Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kevin J. Hayes' "The Road to Monticello"

Kevin J. Hayes is Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma and the author of A Colonial Woman's Bookshelf, An American Cycling Odyssey, Melville's Folk Roots, and Poe and the Printed Word.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, and reported the following:
In The Road to Monticello, page 99 occurs partway through Chapter 7, “A Shelf of Notebooks,” in which I discuss the various notebooks Jefferson kept during his early adult life. An illustration of his ivory table books takes up half of page 99. A table book consists of several thin strips of ivory fastened together that could be written on and later erased. Jefferson typically carried one with him and used it to record his expenses. He would later transfer these records into his memorandum books. He recorded lengthier texts in his memorandum books as well, including a description of the Natural Bridge and Chief Logan’s speech. Page 99 briefly mentions both. Later, Jefferson would describe the Natural Bridge at length in Notes on the State of Virginia and recommend that all Virginian visitors see it. For Jefferson, the Natural Bridge became a symbol of Virginia’s natural beauty. Logan’s speech, too, formed a symbol of the inherent potential of North America. Jefferson would publish it in Notes on the State of Virginia, and defend it when his political enemies accused him of fabricating the speech. Introducing the Natural Bridge and Chief Logan’s speech, page 99 presents topics that resonate throughout The Road to Monticello.
Learn more about The Road to Monticello at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue