From Publishers Weekly
Scrapbooking may be trendy today, but it's not new: in the early 19th century, Thomas Jefferson clipped poems from newspapers and pasted them into books that he gave to his granddaughters. In a handsome and hefty tome, Gross, an expert on the British Romantics who has studied Jefferson's interest in their poetry, has reproduced Jefferson's favorite verses, many of them dealing with nationhood and a vision of republican leadership. Other poems deal with family, celebrating both a father's patriarchal authority over his children and his tender love for them. Jefferson's ambivalence toward women is captured: verse that seems misogynistic ("a wife should be... not
like CLOCKS—harangue so clear,/That All the town her voice might hear") vies with remarkably forward-thinking poems by and about women. Gross's fascinating introduction explains why scholars, who once believed Jefferson's granddaughters made these scrapbooks, now attribute them to the Sage of Monticello. The editor also suggests that these poems reveal much about Jefferson's values and view of the world—but Gross could have gone further in spelling out just what we learn about our third president by reading the poems he loved. (May 1)
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"Thomas Jefferson's Scrapbooks is an elegantly produced and judiciously edited anthology that is sure to interest both academics and well as general readers interested in Jefferson and the history and culture of the early American republic. Jonathan Gross has done a stunning job making sense of a vast trove of texts that illuminate much about Jefferson's sensibility, his sense of taste and politics, and indeed his personal life. Each section is introduced informatively, and the appendices will enlighten all sorts of readers. This book provides the materials with which to think about Jefferson in light of popular culture, Romantic thought, and the larger relations between American and British cultures.
— Philip Gould, Professor of English, Brown University
"Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott and Burns are among Jefferson's major companions in a previous unrecorded ten-year conversation that will permanently change Jefferson studies. Deeply sensitive to the tensions between the exteriority of neoclassicism and the interiority of romanticism, Jonathan Gross is a masterful editor."
— Jay Fliegelman, author of Declaring Independence
"Thanks to Jonathan Gross's comprehensive annotations and introduction, the Scrapbooks
offer even non-specialist readers a variety of fascinating insights into the complexity of Jefferson's inner life."
— Karl Kroeber, Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
"A dramatic glimpse into the mind of Jefferson. In these pages, he emerges as both a casual reader and a political partisan. What did he clip from the newspaper? What poetry stirred him? The cerebral president had a sense of humor and a strikingly sentimental side that can be easily gleaned from this fascinating volume."
— Andrew Burstein, author of Jefferson's Secrets