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May/June 2004 Historically Speaking nium symphony that he chose to title Four Seasons (performed at the Epcot Center on NewYear's Eve at the close of 1999), and the versatile Mark O'Connor would fuse jazz, folk, rock, and classical traditions into yet another work that he called American Seasons. Its phases and moods deliberately range from infancy and adolescence into coming-of-age, maturity, old age, and death. In the explicitly Christian version of such a scheme, winter does not mean death and finality but rebirth and renewal. Hence in the iconography we often see an old man imparting knowledge to a youngster—the transmission ofwisdom as a metaphor for the transition to new life. We have had both the secular and the spiritual versions of this venerable motif, which endures emphatically in our own time for multiple reasons. It reassures us even as itsignifies a theme that we can track ever since antiquityin the moralizing myths ofGreece and Rome, the mosaic floors of Near Eastern synagogues, the carved reliefs on marble sarcophagi, and painted images in the catacombs ofearly Christian Rome. The seasons have always been with us, of course, but their ascribed meanings are continuously reworked in different societies and cultures in engaginglyvaried ways. SoAnthony Dorarne, a resident ofthe Tesuque Pueblo near Santa Fe, observed twenty-fiveyears ago that "cycles are circles that travel in straight lines. The seasons come in cycles, yet each season marks the passage ofanotheryear. We receive our names, plant, harvest, marry, dance, sing, and are buried in concert with the [seasonal] cycles." During the same decade, the 1970s, JoniMitchellwouldwrite herimmenselypopular folkballad, long since become a standard camp song, "The Circle Game." And the seasons, they go round and round, And the painted ponies go up and down. We're captives on a carousel of time. The historian's craft being deeply engaged by change over time, I have tried in a recent project to capture the manifold and varied expressions of seasonality in relation to the accelerating dynamics and patterns ofAmerican life, social imperatives, and cultural production . MichaelKämmen, the Newton C. Farr Professor ofAmerican History and Culture at Cornell, is the author ofATime to Every Purpose: The Four Seasons in American Culture (University ofNorth Carolina Press, 2004). Unveiling Tocqueville the Historian John Lukacs The history ofhistoryis part ofhistory. So is the history ofreputations. For almost a century after Alexis de Tocqueville 's death (1859) his reputationwas quite limited, oddly even within his own country, except for a scatteration of thoughtful and independent thinkers. Some time after 1945, however, interest in Tocqueville commenced to spread, even in France. Publication of the enormous mass of his completed works {Oeuvres Compl ètes: OC hereafter) began in 1951 (they amount to about two dozen large volumes, and more than fifty-twoyears later the end is notyet). Meanwhile presidents cited at least one ofTocqueville's prophetic paragraphs (fromthe end ofvolumeIofDemocracy in America); several new (and at least one unnecessary) translations ofthat famous work have appeared; there are nowTocqueville societies , Tocqueville clubs, restaurants (one in NewYork) calledTocqueville, and areputable stock-and-bond-and-gold fund bearing his name. By the early 1960s we may detect the existence of a Tocqueville cottage industry. The firstcomprehensive and authentic biogStill , for at least one hundred years after his deathfewpeople, and few historians, have regardedand treated Tocqueville as a historian. raphy ofTocqueville, by André Jardin, was published in 1984 (its translation in 1988 in the United States). Jardin's successor, Françoise Mélonio, is the prime Tocqueville scholar in our time. Without the (dubious) benefits ofthe Internet and its bibliographical "information" but maintaining an enduring interest in Tocqueville, I venture to estimate that during the last twenty-five years more books and articles dealing with Tocqueville may have appeared than in any comparable period since the first volume oiDemocracy in Americawas published in 1835. They differ, and for different reasons. One of these is political and ideological: for Tocqueville was, and remains, uncategorizable. There are, in my opinion, three important questions about Tocqueville that deserve consideration. Was he a conservative or a Uberai ? Was he a social thinker or a historian? Was he a Catholic? Of these the firstquestion...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
pp. 9-11
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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