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Feb 3 Thu 7pm Democracy & Its Discontents:A Look at Henry Adams' Political Novel

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  • Anita J Malinski
    Open University of the Left presents: Democracy and Its Discontents: A Look at Henry Adams Political Novel Writer/critic Hugh Iglarsh leads a session on
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2005
      Open University of the Left presents:
      "Democracy" and Its Discontents: A Look at Henry Adams' Political

      Writer/critic Hugh Iglarsh leads a session on Henry Adams' 1879
      novel, "DEMOCRACY," an examination of the inner workings of the
      political process in Gilded Age America. After a century and a
      quarter, this tragicomic novel of ideas retains its bite. The
      heroine, the young widow Mrs. Madeleine Lee, is the alter ego of
      Henry Adams himself – a detached and intelligent aristocrat bent
      on understanding the forces shaping the modern age, yet fearful of
      becoming entangled in the corruption and materialism just under the
      surface of elite Washington society. Mrs. Lee is courted by the
      powerful Senator Silas Ratcliffe, a kingmaker and likely future
      president. Ratcliffe is one of the memorable characters in American
      fiction, a shrewd, egotistic, yet compelling amoralist who embodies
      the age of Grant and Jay Gould.

      Witty, penetrating and profound, "DEMOCRACY" is a great read and a
      valuable reminder that electoral shenanigans and corporate payola
      have deep roots in American soil. In Adams' view, political
      corruption is not an aberration; it is the fist within the glove of
      our democratic institutions. Then as now, politicos and public
      intellectuals need and use each other. "DEMOCRACY" is about the
      seductions of power within a system that has lost its sense of shame
      and confuses personal ambition with public good.

      "With a sigh of despair Madeleine went on: `Who, then, is right?
      How can we all be right? Half of our wise men declare that the world
      is going straight to perdition; the other half that it is fast
      becoming perfect. Both cannot be right. There is only one thing in
      life,' she went on, laughing, `that I must and will have before I
      die. I must know whether America is right or wrong. Just now this
      question is a very practical one, for I really want to know whether
      to believe in Mr. Ratcliffe. If I throw him overboard, everything
      must go, for he is only a specimen.'"

      WHEN & WHERE:
      (at St. Paul Street), Chicago, two blocks south of the Western stop
      on the CTA Blue Line.

      HUGH IGLARSH has led previous OUL sessions on Melville, Conrad and
      the U.S. Constitution. He politely suggests that event attendees make
      an effort to read the novel, which is short, painless and available
      at libraries and used bookstores. If this is impossible, please come
      anyway and enjoy the discussion.

      HOW MUCH:
      $5 donation if you have it; no one turned away.

      E-mail OULChicago@... or call 773-384-5797 if you have a
      question or would like to lead an OUL session.

      The Open University of the Left (OUL) is an independent forum founded
      in 1987 to organize presentations and discussion groups about
      politics, literature, philosophy, history and social theory. Events
      are open to all regardless of political orientation.
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