Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cosmopolitan Tocqueville

...Tocque­ville’s responses to America were more perceptive and appreciative than those of other European travelers, like Frances Trollope and Charles Dickens. These visitors made pungent, informational comments about America but showed a provincialism that Tocqueville rose above. The fastidious Trollope portrayed America as a nation of boorish tobacco-chewers, bellowing revivalists and swaggerers. Dickens complained about the grunting pigs and screaming newsboys on the streets of Manhattan. For Tocqueville, such excesses were part of the liveliness and brashness of an ever-changing democratic society.
Tocqueville: The Life, by David S. Reynolds, The New York Times, review of 'Tocqueville's Discovery of America', by Leo Damrosch

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