Sunday, April 22, 2007

Epstein's Tocqueville

Just finishing Joseph Epstein's wonderful "Eminent Lives" bio of Alexis de Tocqueville. I awaited Epstein's "Aristides" column with eagerness each quarter when he was editor of The American Scholar. For such is why I read him with enthusiasm:

"A wise man once said that neither marriage nor bachelorhood was a fit solution. (Let us leave aside for now what, precisely, is the problem.) Certainly neither was a solution for a man as high-strung and imaginative as Tocqueville. His biographers tell a story about his wife's habit of eating so slowly that one day, unable to bide it any longer, he rose from his chair, took her plate of pâté, and dashed it to the floor. (She, without a change of expression, is said insouciantly to have ordered another.) (Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide, p. 66)

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