Bilingual Emerson

  • Oscar Montero
Part of the New Directions in Latino American Cultures book series (NDLAC)


References to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) appear throughout Martí’s writings, in articles, reviews and letters. In one of Martí’s epistolary articles for the Caracas newspaper La Opinión Nacional (national opinion), published on October 1, 1881, Martí refers to Emerson’s “natural philosophy,” perhaps his earliest reference to the author of Nature (9:49). The following year, within days of Emerson’s death, Marti wrote a long essay simply titled “Emerson.” It was also published in La Opinión Nacional, on May 19, 1882. The essay “Emerson” has been frequently anthologized and is the undisputed centerpiece of any discussion of Martí’s indebtedness to the famous New Englander. And yet, among Martí’s many references to Emerson, there is the intriguing phrase “The evening of Emerson” (la tarde de Emerson), a privileged moment “when man loses his sense of self and is transfused into the world” (cuando pierde el hombre el sentido de sí y se trasfunde en el mundo) (21:387). Through the canonical essay and the rather orphaned fragment, I want to review, if not answer, questions that are central to Martí’s worldview and to his debt to Emerson: What is the sense of this loss of self? What is meant by a “transfusion” into the world? Trasfundir or transfundir: to transfuse; to pour from one vessel to another.


Buddhist Scripture Radical Democrat Imperial Design Peaceful Life Social Revolutionary 
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© Oscar Montero 2004

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  • Oscar Montero

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