Robert Bray Reading With Lincoln

ISBN 13: 9780809329953

Reading With Lincoln

3.86 avg rating
( 7 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780809329953: Reading With Lincoln

Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln’s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life.

At the core of Lincoln’s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children’s classics to his interest in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln’s thoughts and actions.

            Exploring in great depth and detail those readings that inspired the sixteenth president, author Robert Bray follows Lincoln’s progress closely, from the young teen composing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors to the politician who keenly employed what he read to advance his agenda. Bray analyzes Lincoln’s radical period in New Salem, during which he came under the influence of Anglo-American and French Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, C. F. Volney, and Voltaire, and he investigates Lincoln’s appreciation of nineteenth-century lyric poetry, which he both read and wrote. Bray considers Lincoln’s fascination with science, mathematics, political economics, liberal social philosophy, theology, and the Bible, and devotes special attention to Lincoln’s enjoyment of American humor. While striving to arrive at an understanding of the role each subject played in the development of this remarkable leader, Bray also examines the connections and intertextual relations between what Lincoln read and how he wrote and spoke.

            This comprehensive and long-awaited book provides fresh insight into the self-made man from the wilderness of Illinois. Bray offers a new way to approach the mind of the political artist who used his natural talent, honed by years of rhetorical study and practice, to abolish slavery and end the Civil War.

 

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Robert Bray is the Colwell Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University. He is the author or editor of numerous articles and books, including Rediscoveries: Literature and Place in Illinois.

 

Review:

“In this subtle, insightful study, Robert Bray offers the first scholarly account of Lincoln’s reading. A professor of English, Bray has a keen literary sensibility and broad culture that enable him to shed bright light on the development of Lincoln’s taste and on the ways in which the books he read influenced his thinking and writing.” —Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life  “Robert Bray has not only discovered every book and text and poem and treatise and humorous sketch and Shakespeare play that Lincoln read; he has also read them himself, and he takes the reader inside those readings—and therefore inside Lincoln’s mind—in this excellent book.”—William Lee Miller, author of President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman

“Abraham Lincoln’s reading, like almost everything else about him, was quite distinctive. Robert Bray’s approach to this important aspect of Lincoln’s development is both original and provocative, for it aims at giving us not only the substance of Lincoln’s most consequential reading but the all-important texture and flavor as well.” —Douglas L. Wilson, author of Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words

 

Reading with Lincoln adds an important dimension to our understanding of our sixteenth president’s mind. It effectively delineates the rich resources of literature and language that he brought to his political career. Bray’s discussion of Lincoln’s reading in religion and science is especially cogent. It should finally put to rest the claim that Lincoln was a Christian.” —Fred Kaplan, author of Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer

 

 



Lincoln Revealed through the Books He Read

Robert Bray's Reading with Lincoln is a welcome addition to the endless list of Abraham Lincoln titles.  Do we really need another book on Lincoln?  The answer in this case is a resounding and somewhat ironic, yes.  It turns out that we need a book on Lincoln and books.  Bray has written a masterful account of Lincoln as a reader.  The catalog of books he read is impressive and fascinating and gives a new window into the man.  Lincoln was a classic autodidact and to journey through his life in books is to see his mind in formation and action.  Bray has to do some speculation to fill in Lincoln's library and what he actually read, but his guess work is honest and well grounded, giving his book some of the pace and interest of a mystery story.

Lincoln was an eclectic reader and read low-brow regional humor as much as he did classics and William Shakespeare.  Bray, through
Lincoln, brings to life the lost world of publishing and reading taste in the mid-nineteenth century.  Nothing ages faster and to its detriment more than humor writing and writing on popular politics and current events.  Lincoln read deeply in such literature in his time.
In reconstructing Lincoln's studies Bray delivers a study of faded popular works, like those of Artemus Ward and Petroleum Vesuvius
Nasby (David Ross Locke).  Lincoln defied the educational snobbery and standards of his day and proselytized for regional humor and
obscure Western political prose.  His reading helped make him unique and also let him step into a more modern form of expression and
communication confidently divorced from the long-winded, classical allusion-laden style of the politicians and academics who considered themselves his social and educational betters.  This even came up in his cabinet where he regaled his colleagues with "low" humor tales taken from Ward and Nasby that mystified most of them and tried their patience.  But with the benefit of hindsight we can see how Lincoln was developing a speaking, political, and writing style more attuned to the modern democracy he would not live to see.

