• Swedenborg: Introducing the Mystic

    By Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Edited by Stephen McNeilly

    Swedenborg: Introducing the Mystic, originally published in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Representative Men in 1850, casts a sharp critical eye over the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), placing him among other great men of genius such as Michel de Montaigne and William Shakespeare. It has since become one of the most influential and widely read essays on Swedenborg ever written. Read more

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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s groundbreaking essay on Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), originally published in Emerson’s book Representative Men in 1850, places the Swedish philosopher and mystic alongside other great men of genius, including Michel de Montaigne and William Shakespeare. Casting a sharp critical eye over the central tenets of Swedenborg’s philosophy, Emerson examines the dynamic relationship between Swedenborg’s mysticism and his scientific ways of reasoning.

Innovative, critically aware, and thoroughly engaging, Emerson’s essay is an indispensable tool in reading Swedenborg and understanding his subsequent influence on writers as established and respected as August Strindberg and Jorge Luis Borges. This accessible new edition includes a contextual introduction by Stephen McNeilly, a chronology of Swedenborg’s life and works, a chronology of Emerson’s life and works, endnotes, and an index.

About the Author

Ralph Waldo Emerson is a globally renowned writer, essayist, poet, and lecturer who led the Transcendentalist movement in the mid-nineteenth century. Heralded today as one of the greatest writers of North America, Emerson had a profound influence on subsequent US and European literature and philosophy. His key works include Nature (1836), The American Scholar (1837), and The Conduct of Life (1860). Swedenborg: Introducing the Mystic is taken from his 1850 classic Representative Men.

Stephen McNeilly is the director of the Swedenborg Society and series editor of the Journal of the Swedenborg Society and the Swedenborg Archiveimprint. For the Society he has published numerous volumes, including An Angel Speaks with Homero Aridjis and J. M. G. Le Clézio; Philosophy, Literature, Mysticism: An Anthology of Essays with Czeslaw Milosz et al.; Swimming to Heaven: the Lost Rivers of London with Iain Sinclair; Blake’s London: The Topographic Sublime with Iain Sinclair; and Several Clouds Colliding with Brian Catling and Iain Sinclair. He is also a visiting lecturer in art, philosophy and critical theory at several universities in the United Kingdom.


“When reading Swedenborg, read Emerson alongside.”

—August Strindberg

Established in 1810, the main aim of the Swedenborg Society is to translate and publish the works of Emanuel Swedenborg. The Society was incorporated in 1925 and has since become a registered educational charity. Housed in a historic building in central London, they sell not only their own books but Swedenborg-related titles from other publishers, as well as offering a reference and lending library.

The Swedenborg Foundation offers a selection of the Swedenborg Society’s most popular titles, including the Journal of the Swedenborg Society, each volume of which consists of a collection of articles about Swedenborg’s influence from some of the leading international scholars.

Complete list of Swedenborg Society books we carry.

All Swedenborg Society books we carry are imported and contain British spelling, punctuation, and word usage.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson





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