The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

Marilynne Robinson

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The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

The Death of Adam Essays on Modern Thought In this award winning collection the bestselling author of Gilead offers us other ways of thinking about history religion and society Whether rescuing Calvinism and its creator Jean Cauvin from the

  • Title: The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
  • Author: Marilynne Robinson
  • ISBN: 9780312425326
  • Page: 251
  • Format: Paperback
  • In this award winning collection, the bestselling author of Gilead offers us other ways of thinking about history, religion, and society Whether rescuing Calvinism and its creator Jean Cauvin from the repressive puritan stereotype, or considering how the McGuffey readers were inspired by Midwestern abolitionists, or the divide between the Bible and Darwinism, MarilynnIn this award winning collection, the bestselling author of Gilead offers us other ways of thinking about history, religion, and society Whether rescuing Calvinism and its creator Jean Cauvin from the repressive puritan stereotype, or considering how the McGuffey readers were inspired by Midwestern abolitionists, or the divide between the Bible and Darwinism, Marilynne Robinson repeatedly sends her reader back to the primary texts that are central to the development of American culture but little read or acknowledged today.A passionate and provocative celebration of ideas, the old arts of civilization, and life s mystery, The Death of Adam is, in the words of Robert D Richardson, Jr a grand, sweeping, blazing, brilliant, life changing book.

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    One thought on “The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

    1. Adam on said:

      A dissenter's point of view of the modern world, and the uncriticized assumptions and biases that it possesses. Robinson's flawless prose doesn't hurt either. Plus, her basic methodology is this:1) I am a relatively intelligent person,2) I consider myself capable of reading and understanding those thinkers and authors who have shaped the world3) rather than reading the partisans who either deify or malign those thinkers, why don't I read them myself, and decide for myself what to think about the [...]

    2. Lobstergirl on said:

      I hadn't read any of Robinson's well-regarded novels or essays when I came across this collection by accident, misshelved at the library, just a New Yorker review that mentioned she was serious about religion. She is, very (although she calls herself a pagan too). What she is undoubtedly is a scholar. She reads texts closely, and she unhesitatingly criticizes those who haven't bothered to (including Lord Acton, Max Weber, Simon Schama, and Daniel Dennett, all faulted for their misreadings of Joh [...]

    3. Tara on said:

      Oh, Marilynne. You made me want to read John Calvin. I only recently decided to read Augustine instead of judging him after reading other people talk about him, and now you've made me want to read Calvin. Marilynne Robinson has one of the fairest, wisest minds I've ever encountered. When she makes a judgment I trust it, and that doesn't happen all too often. The lady read Marx and Calvin and everyone else. She read the source material. Our culture is throwing away the past with abandon, judging [...]

    4. Sara on said:

      This was a beautiful book. Marilynne Robinson uses such beautiful language to express herself. I was amazed by these essays. She has a talent for expressing in poetic words ideas that I feel deep down inside but have no idea how to formulate or write down or even explain to others.This book is a series of essays written at different times, many of them with a theological theme. In this book, she explored the life and writings of John Calvin (which she actually read, contrary to almost everyone - [...]

    5. Jacob on said:

      Marilynne Robinson is SERIOUS about ideas and Christianity and primary texts and the prevailing emptiness of American culture at present and the lightweightness of most semi-intellectuals. I love all this rigor.And yet sometimes she seems deliberately difficult. Demanding to the point of obscurity.

    6. Joseph Kugelmass on said:

      If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times -- nobody reads good essays about contemporary Calvinism anymore!

    7. Joseph Pensak on said:

      A defense of John Calvin from the halls of the UIowa Creative Writing Department? The sky is falling.

    8. Bryan on said:

      There is a measure of success for a single author collection of essays that is subtly different from simply averaging the overall quality of its compositions; an aspect over and above the intent behind the writing that pushes it beyond mere academic effort. It is difficult to define this quality - but the cumulative effect is similar to the sense of 'humanness' I might perceive from someone after a long conversation. There are moments when the conversation's subject fades into the background, an [...]

    9. Bronson on said:

      I chose to give this book 3 stars because I am only comparing it to her novels and I enjoyed those more. This was an interesting work and for me it was worthwhile because of one essay, Psalm 8 and that boiled down to one paragraph. There aren't many paragraphs that I would consider merit reading 263 pages just to be able to experience one thought, but for me this is one of those. I'll quote it here and hope that Marilynne Robinson isn't offended that I cite the whole paragraph. See what you thin [...]

    10. Megan on said:

      Marilynne Robinson is a gift. The common thread through all of these diverse essays (ranging in topic from Darwinism to Maguerite de Navarre with many nods to John Calvin) is her loyalty to them. Its rare for a writer to so fully know their own mind and speak about what is important to her with such authority. She knows her subjects well and she knows the biases that the reader (me) carries with them. After reading this book I felt like I had met many historical figures for the first time. Becau [...]

    11. Nathan Marone on said:

      Though she doesn't touch on it in every essay in this collection, Robinson's main thesis in The Death of Adam is that people make a lot of assumptions about history and historical figures without ever consulting the source material at all. The crime, it seems, is perpetuated by the layperson and scholar alike, with Robinson herself being a (lone?) exception to the horrific reality of historical ignorance. While what she says is true (how many people blame Calvin and Calvinism for all sorts of ev [...]

    12. Jessica on said:

      I found this today at the thrift store, and instantly started weeping into a slightly chipped Flushing Fairgrounds commemorative mug. Reading this will be my reward if I somehow manage to produce two papers by Wednesday.I looooooove you Marilynne Robinson! I can't wait to find out what it is that you have to say.Booksters will have to wait breathlessly and see if I emerge at the other end a confirmed Calvinist.

