The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

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Macmillan, Nov 1, 2005 - History - 262 pages
17 Reviews
"My intention, my hope, is to revive interest in... John Calvin. If I had been forthright about my subject, I doubt that the average reader would have read this far." That's the introduction to one essay, but it could also apply to most of Robinson's (Housekeeping) first book in nearly a decade. Among the 10 essays here is one on the idea of wilderness and an intensely personal meditation on growing up Presbyterian, but these are essentially afterthoughts to an impassioned argument against America's contemporary social Darwinists cum free marketeers. And here's where Calvin comes in. She rebuts the characterization of Calvin as protocapitalist and the quick dismissal of his Puritan followers as prigs. Instead, she finds in their example a more fulfilling morality, one that substitutes personal responsibility for contemptuous condemnation of our fellows and a more personal, independent relationship with God and conscience. The corollary of the notion that "our unhappiness is caused by society, is that society can make us happy," she writes, adding, "Whatever else it is, morality is a covenant with oneself, which can only be imposed and enforced by oneself." Though there are occasional problems, for example, the argument "an important historical 'proof' very current among us now is that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence unconscious of the irony of the existence of slavery" is simply a straw man. But for the most part her moral integrity is accompanied by an equally rigorous intellectual integrity, and rather than accepting received wisdom she hunts it out for herself among original texts. In the process, she revives founding beliefs as a possible solution for current ills.
  

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Review: The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

User Review  - Tyler Hurst - Goodreads

A set of phenomenal essays on the modern way of thinking. I think this book blows up and exposes many of the short-comings in contemporary thought. Read full review

Review: The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

User Review  - Goodreads

A set of phenomenal essays on the modern way of thinking. I think this book blows up and exposes many of the short-comings in contemporary thought. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Darwinism
28
Facing Reality
76
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
108
McGuffey and the Abolitionists
126
Puritans and Prigs
150
Marguerite de Navarre
174
Marguerite de Navarre Part II
207
Psalm Eight
227
Wilderness
245
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the modern classic Housekeeping--winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award--and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country (FSG, 1989) and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

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