Cover: Henry Adams in HARDCOVER

Henry Adams

Selected Letters

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Product Details


$78.00 • £62.95 • €70.00

ISBN 9780674387577

Publication Date: 02/01/1992


608 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

16 halftones and 2 line drawings on a 12-page black & white insert

Belknap Press


Ernest Samuels has performed a valuable service in making Adams’s letters accessible for the first time to a large audience. For these letters are compelling and important… The proximity and sensitivity to power that gave many of Adams’s letters lasting interest and credibility also set a more personally interested agenda for his correspondence.The Nation

A superbly edited one-volume collection containing much of Adams’s most significant and illustrative correspondence.Choice

Henry Adams is a rare bird in American letters: rich, autonomous, and socially unassailable; descendant 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.—Daniel Aaron

From reviews of The Letters of Henry Adams:

These brilliant letters [are] an incomparable commentary on politics, literature, science, and the world at large in the last half of the nineteenth century… Henry’s sometimes fiendishly accomplished, subtle, and ironic mind has fascinated readers of The Education of Henry Adams ever since it was posthumously published in 1919… What will always fascinate those with a taste for history is Adams’ personal experience of history and his grasp of events. I know of no other American, except his grandfather, who saw so much of the great world of Europe and America, described everything so closely, and so obsessively called himself a ‘failure.’—Alfred Kazin, The New Republic

The public knew Henry Adams, if it knew him at all, as a historian, and that was only one of the several arts he practiced that he publicly professed. But he was also something of a novelist, a poet, a painter, and an autobiographer. And as [these volumes] amply prove, he was also a master of the vanishing art of letter writing and the arts of friendship that go with it… The letters in themselves—gracefully mixing intimate with public affairs, the profound with the hilarious, filled with humor, pathos, learning, esoterica, gossip, and insider state secrets, and exploding with fury, frustration, and contempt over the stupidities of his times—are an invaluable contribution to American literature and the intellectual history of this period… In short the letters are an indispensable source of information about their author and the large part of his life and work he kept private.—C. Vann Woodward, The Washington Post Book World

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