ISBN-10:
0674387570
ISBN-13:
9780674387577
Pub. Date:
02/01/1992
Publisher:
Harvard
Henry Adams: Selected Letters

Henry Adams: Selected Letters

by Henry Adams, Ernest SamuelsHenry Adams

Hardcover

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Overview

Henry Adams has been called an indispensable figure in American thought. Although he famously “took his own life” in the autobiographical Education of Henry Adams, his letters—more intimate and unbuttoned, though hardly unselfconscious—are themselves indispensable for an understanding of the man and his times.

This selection, the first based on the authoritative 6-volume Letters, represents every major private and public event in Adams’s life from 1858 to 1918 and confirms his reputation as one of the greatest letter writers of his time. Adams knew everyone who was anyone and went almost everywhere, and—true to the Adams family tradition—recorded it all. These letters to an array of correspondents from American presidents to Henry James to 5-year-old honorary nieces reveal Adams’s passion for politics and disdain for politicians, his snobbish delight in society and sincere affection for friends, his pose of dilettantism and his serious ambitions as writer and historian, his devastation at his wife’s suicide and his acquiescence in the role of Elizabeth Cameron’s “tame cat,” his wicked humor at others’ expense and his own reflexive self-depreciation.

This volume allows the reader to experience 19th-century America through the eyes of an observer on whom very little was lost, and to make the acquaintance of one of the more interesting personalities in American letters. As Ernest Samuels says in his introduction, “The letters lift the veil of old-age disenchantment that obscures the Education and exhibit Adams as perhaps the most brilliant letter writer of his time. What most engages one in the long course of his correspondence is the tireless range of his intellectual curiosity, his passionate effort to understand the politics, the science, and the human society of the world as it changed around him… It is as literature of a high order that his letters can finally be read.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674387577
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 02/01/1992
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Ernest Samuels is Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English, Emeritus, at Northwestern University and winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

Table of Contents

  • Abbreviations
  • Apprentice Years, 1858–1868
  • The Conquest of a Reputation, 1868–1885
  • In Search of Nirvana, 1886–1892
  • A Faustian Traveler, 1891–1899
  • Conservative Christian Anarchist, 1899–1905
  • The Benevolent Sage, 1906–1918
  • Genealogy of the Adams Family
  • Chronology
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Henry Adams is a rare bird in American letters: rich, autonomous, and socially unassailable; descendent of Presidents, secure within the genteel Establishment, yet holding himself aloof from it; historian of his country, toward which he felt a proprietary concern; and, by his own reckoning, 'a failure in politics and literature, in society and in solitude, in hatred and in love'...Besides enriching the stock of informal American literature--for embedded in them are novelistic episodes and passages of power and beauty--the letters constitute a kind of epistolary autobiography that complements Adams's more reticent memoir.

R. W. B. Lewis

The revision and abridgment of the three volumes have been performed with uncanny skill. What results is one of the most powerful literary-intellectual biographies ever done of an American.

Daniel Aaron

Henry Adams is a rare bird in American letters: rich, autonomous, and socially unassailable; descendent of Presidents, secure within the genteel Establishment, yet holding himself aloof from it; historian of his country, toward which he felt a proprietary concern; and, by his own reckoning, 'a failure in politics and literature, in society and in solitude, in hatred and in love'...Besides enriching the stock of informal American literature--for embedded in them are novelistic episodes and passages of power and beauty--the letters constitute a kind of epistolary autobiography that complements Adams's more reticent memoir.

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