The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson by Kevin J. Hayes | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson

The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson

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by Kevin J. Hayes
     
 

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Thomas Jefferson was an avid book-collector, a voracious reader, and a gifted writer—a man who prided himself on his knowledge of classical and modern languages and whose marginal annotations include quotations from Euripides, Herodotus, and Milton. And yet there has never been a literary life of our most literary president.

In The Road to Monticello, Kevin

Overview

Thomas Jefferson was an avid book-collector, a voracious reader, and a gifted writer—a man who prided himself on his knowledge of classical and modern languages and whose marginal annotations include quotations from Euripides, Herodotus, and Milton. And yet there has never been a literary life of our most literary president.

In The Road to Monticello, Kevin J. Hayes fills this important gap by offering a lively account of Jefferson's spiritual and intellectual development, focusing on the books and ideas that exerted the most profound influence on him. Moving chronologically through Jefferson's life, Hayes reveals the full range and depth of Jefferson's literary passions, from the popular "small books" sold by traveling chapmen, such as The History of Tom Thumb, which enthralled him as a child; to his lifelong love of Aesop's Fables and Robinson Crusoe; his engagement with Horace, Ovid, Virgil and other writers of classical antiquity; and his deep affinity with the melancholy verse of Ossian, the legendary third-century Gaelic warrior-poet. Drawing on Jefferson's letters, journals, and commonplace books, Hayes offers a wealth of new scholarship on the print culture of colonial America, reveals an intimate portrait of Jefferson's activities beyond the political chamber, and reconstructs the president's investigations in such different fields of knowledge as law, history, philosophy and natural science. Most importantly, Hayes uncovers the ideas and exchanges which informed the thinking of America's first great intellectual and shows how his lifelong pursuit of knowledge culminated in the formation of a public offering, the "academic village" which became UVA, and his more private retreat at Monticello.

Gracefully written and painstakingly researched, The Road to Monticello provides an invaluable look at Jefferson's intellectual and literary life, uncovering the roots of some of the most important—and influential—ideas that have informed American history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Another study of Thomas Jefferson, but with a difference: this one focuses on Jeffersona's thought, especially on its development from his youth. The booka's freshness and immediacy lie in the authora's emphasis on the libraries Jefferson accumulated and the marginal notes he left in the books he read. Hayes, a scholar of reading habits and print culture, takes us through Jeffersona's hugely wide and eclectic reading with an ease and lightness often missing from a subject central to American history: how Jefferson came to possess the ideas that have resonated through Americaa's concept of itself. The result is lengthy-necessarily so, for no contemporaries (John Adams excepted) read and collected books as widely as Jefferson. His marginalia and correspondence and the books he purchased yield a remarkable record of one mana's responses to what his mind encountered, absorbed and rejected. While the book wona't appeal to those who want to learn more of Jeffersona's active life, it will enlighten and delight all those drawn to Jefferson and the early years of so many classic American ideas. 12 b&w illus. (Aug.)

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Library Journal

In what will surely be the definitive work on the subject, Hayes (English, Univ. of Central Oklahoma; The Oxford Companion to Early American Literature) presents a scrupulously researched examination of the reading habits and thinking of our third President, effectively a biography of Thomas Jefferson's intellect over the course of his life. More than any previous researcher, Hayes has consulted the marginalia that Jefferson penned in the books that he owned, from his childhood favorites in the vernacular to authors such as Cicero, whom he read in the original Latin, and contemporaries like Joseph Priestley. Chronologically, Hayes discusses Jefferson's personal libraries: the one that was mostly destroyed by fire at Shadwell in 1770, the one he sold to the Library of Congress, the one he sold to James Madison, his vacation library at Poplar Forest, and his retirement library. The author's admiration for Jefferson is evident. Although Jefferson's public career has always been granted close examination, Hayes demonstrates that Jefferson's life of the mind also merits the close study provided here. Highly recommended for academic libraries and large public libraries.
—Thomas J. Schaeper

From the Publisher
"A tribute to Jefferson and is a praiseworthy accomplishment of its author.... Hayes is to be congratulated for this biography of Jefferson's intellect."—Dennie Hall, Daily Oklahoman

"By writing a 'literary life' of Jefferson, Mr. Hayes is able to approach his extremely well-known subject from unexpected angles."—Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun

"The book's freshness and immediacy lie in the author's emphasis on the libraries Jefferson accumulated and the marginal notes he left in the books he read. Hayes takes us through Jefferson's hugely wide and eclectic reading with an ease and lightness often missing.... The Road to Monticello will enlighten and delight all those drawn to Jefferson and the early years of so many classic American ideas."—Publishers Weekly

"Kevin J. Hayes adroitly accomplishes the formidable task of providing an intellectual biography of Jefferson without ever sounding dry or bookish and without losing sight of his day-to-day life. Grounded in extensive original research, The Road to Monticello is a lively, engaging life of the mind of America's most important founding father."—David S. Reynolds, author of Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson

