We’ve moved!
Visit the new Library of America blog at our new website: www.loa.org/news-and-views

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“The human young Alexis de Tocqueville is much more impressive than the cold abstraction . . .”

Sean Wilentz catches the wandering eye of 26-year-old Alexis de Tocqueville in his review of Leo Damrosch’s Tocqueville’s Discovery of America:
When the energetic, young French liberal aristocrats Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont toured the United States in 1831 and 1832 ostensibly to study America’s prisons, their minds, not surprisingly, often turned to more alluring subjects. “In addition to a very fine library, our host has two charming daughters with whom we get along very well,” Tocqueville wrote to his sister-in-law from a well-appointed home in Canandaigua, New York. “Suffice it to say that we gazed at them even more willingly than at their father's books.”

Author Leo Damrosch’s response when The Juvenile Instructor blog asked which is the best translation of Democracy of America:
Tocqueville’s language was a mixture of florid prose and seventeenth century aristocratic French dialect, while still remaining quite lively. Unfortunately, because of his old-fashioned vocabulary, most English translations end up being too dull or dead to really capture the text’s beauty. To Damrosch, the translation that comes the closest to recreating Tocqueville’s playful prose is Arthur Goldhammer’s edition in the Library of America series.
Damrosch makes the same recommendation in this recent interview on C-Span

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature