Synopses & Reviews
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.
The sheer variety of Jefferson's many pursuits - he was an inventor, horticulturist, statesman, architect, and philosopher, among many other things - almost mask the singularity of his genius. But there is little doubt that our third president was also one of America's greatest intellectuals.
This superb new biography focuses on Jefferson's intellectual and literary life. It follows Jefferson's education from adolescence to adulthood, examines his interests, and gives new interpretations of his writings. Early writings, including A Summary View of the Rights of British America, the
Declaration of Independence, and Notes on the State of Virginia are analyzed in depth. Hayes also provides substantial coverage of Jefferson's professional, social, and literary activities in Paris and his travels through Europe. He devotes a chapter to the time he served as secretary of state and
his publication, The Anas, an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at George Washington's presidency. His tenure as vice-president and president is considered in light of the ideas and relationships that were most salient for him during those crucial years. Separate chapters treat his correspondence
with John Adams, the formation of the Library of Congress and his retirement library, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, The Autobiography, and the founding of the University of Virginia. Overall, the biography offers an intimate portrait of the life of the mind that Jefferson cultivated and
dreamed of one day developing to its full potential while in retirement at Monticello.
This superb new biography focuses on Jefferson's intellectual and literary life. Hayes follows Jefferson's education from adolescence to adulthood, examines his interests, and gives new interpretations of his writings.
About 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.
Table of Contents
Book I: The Education of Thomas Jefferson
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