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

( 6 )

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 intellectual development, focusing on the ...

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

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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 intellectual development, focusing on the books that exerted the most profound influence on his writing and thinking. 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 Fortunatas and The History of Tom Thumb that 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 literary culture of colonial America, identifies previously unknown books held in Jefferson's libraries, reconstructs Jefferson's investigations of such different fields of knowledge as law, history, philosophy, and natural science and, most importantly, lays bare the ideas which informed the thinking of America's first great intellectual.

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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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199895830
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2012
  • Pages: 752
  • Sales rank: 793,265
  • 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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Table of Contents

Book I: The Education of Thomas Jefferson
1. Fire!
2. A Boy and His Books
3. A Correct, Classical Scholar
4. William and Mary
5. The Williamsburg Circle
6. The Limits of English Law
7. A Shelf of Notebooks
8. Becoming a Burgess Book II: Family and Nation
9. Domestic Life and Literary Pursuits
10. Rude Bard of the North
11. A Summary View of the Rights of British America
12. The Pen and the Tomahawk
13. The Declaration of Independence
14. The Book Culture of Philadelphia and Williamsburg,
Contrasted
15. Of Law and Learning
16. Lines of Communication
17. Notes on the State of Virginia
18. The Narrow House
19. An American Odyssey Book III: Our Man in Paris
20. Bookman in Paris
21. Talking about Literature
22. London Town
23. Summer of '86
24. An Inquisitive Journey through France and Italy
25. A Tour through Holland and the Rhine Valley
26. Last Days in Paris Book IV: Servant of the People
27. The Young Idea
28. The Anas
29. Letters from a Virginia Farmer
30. The Vice-President and the Printed Word
31. The First Inaugural Address
32. Wall of Separation
33. "Life of Captain Lewis"
34. President as Patron of Literature Book V: Monticello
35. Return to Monticello
36. Letters to an Old Friend
37. The Library of Congress
38. The Retirement Library
39. The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth
40. The Autobiography
41. The University of Virginia from Dream to Reality
42. The Life and Soul of the University An Essay on Sources

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2011

    Readable and Fascinating

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Monticello

    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.

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  • Posted June 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Highly recommend this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the 2 or 3 best books of history/biography I've ever read.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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