American Philosophy

New England Transcendentalists

What was The Dial?

The name for this publication was suggested by Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882). The simile was explained in the first issue this way:

And so with diligent hands and good intent we set down our Dial on the earth. We wish it may resemble that instrument in its celebrated happiness, that of measuring no hours but those of sunshine. Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics. Or to abide by our chosen image, let it be such a Dial, not as the dead face of a clock, hardly even such as the Gnomon in a garden, but rather such a Dial as is the Garden itself, in whose leaves and flowers the suddenly awakened sleeper is instantly apprised not what part of dead time, but what state of life and growth is now arrived and arriving.

The Dial became dormant in 1844, but was revived for a year in 1860. In 1880 it reappeared as a political magazine, and in 1920 as a literary modernist magazine, publishing essays, poetry, and art reviews until 1929.


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