    13. Bob on said:

      Summary: A collection of eleven essays taking modern intellectual life to task for its cynicism toward its intellectual antecedents.Anyone who has read Marilynne Robinson’s fiction discovers a view of life framed in older, theological modes of thought that trace back to the Reformation and beyond. Her appreciation for that framework is evident in this collection of essays that takes modern intellectual life to task for its cynicism toward, and often uninformed rejection of these older modes of [...]

    14. Kyle Minton on said:

      In the midst of reading 100% non-fiction in 2017, I decided to read Marilynne Robinson’s the Death of Adam after Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation. The idea was simple enough; read a book that supposes there is no place for religion in the modern world and then read a book that supposes there is! This is constantly a stance I wobble back and forth on and I was seeking opposing views. The Death of Adam was a foolish book choice for this purpose, but on the other hand, I don’t believ [...]

    15. Tim on said:

      A sharp collection of essays. The introduction calls them contrarian and they are. Robinson never bows to consensus, is never cowardly in her choice of topics. If those choices do not always seem timely (especially the focus on Calvin), they certainly engaged me. Aside from Calvin she also addresses the Puritans (a favorite topic of mine - her discussion of modern priggishness as opposed to the Puritan vision of life is a delight), the loss of the humanities, and the modern rule of economics (fr [...]

    16. Douglas on said:

      First of all, this is probably an objectively 5 star book but due to a few slogs through one or two of her essays, I personally am saying 4 I really enjoyed it, so many great thoughts captured, I'll include a few in this review. One other criticism I had was her complete lack of criticism or objectivity at looking at her religious and theological upbringing and current process. She critiques everything else but doesn't show anything close to a critique and there were a few things that I felt wer [...]

    17. Jane on said:

      It is a tribute to how compelling Marilynne Robinson is that when I finished this book, moved and discomposed, one of my first thoughts was that I could now turn to her novel Home. Robinson says so much that rings true in these essays that it is a little frustrating that they aren’t more formal. Convinced by many of her arguments, I cannot cite them for any proposition because they are, at times, meandering or disjointed. As its title suggests, this is a book that is about human exceptionalism [...]

    18. Mark Knuth on said:

      I read this because I admire Marilynne Robinson's novels and her intellect. None of her writing is light, and these essays were a pretty tough slog. That's why I just read one or two at a time, between lighter books. Robinson is unabashedly critical of several undercurrents she detects in modern thought and culture. Her criticism is unconventional, often unexpected, and hard to dismiss even when that's your first impulse. As she acknowledges in the introduction, these essays are, "all of them, c [...]

    19. Moses Operandi on said:

      This book is a true pleasure to read, mostly because Robinson is so erudite about her chosen subjects, and communicates her learning so gracefully. In her extended discourses on John Calvin, for example, she argues both that American culture grew up under Calvin's influence, but also that he is wrongfully ignored by modern scholars. To prove that claim, which she does to my satisfaction, she needs not only a deep familiarity with American culture and history, but also an almost encyclopedic know [...]

    20. John on said:

      This collection of Robinson's essays covers a wide-ranging variety of topics. Science, history, religion, the environment, and ethics form the bulk of her interest, many of these issues crossing into essays ostensibly on other topics. This cross-pollination ends up being quite productive, leading to helpful and at times provocative insights.The standout essays for me were "Darwinism," "Facing Reality," "Puritans and Prigs," and "Wilderness." Robinson's excoriation of Darwinist thinking offers a [...]

    21. Andrew on said:

      Another set of generally excellent essays, Robinson's first collection, I think, gathered from the 1980s and early-mid 90s. The pair on "Marguerite de Navarre" (and on Calvin, too), and the meditation on (among other things) "Psalm 8" are standouts in my estimation. It is a very good thing that when I actually get to read Calvin, one of these days soon, I hope, I will have met with Robinson's so-forceful reclamation of his thought and influence.

    22. LaRae on said:

      I sampled several essays from this collection, but did not read all of them. Those I read, I thoroughly enjoyed. They are thought provoking and, at times, challenging to wade through. She is such a deep thinker, and such a master of words, that even difficult concepts seem to flow easily across the page.

    23. Anna on said:

      The collection is beautiful, stirring. Best non-fiction I've read in recent memory. Thanks to dear friends for recommending it and for articulating why. I was inspired to more diligently recover the past, rethink thinking, and reassert the depth of Christianity.

    24. Tom on said:

      A rigorous but accessible thinker. Writes about religious themes without maudlin piety, though a devoted Christian herself. "Psalm Eight" is good example. Much different from her fiction, surprisingly so.

    25. Mary on said:

      The best defense--the only defense of Calvinist thought I've ever read. Robinson's lovely long sentences wind you around a thought and drop you easily on the other side. I'd love to talk with someone about her faith-based arguments.

    26. Simona on said:

      So far brilliant, but I am forced to read it slowly, in order to fully process the connections she draws between things like Calvinism, the act of writing, social darwinism, science, faith etc. Incredibly insightful. She is one of my favorite contemporary writers.

    27. Ann Michael on said:

      Wonderfully argued in the most elegant and reasonable fashion. One so seldom reads good logical arguments these days, and written so deftlyI've read Psalm Eight and Wilderness twice already. beautiful.

    28. Corey on said:

      Dense, and sometimes as dry as a bone, but worth reading for the sterling essays on Darwinism, John Calvin, and the Puritans.

    29. Tyler Hurst on said:

      A set of phenomenal essays on the modern way of thinking. I think this book blows up and exposes many of the short-comings in contemporary thought.

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