Using English Traits as his point of departure, LaRocca explores the presence and significance of metaphors in Emerson. In doing so, he shows their centrality to Emerson's thinking, but also reminds us of their centrality to all thinking. For example, purity metaphors abounded in nineteenth-century discourse in science, literature, and philosophy. Emerson picks up on this phenomenon, both to examine and undermine it. Why, for instance, would a faith in purity be philosophically dangerous? Purity is merely one of a host of metaphors that reveal problematical implications. Others include: blood, race, family, nation, genealogy, anatomy, and melancholy. By throwing light on Emerson's scrutiny of the great metaphors of his age, LaRocca lays bare the allusive and anecdotal aspects of Emerson's prose-the way it makes possible thinking on certain topics, and renews thinking of other issues. Metaphors are ubiquitous and yet-or, for that very reason-go largely unseen. We are all susceptible to blindness for metaphors. This book serves as a set of "reminders" of certain features of the natural history of our language.
David LaRocca studied philosophy, film, rhetoric, and religion at SUNY-Buffalo, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and at Harvard University, where he was Sinclair Kennedy Traveling Fellow in the United Kingdom. He is is the author of On Emerson (Wadsworth, 2003) and editor of Stanley Cavell's book Emerson's Transcendental Etudes (Stanford University Press, 2003), he writes regularly on topics in aesthetics, literary theory, and film. His essays have been published in volumes such as Nietzsche e L'America (Recensioni Filosofiche, Pisa 2005), New Morning: Emerson in the Twenty-first Century (SUNY Press 2008), Emerson for the Twenty-First Century (University of Delaware Press, 2010).