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The amazing uneducated/self-educated Abraham Lincoln!
06-13-2013, 05:39 PM
Post: #43
RE: The amazing uneducated/self-educated Abraham Lincoln!
(06-13-2013 08:32 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Laurie, there are so many other witnesses who said Lincoln was able to quote Shakespeare off the top of his head that I -whatever Herndon said- would believe he read Shakespeare more acute than just superficially. I like the quote from Hamlet Lincoln alledgedly liked best: "There's a divinity that shapes our ends. Rough-hew them how we will!" (Act 5; scene 2)

I agree! Billy Herndon may have been very knowledgeable about his law partner, but I often think that he "couldn't see the forest for the trees"! I am skeptical of any representation that Lincoln read only superficially. It may be that Lincoln absorbed knowledge more quickly than Billy did; Billy was very intelligent, but Lincoln was a genius.

On the other hand, Billy also said, "Lincoln read less, and thought more, than any other man." Here, he seems to be saying that Lincoln read what he read very deeply. But I'm skeptical, again, of how limited Lincoln's reading actually was. He most certainly spent more time reading political news than literature, but he had to do that - it was his lifeblood!

Also, I've read (I think I came across this in Robert Bray's book, Reading with Lincoln, as well as from a primary source) that, as president, Lincoln enjoyed engaging in in-depth analyses of the literature he read - in particular, Shakespeare. I'm pretty sure that the people who remembered him doing this described him as acting like a professor when he reflected on his favorite literature. This is more evidence that he read deeply, not superficially.

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RE: The amazing uneducated/self-educated Abraham Lincoln! - Liz Rosenthal - 06-13-2013 05:39 PM

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