Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and by Adam Gopnik

By Adam Gopnik

On a memorable day in human background, February 12, 1809, infants have been born an ocean aside: Abraham Lincoln in a one-room Kentucky log cabin; Charles Darwin on an English state property. It used to be a time of backward-seeming notions, while nearly each person nonetheless permitted the biblical account of production because the literal fact and authoritarianism because the such a lot average and possible social order. yet by the point either males died, the area had replaced: usual humans understood that lifestyles in the world was once a narrative of constant evolution, and the Civil struggle had proved democracy may perhaps struggle for ideas and suffer. And with those sign insights a lot else had replaced in addition to. jointly, Darwin and Lincoln had develop into midwives to the spirit of a brand new international, a brand new form of desire and faith.

Searching for the lads in the back of the icons of emancipation and evolution, Adam Gopnik indicates us, during this alluring double existence, Lincoln and Darwin as they truly have been: kinfolk males and social climbers; bold manipulators and brave adventurers; the dwelling husband, father, son, and scholar at the back of every one fantasy. How can we reconcile Lincoln, the supremely solid guy we all know, with the hardened commander who wittingly despatched tens of hundreds of thousands of younger infantrymen to sure loss of life? Why did the relentlessly rational Darwin hold up publishing his “Great Idea” for nearly 20 years? How did inconsolable grief on the lack of a loved baby switch every one guy? And what convenience may both find—for himself or for a society now possessed of a sadder, if wiser, knowing of our lifestyles? Such human questions and their solutions are the stuff of this book.

Above all, we see Lincoln and Darwin as thinkers and writers—as makers and witnesses of the nice swap in concept that marks actually glossy instances: 100 years after the Enlightenment, the previous rule of religion and worry ultimately yielding to at least one of cause, argument, and statement no longer basically as highbrow beliefs yet as a life-style; the judgment of divinity eventually filing to the verdicts of background and time. Lincoln contemplating human historical past, Darwin reflecting on deep time—both reshaped our figuring out of what lifestyles is and the way it attains that means. and so they invented a brand new language to precise that figuring out. Angels and Ages is an unique and private account of the construction of the liberal voice—of the way in which we are living now and how we speak at domestic and in public. exhibiting that literary eloquence is key to liberal civilization, Adam Gopnik finds why our heroes might be possessed by means of the urgency of utterance, obsessed via the necessity to see for themselves, and endowed with the present to talk for us all.

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Extra resources for Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life

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Felix Mendelssohn (b. Feb. 3, 1809, Hamburg [Germany]—d. Nov. 4, 1847, Leipzig) Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy—or Felix J akob Mendelssohn—was a German composer, pianist, musical conductor, and teacher who was among the most celebrated figures of the early Romantic period. In his music Mendelssohn largely observed Classical models and practices while initiating key aspects of Romanticism— the artistic movement that exalted feeling and the imagination above rigid forms and traditions. Among his most famous works are Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826), Italian Symphony (1833), a violin concerto (1844), two piano concerti (1831, 1837), the oratorio Elijah (1846), and several pieces of chamber music.

Just a few months later, Mozart was appointed an honorary Konzertmeister at the Salzburg court. The Italian Tours Mastery of the Italian operatic style was a prerequisite for a successful international composing career, and Mozart accordingly visited Italy with his father. Their first tour, begun on Dec. 13, 1769, took them to all the main musical centres. In mid-October 1770 he reached Milan and began work on the new opera, Mitridate, rè di Ponto (“Mithradates, King of Pontus”), the premiere of which, on December 26, was a notable success.

44 (“Mourning Symphony”) and the “Farewell” Symphony, No. 45. Haydn’s operatic output continued to be strong until 1785, but his audience increasingly lay outside his employer’s court. In 1775 he composed his first large-scale oratorio, Il ritorno di Tobia, for the Musicians’ Society in Vienna, and the Viennese firm Artaria published his six Opus 33 quartets in the 1780s. These important quartets quickly set a new standard for the genre. In the mid-1780s a commission came from Paris to compose a set of symphonies.

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