Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29356 times)
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Bob
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« Reply #1485 on: November 10, 2007, 11:48:38 AM »

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In a subsequent C-SPAN broadcast which dealt with Education, several call-in viewers said that while they greatly admired the bio, they believed Mont-Saint-Michel was HB Adams' greatest book.

I think, but I'm not sure, that I read Mont Saint Michel book decades ago. I'll have to see if the library has a copy. I think I might have read it in pieces...I remember being "instructed" to read the Mont book first but  at the time I never understood why---the understanding only came years later when I was in College.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1486 on: November 10, 2007, 12:28:07 PM »

I'm finding The Education far more enjoyable than Mont Saint Michel/Chartres.  But, on my comment on Virginians, I realize this was an impression from early in life.  And at that time, it was not Virginia, but Virginians....perhaps having to do with his family association with the Free Soilers.  I thought Anne (Virginian) might be amused.

Bob, your library sound wonderful.  I like to sit in my living room in an oversized chair to read.  The room has a six-foot wide window, so the light is good.  This is also my music room, where I teach, so I keep my non-music books in another part of the house. 

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1487 on: November 10, 2007, 12:46:42 PM »

Dzimas....I remember sitting down to read the first time after my youngest left home for college....couldn't do it.  The silence was overwhelming.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #1488 on: November 10, 2007, 02:15:33 PM »

``Hopefully you can locate another edition.``


Lucky for me, my guardian angel {identity to remain a secret} has ordered another edition and it's on its way!

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madupont
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« Reply #1489 on: November 10, 2007, 03:33:52 PM »

Bob,

"It's the end of an era of sorts."    That was exactly my first impression, upon reading the obit. Marks the end of a generation, a hall-mark of some kind. Particularly for those whose life was involved in that aspect of New York and how Mailer's very mixed modes flowed outwards into the life of the nation.   He always seemed to expand his persona to a larger public as he pushed on with his life.

It was particularly the cliche that we have always observed; having just seen him four to five months ago when having a heart to heart with Gunter Grass about those difficulties of a writer in finding just how to say something with appropriate timing.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #1490 on: November 10, 2007, 05:41:04 PM »

I remember reading Mailer's The Naked and the Dead in college. It was quite an eye opener which presented a genuine portrait of war's ugliness. This quite in contrast with the glorification of war shown on commercial TV. Certain critics hated Mailer for making such a truthful portrayal. But none could deny that he presented the truth.
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #1491 on: November 10, 2007, 11:49:57 PM »

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To his life as a whole he was a consenting, contracting party and partner from the moment he was born to the moment he died. Only with that understanding--as a consciously assenting member in full partnership with the society of his age--had his education an interest to himself or to others.

I guess back in the day one need not attain the age of majority before entering into contracts.

How very extraordinary, to see oneself as capable of partnering a society and an age!  I'm guessing dear Henry suffered not from what was to be called low self-esteem.  How 'bout the other end of the scale -- delusions of grandeur?   
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Bob
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« Reply #1492 on: November 11, 2007, 11:59:17 AM »

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I'm guessing dear Henry suffered not from what was to be called low self-esteem.  How 'bout the other end of the scale -- delusions of grandeur?

I wouldn't go that far, but insufferable he could be, an was. Entitled, he certainly was. He lived in a different world than we. He knew his position and in that day and age privilege was excercised. Today, of course, the privieged are expected to be humble and deferential---back then privilege was exercised. Having said that, though, insiufferable might cover his condescending, sometimes haughty attitude toward those he considered his inferiors. I'll be honest with you, his sarcasms are hillarious at time. His cutting remarks rank him up there with Pincess Alice -- he was a male version of Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that expectations were put on families like his--they were expected to be exceptional and to contribute more than the average guy. They were forced by their families, as he was, to go to schools which had good names, but crappy education in the classic sense. And they were expected to be different. That's part of what made Princess Alice what she was--she refused to meet the expectations put on her by others...and to some extent, so did Adams---he tried to stand on his own, hold his own views, and, of course, paid a price for that.

