx of new information about these religions shook nineteenth-century American religious consciousness to the core. With the publication of ever more material on Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, the Judeo-Christian tradition was inevitably placed as just one among a number of religious traditions. Fundamentalists and conservatives denounced this influx as a threat, but the Transcendentalists embraced it, poring over the sacred books of Asia to extract ethical injunctions, admonitions to self-transcendence, myths taken to support Christian doctrines, and manifestations of a supposed coming universal religion. The first major study of this relationship since the 1930s, American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions is also the first to consider the post-Civil War Transcendentalists, such as Samuel Johnson and William Rounseville Alger. Examining the entire range of American Transcendentalism, Versluis's study extends from the beginnings of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe to its continuing impact on twentieth-century American culture. This exhaustive and enlightening work sheds important new light on the history of religion in America, comparative religion, and nineteenth-century American literature and popular more