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The Education of Henry Adams

av Henry Adams

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2,489404,609 (3.76)121
'Every generalisation that we settled forty years ago, is abandoned'As a journalist, historian and novelist born into a family that included two past presidents of the United States, Henry Adams was constantly focused on the American experiment. An immediate bestseller awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1919, his The Education of Henry Adams (1918) recounts his own andthe country's education from 1838, the year of his birth, to 1905, incorporating the Civil War, capitalist expansion and the growth of the United States as a world power. Exploring America as both a success and a failure, contradiction was the very impetus that compelled Adams to write theEducation, in which he was also able to voice his deep scepticism about mankind's power to control the direction of history. Written with immense wit and irony, reassembling the past while glimpsing the future, Adams's vision expresses what Henry James declared the `complex fate' to be an American,and remains one of the most compelling works of American autobiography today.… (mer)
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    The Adams Chronicles: Four Generations of Greatness av Jack Shepherd (RedEyedNerd)
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    pitjrw: Two great books covering the same period and events but one from perspective of a close cotemporary observer and the other eighty years later.
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    Main Line WASP: The Education of Thacher Longstreth av W. Thacher Longstreth (bertilak)
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Henry Adams, the grandson of JQ Adams, records the story of his life from the perspective of his search for a proper education. His is a life of privilege, allowing him the time to ponder the world and his role in it without the encumbrance of traditional employment. He questions formal education, like his time at Harvard, and feels most of what is taught is useless at best. Adams, because of his lineage, has a front-row seat to observe the events of the nineteenth century, and at times foresees problems on the world stage. Although he has no need for an income, he does earn money by writing his observations.

I'm glad I read the book. It represents a unique perspective. I didn't think it was particularly well written, but I do acknowledge that he never meant it to be published for a wide distribution. That could explain its rough edges. I found that I needed assistance to get through it, so I approached each chapter by reading a Cliff Notes summary first, just to get my head around where he was heading, then I opened up the LibriVox recording and listened while I was reading. That helped immensely. Recently I read an article that encouraged a reader to stretch themselves every once in a while. This book was once of those times for me. ( )
  peggybr | Sep 4, 2021 |
long autobio put in terms of education rather than deeds
  ritaer | Aug 19, 2021 |
Fiction
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
This is one of the more unusual memoirs I’ve read. Rather than a self-satisfied appraisal of the author’s achievements, Adams casts himself as a failure. Of course, measured by the standards of his heritage – grandson and great-grandson of presidents – perhaps an understandable feeling, since he never held public office. In fact, the only job he held was that of assistant professor of history at Harvard for seven years, which he treats in a chapter entitled Failure. Perhaps the closest analogies among books I’m familiar with would be the confessions of Augustine and Rousseau.
The key to the work is that he titled it neither memoir nor autobiography, but “education.” So I continually asked myself what he meant by that. The author describes himself repeatedly as a product of the 18th century, although born in 1838. He laments that his classics-based education did nothing to prepare him for a world dominated by coal and capital. It seems then that by education he means some guidance in how to figure out what’s going on in a rapidly changing world and make his way in it. But he describes his first spring in D.C., with the beauty of Rock Creek Park, as one of the best parts of it. Contrasted with this was the 10 days he spent at the bedside of a beloved older sister, witnessing her death agony, also described as education. All the more strange, then, that he passes over the twenty years of his marriage. He never refers to his wife, their happiness, nor her suicide; there is only an enigmatic reference to the bronze figure he commissioned his friend St. Gaudens to place in Rock Creek Park. Was none of this part of his education, or was the lesson too painful to share?
On the more mundane level of education, that of curriculum, apparently he would have preferred mathematics, natural sciences and modern languages. Well, his program carried the day, the education I received was very much what he outlined. What do educators say about that today? Is it still the recipe? What should education aim to accomplish, how should it go about the task? What about the student, the subject of education? Adams seems to doubt that the cherished 18th century liberal values of extended suffrage and universal education will produce a better society. He is undeniably an elitist. Recounting his experience on the Harvard faculty, he reports that:
“The number of students whose minds were of an order above the average was, in his experience, barely one in ten; the rest could not be much stimulated by any inducements a teacher could suggest. . . Adams [the author refers to himself in the third person throughout] thought that, as no one seemed to care what he did, he would try to cultivate this tenth mind, though necessarily at the expense of the other nine.”
His aristocratic tendencies are also on display as he shudders on his journey through Pennsylvania and Ohio on his way to the St. Louis exhibition in 1904 at the hordes of Germans and Slavs who came to service the mines and furnaces. And whenever he needs a stock figure to express comic disapproval, he reaches for the Jew.
The book culminates in two chapters in which he expounds what he calls a dynamic theory of history, accompanied by a law of acceleration; it involves applying concepts borrowed from physics to questions of historical process. He had laid the groundwork for this theory in an earlier chapter, The Dynamo and the Virgin, in which he contrasts these two great forces. This contrast sheds light on his decision to write a memoir at all. His previous book, Mont St. Michel and Chartres, deals with the high middle ages, the apogee of mankind feeling itself as a unity. Subsequent development, Adams maintains, was in the direction of multiplicity, even fragmentation. He chose to chronicle his lifelong feeling of ignorance as an exemplum of this new state of affairs.
One of the rewards of reading this book was that it is liberally sprinkled with his acerbic wit. Overall, though, the tone reminded me most of Koheleth, as the unknown author of Ecclesiastes is sometimes referred to. Both look back at the end of life with the realization that the achievements of each were a striving after wind.
( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
This book was interesting but moved slowly. Adams didn't have many friends, was a misanthrope, and didn't fit anywhere except as mediocre student in the school of life. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (28 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Henry Adamsprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Lodge, Henry CabotFörordmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Morris, EdmundInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Under the shadow of Boston State House, turning its back on the house of John Hancock, the little passage called Hancock Avenue runs, or ran, from Beacon Street, skirting the State House grounds, to Mount Vernon Street, on the summit of Beacon Hill; and there, in the third house below Mount Vernon Place, February 16, 1838, a child was born, and christened later by his uncle, the minister of the First Church after the tenets of Boston Unitarianism, as Henry Brooks Adams.
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'Every generalisation that we settled forty years ago, is abandoned'As a journalist, historian and novelist born into a family that included two past presidents of the United States, Henry Adams was constantly focused on the American experiment. An immediate bestseller awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1919, his The Education of Henry Adams (1918) recounts his own andthe country's education from 1838, the year of his birth, to 1905, incorporating the Civil War, capitalist expansion and the growth of the United States as a world power. Exploring America as both a success and a failure, contradiction was the very impetus that compelled Adams to write theEducation, in which he was also able to voice his deep scepticism about mankind's power to control the direction of history. Written with immense wit and irony, reassembling the past while glimpsing the future, Adams's vision expresses what Henry James declared the `complex fate' to be an American,and remains one of the most compelling works of American autobiography today.

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