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St. Mary's University

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Transcendentalism, a philosophical and literary movement, flourished in the United States beginning around 1836. The movement started as an American religious, philosophical, and literary movement; however, it should not be limited by a specific geographic area or time period, which would fail to maintain its uniqueness and value. Transcendentalism served to enlighten people and minimize society’s intellectual oppression and its intention continues. It could lead to a healthier society, especially in the case of the Middle East. Religious oppression has taken over many Middle Eastern countries, particularly Egypt and Palestine where authors have reflected on living under oppressive regimes by writing against them to enlighten their people. Even though these writers were not, as far is known, directly influenced by or had any part in the Transcendentalist Movement, they arrived at many of the same principles and beliefs as the Transcendentalists. The political, religious, and literary oppression that they faced, and the ways they found to resist and push against it, made Transcendentalists of them. Transcendental aspects can be detected in the works of Mostafa Mahmoud, an Egyptian doctor, philosopher, and writer, whom has much in common with Ralph Waldo Emerson, the founder of the movement, and Mahmoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet, whom has much in common with Henry David Thoreau, a follower of Emerson whom put his theory into practice. A close reading of these four writers argues that Transcendentalism is more than an American movement confined to 1836; this movement is a worldwide solution for reducing intellectual oppression, which can be shown through Emerson and Mahmoud’s ideas on individuality and their redefining of religion and nature and Thoreau and Darwish’s perspectives on solitude, the individuality of thought, and understanding of physical nature. By adopting Transcendentalist thought, these authors made political statements that they shared, subversively, with their readers, who in turn adopted these ways of thinking, resulting in the undermining of the current political situation.