FIRST WE READ, THEN WE WRITE:
Emerson on the Creative Process.
By Robert D. Richardson.
Univ. of Iowa Press. 101 pp. $19.95
“Stop if you find yourself
becoming absorbed, at even the first paragraph.” So advised Ralph Waldo Emerson on the perils of reading. As Robert D. Richardson eloquently shows in
First We Read, Then We Write, this admonition is of a piece with Emerson’s awareness, articulated in mordant comments throughout his life, that while reading is essential to good writing, it also insistently threatens to subdue the creative impulse. “Each of the books I read invades me, displaces me,” he once complained....