This chapter examines the involvement of Ralph Waldo Emerson in the Transcendentalism movement in the U.S. It highlights the susceptibility of Transcendentalism to comic criticism from the outside and discusses the connection between the seriocomic religious fervor of transcendental reform and the passionate wave of religious revival which characterized American religion at large during the first half of the nineteenth century. It also suggests that while the comedy of Transcendentalism has often been represented as little more than a merely parochial humorous outburst, it was the kind of inevitable comedy that arises from the tensions of a deeply serious human debate.
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