THE LETTERS OF HENRY ADAMS: 1892-1918 by

THE LETTERS OF HENRY ADAMS: 1892-1918

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the second volume of the Letters. (the first having been published eight years ago). Two years ago, Little, Brown published The Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams. These three volumes, along with The Education of Henry Adams mark a milestone in American letters, a final verdict on a passing age in American society and letters. Here is no profound commentary on the passing scene, but in its caustic, hyper-critical, frequently scathing, dismissal in brief phrase of the political and social matters that were stirring the world, the letters reveal an on-looker with a detached viewpoint and a barbed pen. It is disappointing that he seems to look no deeper into what was going on, but his letters are entertaining reading in their very superficiality. His life compassed such stirring matters as the Dreyfus case, the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, the World War. But none of these seemed to penetrate his own life very deeply. He was more concerned with the plight of a world which seemed to be going from bad to worse, with a Washington that was incredible, with a Congress that was a scandal, with trade unions, the younger generation, the Jews -- his version of hard times defined as ""the squeeze"". It has a strangely familiar note -- all of this! He was a world wanderer and the letters come in rapid succession from Washington, Paris, Cuba, Mexico, the West Indies, Cairo, Syria, Athens, Constantinople, the Balkans, Hungary, and back again to Paris or Washington or London. An observer rather than a doer, he knew intimately those in high places, and depicted them with acid pen. He emerges as an individual, not very admirable, but rather entertaining in perspective. His own activities, for it was during this period that he wrote his two most popular works, Mont St. Michel and Chartres and The Education (both privately printed), are passed over so lightly that one is surprised to learn that the work has been done. The market for this is fairly obvious.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1938
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin