During the many years that they were separated by the perils of the American Revolution, John and Abigail Adams exchanged hundreds of letters Writing to each other of public events and private feelings, loyalty and love, revolution and parenting, they wove a tapestry of correspondence that has become a cherished part of American history and literature With Abigail and John Adams, historian G J Barker Benfield mines those familiar letters to a new purpose teasing out the ways in which they reflectedand helped transforma language of sensibility, inherited from Britain but, amid the revolutionary fervor, becoming Americanized Sensibilitya heightened moral consciousness of feeling, rooted in the theories of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Adam Smith and including a moral sense akin to the physical sensesthreads throughout these letters As Barker Benfield makes clear, sensibility was the fertile, humanizing ground on which the Adamses not only founded their marriage, but also the abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity they and their contemporaries hoped to plant at the heart of the new nation Bringing together their correspondence with a wealth of fascinating detail about life and thought, courtship and sex, gender and parenting, and class and politics in the revolutionary generation and beyond, Abigail and John Adams draws a lively, convincing portrait of a marriage endangered by separation, yet surviving by the same ideas and idealism that drove the revolution itself A feast of ideas that never neglects the real lives of the man and woman at its center, Abigail and John Adamstakes readers into the heart of an unforgettable union in order to illuminate the first days of our nationand explore our earliest understandings of what it might mean to be an American....
|Title||:||Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility|
|Publisher||:||University of Chicago Press First edition November 1, 2010|
|Number of Pages||:||520 pages|
|File Size||:||896 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility Reviews
G. J. Barker-Benfield's book Abigail and John: The Americanization of Sensibility is different from the many other books published on these two, including the new book by Joseph Ellis First Family: Abigail and John Adams. Several of the reviewers of Ellis's work mention that there is little new in it. There have been so many books written about the founding mothers and fathers, it is hard to imagine there is anything new to say. But Barker-Benfield has done just that. Barker-Benfield's book focuses on sex and gender, and like his two previous books, is utterly original. His feminism, evident in all his work starting with The Horrors of the Half Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in 19th America (1968), a landmark volume in the women's health movement, reissued by Routledge in 2000, contributes to this originality. Other feminists have described Abigail, but Barker-Benfield always studies women and men together (what they think of each other, and say about and to each other), and in so doing brings new insights. Abigail and John, is a long-awaited sequel to The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth Century Britain (U Chicago 1996), the magnum opus of the culture of sensibility which situated the rise of a heightened consciousness of feeling to growing prosperity. In that book he describes the pleasure-seeking behaviors of women and men, including the sexual mores of both. Here too, he focuses not only on gender but also on sex, including the sexual flirtations between Abigail and John in their voluminous correspondence during the many years during which man and wife were separated. As in his earlier work, Barker-Benfield shows a keen ear for lubricity. The final chapters which recount the way John and Abigail managed, or more accurately mismanaged the courtship of their daughter Nabby, are riveting and heartbreaking. This dramatic story would lend itself to a Merchant and Ivory-type movie. In sum, Barker-Benfield has produced another tour de force. His style of writing is British. American readers may find they have to work a bit harder than they are accustomed to do, but the effort is well worth it. Barker-Benfield's learned prose is elegant, free of jargon, and often witty. While he is not there yet, in good time he will no doubt surpass the genius of renowned humorist Jasper Wilson.
Having taken the book out of the library three times for a total of nine weeks, I finally finished it. There is no new material about the Adams' but much insight that has been overlooked. My only objection to the book is that it wasn't in chronological order and darted back and forth through the years.