The Original 1841 Essay With Twelve New Essays


A refreshed and covetable new edition of a timeless text


ISBN: 9780500024478 Category:

Ralph Waldo Emerson


One of Fortune‘s ‘Best Books of 2021’

When Ralph Waldo Emerson published his seminal essay on self-reliance in 1841, the United States was still reeling from the effects of a calamitous financial collapse four years earlier. His positive vision for the power of individualism and personal responsibility was issued in a climate of panic and uncertainty, at a time when the values of society and humanity were shifting. Emerson’s text is widely available to read online, but this new edition, produced with Design Observer, elevates his wisdom through the printed word.

The global pandemic of 2020 has reshaped our world as well as our thinking, but Emerson’s call to independence remains as relevant and energizing as ever. Written as the first waves of the virus surged, Jessica Helfand’s twelve accompanying essays address various aspects of artistic engagement – writing, drawing, thinking, making – expanding on the spirit of Emerson’s essay to reimagine the process and practice of what it means to be truly creative.

Presented in a covetable pocket-book format intended to be read, carried, consulted and to inspire throughout our new daily lives, and featuring two marker ribbons for easy reference, this is a timeless book for all places and all seasons.

Additional information

Weight 188 g
Dimensions 13.6 x 20.5 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 27 April 2021
Number of pages 96
Format Hardback
Contributors Text by Jessica Helfand
Dimensions 13.6 x 20.5 cm
Weight 188 g


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Jessica Helfand is an artist, designer and writer. She grew up in Paris and New York City, and was educated at Yale University where she taught for more than two decades. A founding editor of Design Observer, she is the author of numerous books on visual and cultural criticism, including Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture, Design: The Invention of Desire and Face: A Visual Odyssey.