The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (英語) ハードカバー – 2008/7
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The sheer variety of Jefferson's many pursuits-he was an inventor, horticulturist, statesman, architect, and philosopher, among many other things-almost mask the singularity of his genius. But there is little doubt that our third president was also one of America's greatest intellectuals. This superb new biography focuses on Jefferson's intellectual and literary life. It follows Jefferson's education from adolescence to adulthood, examines his interests, and gives new interpretations of his writings. Early writings, including A Summary View of the Rights of British America, the Declaration of Independence, and Notes on the State of Virginia are analyzed in depth. Hayes also provides substantial coverage of Jefferson's professional, social, and literary activities in Paris and his travels through Europe. He devotes a chapter to the time he served as secretary of state and his publication, The Anas, an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at George Washington's presidency. His tenure as vice-president and president is considered in light of the ideas and relationships that were most salient for him during those crucial years. Separate chapters treat his correspondence with John Adams, the formation of the Library of Congress and his retirement library, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, The Autobiography, and the founding of the University of Virginia. Overall, the biography offers an intimate portrait of the life of the mind that Jefferson cultivated and dreamed of one day developing to its full potential while in retirement at Monticello.
a major contribution to bthe literature which tells us much that is new about Jefferson (The Journal of American Studies)商品の説明をすべて表示する
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The laureates took the unintended slight with good grace. How could they have not? Thomas Jefferson was without doubt our most cerebral president. He may not have had the academic discipline of a Woodrow Wilson or the native wisdom of a Lincoln. But as we all know, and as Kevin Hayes documents in impressive detail in his splendid Road to Monticello, there's never been a more bookish president, nor a wider-read one, than Jefferson.
Hayes has written an old-style (I mean this as a compliment, by the way) intellectual biography. Jefferson's public career is mentioned in passing, but what Hayes is primarily concerned to do is chart the course of Jefferson's thought from his earliest to his final days by charting his reading. Who were the authors that especially impressed him? That he found especially wanting? What connections between his diverse readings did he make? What were the blindspots and lacunae in his thinking and reading? Why did he select the quotes he jotted down in his Commonplace Books? In short, what Hayes wants to do in The Road to Monticello is get a clearer picture of Jefferson the thinker from examining the books he thought about.
Jefferson's erudition is impressive. He read in six languages (including Anglo-Saxon), and was interested in Asian, Indian, and Semetic languages. And he read everything: law, politics, philosophy, geography, history, the occasional theology tome, anthropology, science, music, fiction, poetry, agronomy, cookbooks. His curiosity was boundless, and never abated as the years rolled on. He cross-referenced his readings with marginalia: his law books, for example, frequently contain scribbled references to Greek tragedians and historians. He collected books avidly, during a time when book collecting wasn't all that easy. Hayes tells us that whenever Jefferson rolled into a city, he quickly made his way to the bookshops. By the end of his life, he'd amassed one of the finest collections in the early Republic, which (characteristically) he catalogued according to a system of his own invention. (Hayes' description of it is fascinating, especially for those of us who know a little about Francis Bacon.)
But Jefferson was also an extremely secretive man, and even though Hayes provides us with an excellent account of the cerebral food that fed Jefferson's intellect, I closed the book feeling that Jefferson the man still remained more enigmatic than not. Hayes tells us what Jefferson thought about, but what made him tick remains elusive. This isn't Hayes' failure so much as Jefferson's refusal to leave no personal memoirs, no tormented self-examinations in his Commonplace Books, and very few epistolary revelations. Ultimately, then, Hayes helps us penetrate the mind of Jefferson. But the third president's soul remains unexplored, as it probably always will.
Highly recommended. A genuine treat.
Anyone interested in the formation of great personal and public libraries; literature and learning in early America; the personal life and travels of Thomas Jefferson and his great literary works (e.g., The Declaration of Independence) should buy and read this deeply informative and finely crafted book.
Potential readers should be aware this is not a detailed political history, nor is it one that explores Mr. Jefferson's complex attitudes and actions concerning slavery. Other books should be consulted for better descriptions of such important points as the political/economic differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and the role played by Sally Hemings in Mr. Jefferson's home life.
But the book is about more than just TJ, as if that were not enough. The reader learns, for example, a great deal about the "book culture" of the colonial and early national period, as well as the general intellectual life. But Jefferson himself is the dominant focus. The author follows a chronological approach, so that those familiar with TJ's life can slot this new knowledge into their existing frameworks, while novices learn a great deal about TJ's life generally. I think the book well illustrates the connections between Jefferson's intellectual interests and his political positions and philosophical orientation. I found the extent of his foreign-language reading quite interesting, as well as his interest in just about everything that was going on, from the weather, to Indians, to archeology, to all manner of scientific research, farming and gardening, winemaking, and the list just goes on and on. The author's discussion of Jefferson's views on slavery and how his intellectual interests contributed to developing his thoughts on this topic is particularly helpful. The reader also learns much more about Jefferson the author, as all his books (yes, there are more than just the "Notes on the State of Virginia") are discussed in detail. Moreover, we gain a valuable insight into not only how TJ made some friendships, but how his inner circle interacted with one another, often on the basis of shared intellectual interests.
The book is extremely thorough, so sometimes the reader can get buried in an ocean of titles and authors--but this abundance is one reason the book is so rich in contributions. The author is an extremely prolific English professor from Oklahoma with whom I was not acquainted previously. However, to paraphrase what Gore Vidal once said re Jefferson: if you are interested in TJ, you must be with Kevin J. Hayes and this extraordinary study.
Hayes's writing is sophisticated and the book is well researched, something remarkable provided how many literary works it describes. Often, one gets the feeling that Hayes has truly made new discoveries about Jefferson not found anywhere else. It is an amazing scholarly work.
However, I have to warn people who are looking for a complete biography of Jefferson that this book is not it. I highly recommend it to those wanting to get to know Jefferson more profoundly in terms of what he studied and what mattered to him, or for those simply looking for inspiration from a great man.
This book can be summarized on page 564, "The Retirement Library" where Jefferson comments to Adams that "I cannot live without books."
Hayes did an excellent job relating Jefferson's life through the spectrum of books he read- from boyhood until his deathbed. Whether you like Jefferson or not- it is easy to appreciate his thirst for knowledge. Each chapter was perfect in length. Hayes' use of the English language is refreshing- I always enjoy learning plenty of new words.
I actually cried...almost sobbed...in the chapter that his wife died. People seemed much more romantic then...Martha wrote "Time wastes too fast, every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity life follows my pen. The days and hours of it are flying over our heads like clouds of a windy day never to return- more everything presses on." And Jefferson responds, "and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, every absence which follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation which we are shortly to make." ahh, what a good book.