Lincoln built his own world of expression and knowledge over a long period.  Lincoln's self-education—and limited formal education— began with the moral didactics found in readers; grammars; popular versions of Aesop; and, of course, sermons and the Bible.  If
much of what constituted Lincoln's early reading is guesswork, the books Bray discusses are still fascinating chances to speculate about the development of Lincoln's mind.  The roots of Lincoln's religious skepticism are one such puzzle.  Constantin de Volney's writing on history, civilization, political philosophy, and theology in The Ruins (1791), now forgotten, clearly was a formative experience.
Lincoln also read Thomas Paine and probably David Hume.  The poetry of Robert Burns and Lord Byron—long emphasized by biographers of Lincoln—also get a strong analysis from Bray.  Lincoln wrote his own poem in 1838, "The Suicide's Soliloquy," which was even darker than its title.  In the realm of poetry, some authors have tried to link Lincoln's modern sensibility to his reading Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855), but Bray shows that this connection of the two great contemporaries is a fabrication.  Lincoln read more obscure poets, like Thomas Hood, whose satirical tone he admired.

In the books Lincoln read, both a satirical and serious vein shines through that mirrors the contours of his personality.  As grammars
were a key in his formative years, legal commentaries honed his early adult mind.  He then turned his rational legal skills to dissecting
human nature and creation itself.  Robert Chamber's Vestiges of Creation (1844) gave Lincoln grounding in radical science.  He
also read Theodore Parker and other theological radicals.  In one of the strongest sections of the book, Bray shows how Lincoln's views of humanity, religion, and politics found a chord in his eclectic mastery of Shakespeare.  Many minds have found similar solace in the
bard, but Bray's most original and crowning achievement is his account of Lincoln's love of low-brow regional humor, especially Ward
and Nasby.  Lincoln really comes alive through these authors whose rough humor he performed for White House colleagues.  Lincoln's
psychology, as far as we can know it, in which high spirits and depressive near nihilism coexisted, reveals itself in these authors.
They had humor but also a grim view of human motivations and abilities.  It is a testament to Bray's skill that Shakespeare, Paine, Byron, William Blackstone, Chambers, and the others set the stage for Ward and Nasby.  Bray shows the reader the rough insight into human nature both in the popular comedy that Lincoln treasured and in the better known authors.  Great ideas came to life in Lincoln's bawdy jokes and jests, and that ability to inspire and instruct in a common medium was perhaps his greatest genius as a politician and a man.

Bray is to be commended for his outstanding scholarship and lively presentation of Lincoln's reading history.  Lincoln spent a large
portion of his life immersed in books.  Bray shows that though we are immersed in Lincoln studies, a new Lincoln can still be unearthed.  A man who studied so much merits much study, and Bray's originality in doing so rewards his readers.

(John Patrick Daly H-CivWar, H-Net Reviews 2012-02-01)

null (Martin P. Johnson Journal of Illinois History 2010-06-01)

null (James Tackach The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 2011-04-01)

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Robert Bray
Published by University of Chicago press
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description University of Chicago press. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0809329956

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 22.55
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Bray, Robert
Published by Southern Illinois Univ
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois Univ. Book Condition: BRAND NEW. BRAND NEW Hardcover A Brand New Quality Book from a Full-Time Bookshop in business since 1992!. Bookseller Inventory # 2026767

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 30.94
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Bray, Robert
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2010. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # TX-9780809329953

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 28.20
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Robert Bray
Published by Southern Illinois University Pre (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Bookworm
(Carbondale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Pre, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Signed. First Edition. SIGNED BY AUTHOR; new first edition hardcover in new jacket; no marks. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000095437

