The Schmooze

Emerson, Emma Lazarus and the Jews

On June 13, Harvard University Press published a luxuriantly definitive Variorum edition of poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which may cast light on a still-remembered episode in American Jewish literary history. The poet Emma Lazarus, whose “New Colossus” adorns the Statue of Liberty, knew Emerson personally, and her admiring essay “Emerson’s Personality” was collected in a compelling 2002 anthology from Broadview Press.

After years of receiving Emerson’s praise and advice for her poems, Lazarus was nevertheless omitted from his landmark 1874 anthology, “Parnassus.” Feeling shocked and betrayed, Lazarus wrote to her erstwhile mentor Emerson:

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Emerson, Emma Lazarus and the Jews

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