Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in America: Their Friendship and Their Travelsby Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville, a young aristocrat of twenty-five, worried deeply about the future of France as well as his own fate in his native country, which had just experienced its second revolution in less than fifty years. Along with Gustave de Beaumont, a fellow magistrate, Tocqueville conceived the idea that by traveling to America he could penetrate the secret of
Alexis de Tocqueville, a young aristocrat of twenty-five, worried deeply about the future of France as well as his own fate in his native country, which had just experienced its second revolution in less than fifty years. Along with Gustave de Beaumont, a fellow magistrate, Tocqueville conceived the idea that by traveling to America he could penetrate the secret of the modern world, in which democracy and equality were destined to rule.
Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in America reproduces the journey of these two friends in an authoritative and elegant volume. Zunz and Goldhammer present most of the surviving letters, notebooks, and other texts that Tocqueville and Beaumont wrote during their decisive American journey of 1831-32, as well as their reflections and correspondence on America following their return to France. Also reproduced here are most of the sketches from the two sketchbooks Beaumont filled during their travels. The two young men relied on these documents in writing their individual works on America, Tocqueville’s seminal Democracy in America (1835-40) and Beaumont’s novel Marie or, Slavery in the United States (1835).
Focusing on American equality, Tocqueville made a lasting contribution to Western political thought by framing modern history as a continuous struggle between political liberty and social equality, and presented the United States as having struck a proper balance between the two ideals. Beaumont concentrated instead on the brutality of racial prejudice. These extraordinarily rich and often profound texts constitute the indispensable record of their intertwined engagement with the United States, which we see here through the unfailingly intelligent gaze of two young Frenchmen with a unique appreciation of what was novel in the American experiment.
Tocqueville's Democracy in America is a book that every American who reads should read. There's no better book on democracy and none better on America, first home of modern democracy.
Among a wave of new translations and analyses in recent years, these two volumes provide elegant decoration for Tocqueville’s masterpiece. Frederick Brown has edited and translated a handy collection of the letters Tocqueville wrote while traveling through America in 1831-32, speaking with Americans and gathering documents in preparation for his book. Olivier Zunz and Arthur Goldhammer have produced a tome fit for a generous gift, containing the same letters as in Mr. Brown's collection, plus Tocqueville's travel notebooks, narrations of his side-trip to the frontier, later letters, other writings on America and ample selections of writings from Tocqueville's friend and companion on the trip, Gustave de Beaumont. This book even includes pictures of American birds that Tocqueville and Beaumont shot so that Beaumont could paint themthus illustrating Tocqueville's uncanny appeal both to the left (lovers of nature) and the right (lovers of hunting).
Lucidly translated, excellently edited, and handsomely produced, this superb volume offers a unique collection of the views of Tocqueville and Beaumont on early America. Their abundant correspondence and travel notes, written during their journey through the US, allows readers to follow the flow of impressions and perspectives that culminated in Tocqueville's classic Democracy in America (1835). This edition also does full justice to the thought of Gustave de Beaumont....Indispensible reading for anyone interested in Tocqueville or in early US politics and society. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries
Here, for the first time in English, are the primary documents for understanding Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous commentary on Democracy in America. Olivier Zunz’s learned, judicious, and fluent introduction identifies Tocqueville’s sources of information and compares his impressions with those of his companion Beaumont. An essential book for the history, political science, and sociology of America.
Annelien de Dijn
Especially considering the dispersion of the original letters and the travel notebooks over several different volumes of Gallimard's Oeuvres complètes and of the Pléiade edition, it is useful to have all the materials related to the American journey together in one handy volume. In addition, the fact that we have here not just Tocqueville's voice but also that of his travel companion Beaumont is more than an added bonus. The comparison with Beaumont, as this volume makes clear, is crucial for understanding how the actual journey impacted the two friends in very different ways. In addition, the letters and other writings are beautifully translated by the unparalleled Arthur Goldhammer, and the footnotes and scholarly apparatus are meticulously researched as well as user-friendly. All in all, Tocqueville and Beaumont in America is a worthy and important addition to the ever-increasing volume of Tocqueville's translated oeuvre.
- University of Virginia Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 7.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 2.10(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Olivier Zunz is Commonwealth Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He edited (with Alan S. Kahan) The Tocqueville Reader: A Life in Letters and Politics, authored Why the American Century?, and served as president of The Tocqueville Society/La Société Tocqueville. Arthur Goldhammer has translated more than 110 works from the French, including Tocqueville's Democracy in America and The Ancien Régime and the Revolution He is an affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, and a member of the editorial board of French Politics, Culture, and Society.
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