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 30.36
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Robert C. Bray
Published by Southern Illinois University Press, United States (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life. At the core of Lincoln s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children s classics to his interest in Shakespeare s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln s thoughts and actions. Exploring in great depth and detail those readings that inspired the sixteenth president, author Robert Bray follows Lincoln s progress closely, from the young teen composing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors to the politician who keenly employed what he read to advance his agenda. Bray analyzes Lincoln s radical period in New Salem, during which he came under the influence of Anglo-American and French Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, C. F. Volney, and Voltaire, and he investigates Lincoln s appreciation of nineteenth-century lyric poetry, which he both read and wrote. Bray considers Lincoln s fascination with science, mathematics, political economics, liberal social philosophy, theology, and the Bible, and devotes special attention to Lincoln s enjoyment of American humor. While striving to arrive at an understanding of the role each subject played in the development of this remarkable leader, Bray also examines the connections and intertextual relations between what Lincoln read and how he wrote and spoke. This comprehensive and long-awaited book provides fresh insight into the self-made man from the wilderness of Illinois. Bray offers a new way to approach the mind of the political artist who used his natural talent, honed by years of rhetorical study and practice, to abolish slavery and end the Civil War. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780809329953

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 35.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Robert C. Bray
Published by Southern Illinois University Press, United States (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life. At the core of Lincoln s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children s classics to his interest in Shakespeare s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln s thoughts and actions. Exploring in great depth and detail those readings that inspired the sixteenth president, author Robert Bray follows Lincoln s progress closely, from the young teen composing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors to the politician who keenly employed what he read to advance his agenda. Bray analyzes Lincoln s radical period in New Salem, during which he came under the influence of Anglo-American and French Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, C. F. Volney, and Voltaire, and he investigates Lincoln s appreciation of nineteenth-century lyric poetry, which he both read and wrote. Bray considers Lincoln s fascination with science, mathematics, political economics, liberal social philosophy, theology, and the Bible, and devotes special attention to Lincoln s enjoyment of American humor. While striving to arrive at an understanding of the role each subject played in the development of this remarkable leader, Bray also examines the connections and intertextual relations between what Lincoln read and how he wrote and spoke. This comprehensive and long-awaited book provides fresh insight into the self-made man from the wilderness of Illinois. Bray offers a new way to approach the mind of the political artist who used his natural talent, honed by years of rhetorical study and practice, to abolish slavery and end the Civil War. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780809329953

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 36.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Robert C. Bray
Published by Southern Illinois University Press, United States (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life. At the core of Lincoln s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children s classics to his interest in Shakespeare s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln s thoughts and actions. Exploring in great depth and detail those readings that inspired the sixteenth president, author Robert Bray follows Lincoln s progress closely, from the young teen composing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors to the politician who keenly employed what he read to advance his agenda. Bray analyzes Lincoln s radical period in New Salem, during which he came under the influence of Anglo-American and French Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, C. F. Volney, and Voltaire, and he investigates Lincoln s appreciation of nineteenth-century lyric poetry, which he both read and wrote. Bray considers Lincoln s fascination with science, mathematics, political economics, liberal social philosophy, theology, and the Bible, and devotes special attention to Lincoln s enjoyment of American humor. While striving to arrive at an understanding of the role each subject played in the development of this remarkable leader, Bray also examines the connections and intertextual relations between what Lincoln read and how he wrote and spoke. This comprehensive and long-awaited book provides fresh insight into the self-made man from the wilderness of Illinois. Bray offers a new way to approach the mind of the political artist who used his natural talent, honed by years of rhetorical study and practice, to abolish slavery and end the Civil War. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780809329953

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 37.61
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Bray, Robert
Published by Southern Illinois University Press (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Books2Anywhere
(Fairford, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, 2010. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # CE-9780809329953

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 30.56
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 11.87
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Robert Bray
Published by Southern Illinois University Press (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0809329956

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 41.44
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Robert Bray
Published by Southern Illinois University Press (2010)
ISBN 10: 0809329956 ISBN 13: 9780809329953
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0809329956

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 47.78
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book