It has taken me more than ten years to write this book. I drafted an essay on Emerson's theory of language during the summer of 1988, when I had the good fortune to attend Hans Aarsleff's NEH Summer Seminar at Princeton University. That work seeded many summers of research and writing, all supported by Washington and Lee University's John M. Glenn Faculty Grant program. In addition, sabbatical leaves came at two crucial points in the writing and revising of the book. A Class of 1962 Fellowship allowed me to take a full year's leave in 1990-91, and during the fall of 1995 the Lewis Law Center of Washington and Lee provided quiet office space and excellent staff support. As dean and now as president, John Elrod has personified the unflagging generosity of my home institution.
Personal debts are a pleasure to acknowledge, in particular when they stretch back so far. Ward and Peggy Allen have discussed the figures in this study and influenced my thinking about them more than even they realize. My senior colleague Severn Duvall guided me toward the work of William Gilmore Simms and has kept up a running conversation on Emerson for some fifteen years now. Richard Brodhead and Marie Borroff got me started many years ago, and their critical writings have served as exemplary models to follow. Philip Gura and David M. Robinson provided excellent advice in their critical readings of the manuscript. My colleagues in the English Department at Washington and Lee, junior and senior, have listened to me even at my least eloquent. Monika Eaton and our four girls have listened to me even at my most vehement. To all of these people I extend my deepest gratitude.
Several libraries provided resources and support in large measures: Washington and Lee's Leyburn Library; University of Virginia's Alderman Library; Princeton University's Firestone Library; Harvard University's Houghton Library and University Archives; the Boston Public Library;