BOOKS: HENRY ADAMS, RE-EDUCATED

A FICTIONAL CONCEIT INVOLVES THE GREAT WRITER IN A MURDER

Intellectualization, the capacity to turn any belly noise or bird's chirp into sane, ordered paragraphs, flowed like a pretty stream through the meadow of Henry Adams' life. So it may still seem to disenchanted literature students who find their way to graduation blocked by The Education of Henry Adams and Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres. The problem is not that Adams prattled but that reasonable, melancholy conclusions about 19th century civilization issued forth at an unvarying gush.

The notion of placing such a figure at the center of a murder story in the Paris of 1892 must have seemed both absurd and superb...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!