"In what will surely be the definitive work on the subject, Hayes presents a scrupulously researched examination of the reading habits and thinking of our third President, effectively a biography of Thomas Jefferson's intellect over the course of his life. Although Jefferson's public career has always been granted close examination, Hayes demonstrates that Jefferson's life of the mind also merits the close study provided here."—Thomas J. Schaeper, Library Journal

"Kevin Hayes's Road to Monticello is a stunning contribution to Jefferson studies. Focusing on Jefferson's reading and writing, Hayes illuminates his subject's life and times. Taking Jefferson on his own terms and resisting the modern temptation to psychologize and moralize, Hayes nonetheless gives us a Jefferson of surprising depth and complexity. This is the kind of "life" Jefferson himself would have wanted to memorialize. The Road to Monticello is a magnificent achievement."—Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor, University of Virginia

"The world's leading expert on the book culture of early America, Kevin J. Hayes brings an unsurpassed knowledge and sensitivity to the story of Thomas Jefferson's life of the mind. Incorporating much exciting new information, Hayes's biography makes a major contribution to scholarship, but it also appeals to general readers. The Road to Monticello is intellectual biography in the grand manner."—Leo Lemay, Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Professor, University of Delaware

"The book's freshness and immediacy lie in the author's emphasis on the libraries Jefferson accumulated and the marginal notes he left in the books he read. Hayes takes us through Jefferson's hugely wide and eclectic reading with an ease and lightness.... The Road to Monticello will enlighten and delight all those drawn to Jefferson and the early years of so many classic American ideas."—Publishers Weekly

"Kevin J. Hayes adroitly accomplishes the formidable task of providing an intellectual biography of Jefferson without ever sounding dry or bookish and without losing sight of his day-to-day life. Grounded in extensive original research, The Road to Monticello is a lively, engaging life of the mind of America's most important founding father."—David S. Reynolds, author of Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson

"In what will surely be the definitive work on the subject, Hayes presents a scrupulously researched examination of the reading habits and thinking of our third President, effectively a biography of Thomas Jefferson's intellect over the course of his life. Although Jefferson's public career has always been granted close examination, Hayes demonstrates that Jefferson's life of the mind also merits the close study provided here."—Thomas J. Schaeper, Library Journal

"Kevin Hayes's Road to Monticello is a stunning contribution to Jefferson studies. Focusing on Jefferson's reading and writing, Hayes illuminates his subject's life and times. Taking Jefferson on his own terms and resisting the modern temptation to psychologize and moralize, Hayes nonetheless gives us a Jefferson of surprising depth and complexity. This is the kind of "life" Jefferson himself would have wanted to memorialize. The Road to Monticello is a magnificent achievement."—Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor, University of Virginia

"The world's leading expert on the book culture of early America, Kevin J. Hayes brings an unsurpassed knowledge and sensitivity to the story of Thomas Jefferson's life of the mind. Incorporating much exciting new information, Hayes's biography makes a major contribution to scholarship, but it also appeals to general readers. The Road to Monticello is intellectual biography in the grand manner."—Leo Lemay, Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Professor, University of Delaware

"Hayes's excellent new study, The Road to Monticello, is the very first literary biography of America's most well-read founding fatherEL [it] captures Jefferson not only as he saw himself but also as he wanted to be seen. It stands in marked contrast to recent studies that portray Jefferson as a Machiavellian politicoEL"
— Claremont Review of Books

"Buy and read this book. No one has so fruitfully scoured the shelves of Jefferson's library." —Journal of Southern History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199895830
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
07/01/2012
Pages:
752
Sales rank:
1,216,218
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)

Meet the Author

Kevin J. Hayes is Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma and the author of A Colonial Woman's Bookshelf, An American Cycling Odyssey, Melville's Folk Roots, and Poe and the Printed Word.

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Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
President Kennedy once opened a meeting of nobel laureates by saying, "I think this is the greatest assembly of talent and intellect at the White House, with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." Reading this book, you will arrive at the same conclusion. Jefferson's intellectual development may seem a scholarly or dry topic, but this book makes the man and his time come alive, and will make you think too. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My school went to momticello today and i got "the words of thomas jefferson" book and i reaaly want this book and also want thomas jefersons bible.
JPC-WI More than 1 year ago
It made me want to go where Jefferson went, see what he saw, and meet the people he knew. There were pages where it felt like that's what I was doing. It made me realize as never before how astonishingly educated Jefferson and many of the other founders were. Most of all it made me want to read what he read - and what he wrote. On page 283 Professor Hayes says, "In the hands of a sensitive reader, a book has the power to transcend the text it contains and become something magical." I don't consider myself a particularly sensitive reader, but this book was magic for me. I don't keep most of the books I read, but this one I will keep, and read again.
jeff54 More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
We have all read the declaration of independence, but how much thought did we give to the influences that went into that work.Hayes gives us insite to the people in jefferson's past and preasent who influenced jefferson in his early years as a student of william and mary through his retirement to his mountain top home in virginia. A lover of books he was devistated when his library burnt to the ground, he spent a lifetime gathering books many of which started the library of congrass.