The Ice Harp

Available Jul 04, 2023

240 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $17.99
ISBN: 9781954276178


ISBN: 9781954276185

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“In The Ice Harp, Norman Lock deftly takes us into the polyphonic swirl of Emerson’s mind at the end of his life, inviting us to meet the man anew even as the philosopher fights to stop forgetting himself. Who will I be when the words are gone, the great thinker wonders, and how will I know what is right? I gladly asked myself these same impossible questions on every page of this remarkably empathetic and deeply moral novel.”

Matt Bell, author of Appleseed and Refuse to Be Done

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“Here is Emerson unleashed—caustic, brilliant, befuddled, wrangling with the living and the dead. Delights of language and character shine on every page of The Ice Harp as Emerson confronts his own humanity.”

Victoria Redel, author of Before Everything and Paradise

In 1879, toward the end of his life, the Sage of Concord has lost his words. Beset by aphasia and grief, Ralph Waldo Emerson is scarcely recognizable as America’s foremost essayist and orator. To the dismay of his wife, he frequently entertains the specters of his fellow transcendentalists, including Whitman, Thoreau, John Muir, and Margaret Fuller, and frets about the future of humankind and the natural world. Does the present displace the past? Do ideas always precede actions? What responsibility does each of us bear for the downtrodden, the preservation of liberty, and the Earth itself? These metaphysical concerns become concrete when Emerson meets a Black soldier accused of killing a white man who abused him. The soldier’s presence demands a response from Emerson, an action outside the parlors of philosophy and beyond the realm where language and logic hold sway.

The Ice Harp, the tenth stand-alone book in The American Novels series, is a poignant portrayal of a literary luminary coming to terms with the loss of memory, the cost of inaction, and the end of life.

Excerpt from The Ice Harp

Available Jul 04, 2023