After four generations of "greatness"--having produced Samuel, John, John Quincy and Charles Francis, the family gene pool was in decline. There was to be no continuation after Henry----the family was spread too widely after 126 years...(Samuel, cousin of John, was born in 1722, Henry was born in 1838).
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1493 on: November 11, 2007, 12:09:18 PM »

Bob...did you find him insufferable?  I liked him.  His attitude is quite common among young men.  Fear overbalanced by ego.  The belief that they have a unique perspective on the world and that others somehow miss the boat....a sort of existentialism (perhaps necessary for success later in life?).  What is uncommon is that Adams was able to look back on it in later life and give such clear reportage of his early life. 
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Bob
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« Reply #1494 on: November 11, 2007, 12:18:24 PM »

People around him found him overbearing at times and insufferable. But like you, I like him. I like your phrase "fear overbalanced by ego." His ability to double back on himself and make the judgements he did is close to unique among prominent men and women.

I like all the Adams's. Have you  read Brookhiser's AMERICA'S  FIRST DYNASTY, THE ADAMSES  1735-1918? Its just over 200 pages.
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Bob
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« Reply #1495 on: November 11, 2007, 12:21:04 PM »

I'm watching woody Allen's SLEEPER while typing this. In it Allen, after awakening is going through photographs of prominent historical figures and says: "This is Norman Mailer--he donated his ego to Harvard University for study."

Great line.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1496 on: November 11, 2007, 01:52:54 PM »

I haven't read it, but may look into the Adam's biography.  I tend to come into non-fiction through the back door.  I read Adams' Mont Saint Michel because I enjoyed Proust.
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madupont
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« Reply #1497 on: November 11, 2007, 03:16:51 PM »


I'm watching woody Allen's SLEEPER while typing this. In it Allen, after awakening is going through photographs of prominent historical figures and says: "This is Norman Mailer--he donated his ego to Harvard University for study."

Great line.


Speaking of which, Salon dashed out a periodical style obit by gleaning mentions from a variety of books that they probably reviewed from the famous who give at least a paragraph on "meeting Norman".

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2007/11/11/mailer_obit/

Thanatopsy will have to look into the account of how The Naked and the Dead, post-period, was survived.
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mlewis78
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« Reply #1498 on: November 11, 2007, 03:36:35 PM »

Hi, all.  I just checked in here last night and discovered that you are reading Henry Adams.  I have it but hadn't read it yet.  I have the Mariner Books paperback reprint from 2000.  Read two chapters last night. 

On page 10, there is a paragraph about Adams liking Quincy because it's in the country.  Yet

"Quincy was in a way inferior to Boston, and that socially Boston looked down on Quincy."
"Quincy had no Boston style."


"Bathrooms, water-supplies, lighting, heating, and the whole array of domestic comforts, were unknown at Quincy.  Boston had already a bathroom, a water-supply, a furnce, and gas.  The superiority of Boston was evident, but a child like it no better for that."

Didn't realize until I read this that there was plumbing in the 1840's.  Is this correct?  I never really thought about it but had assumed that since our family house in NJ (which was sold this year), built around 1900, had an out-house and chamber pots until some time later, before my time, when a bathroom was added upstairs (replaced a very small bedroom).

By the way, has anyone here been in touch with Mary to let her know that this book will be discussed?  I might have her email address.
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #1499 on: November 11, 2007, 06:29:05 PM »

Bob: I understand what you are saying re noblesse oblige and wonder if that idea is really dead and gone.  Though it may be no longer connected with birth, perhaps the idea that those who obtain great wealth should "give back" is not entirely lost, just transformed into foundations and other enterprises providing for the social good. 

As far as Henry Adams's 'tude in his writing, can he be considered a founder of the snark school of commentary? 
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