Read e-book online American Writers, Volume 1 PDF

By Leonard Unger

ISBN-10: 0684136732

ISBN-13: 9780684136738

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When one sees the emperor lolling in his hot bath and shouting at his brothers about the Louisiana Purchase, one feels that Adams is here dealing with a different kind of force from that generated by Jefferson, by Burr, by Canning, or even by Andrew Jackson. The mere fact that Napoleon is the only man in nine volumes whom we see in a bathtub underlines his individuality. Eventually, the processes of history would right themselves, and Napoleon's empire would disintegrate, even more quickly than it was put together, but it still remains a phenomenon unique in European history.

If Adams was aloof from the political and economic competition of his day it was not because he was the grandson of a president and, on his mother's side, of the richest merchant in Boston. It was quite of his own volition. Had he been born obscure the idea would never have occurred to him, as an old and respected seer, that he was a failure. From earliest childhood he was close to the great. When he refused to go to school, it was old John Quincy Adams himself who took him by the hand and led him there.

He, of course, is Adams himself, a first-class traveler, as selective in his scholarship as he undoubtedly is in his foods and wines, with nothing to interrupt him in a happy season of poking about in Gothic cathedrals. The atmosphere of the golden age of tourism pervades the story. A generation before, and travel was all dusty roads, jolting carriages, and pot-luck inns. A few years later it would be the sharing of treasures with a million seekers and a thousand buses. But just at the turn of the century, with the advent of the automobile, for a brief delectable time, the past belonged to a few happy exquisites, who wrote big illustrated volumes such as Henry James's Italian Hours (1909) and Edith Wharton's A Motor-Flight through France (1908).

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American Writers, Volume 1 by Leonard Unger


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