The Death of Adam Essays on Modern Thought

Marilynne Robinson




Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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"American culture is enriched by having the whole range of Marilynne Robinson's work," declared The Boston Globe. In this collection of essays, the bestselling author of Gilead offers other ways of thinking about history, religion, and society. Whether rescuing "Calvinism" and its creator Jean Calvin from the repressive puritan stereotype, or considering how the McGuffey readers were inspired by Midwestern abolitionists, or the divide between the Bible and Darwinism, Marilynne Robinson repeatedly sends her reader back to the primary texts that are central to the development of American culture but little read or acknowledged today.


Praise for The Death of Adam

"One of Robinson's great merits as an essayist is her refusal to take her opinions secondhand. Her book is a goad to renewed curiosity."—The New York Times Book Review

"American culture is enriched by having the whole range of Marilynne Robinson's work"—Jane Vanderburgh, The Boston Globe

"A valuable contribution to American life and letters."—Kathleen Norris

"A useful antidote to the increasingly crude and slogan-loving culture we inhabit."—Doris Lessing

"This is a grand, sweeping, blazing, brilliant, life-changing book."—Robert D. Richardson, Jr.

"Robinson's thinking is all in the service of humanity's survival, spiritually and environmentally."—Charles Baxter

"As with all good philosophical essays, these pieces do more than shape thinking. They're about life as it's lived now. Like the 19th-century reformers she so appreciates in 'McGuffey and the Abolitionists,' the author wants to engender good faith. When what passes for social criticism these days is issue-bound journalism, and when intellectual debate is largely confined to ivy halls, Robinson's laboriously researched, inclusively presented opinions are welcome. They serve scholarship well, enlarging the audience for dialogue on broad questions of how to live. Her dogged textual dissections (e.g., of Lord Acton and other critics of Calvin) illuminate her readings; her epigrammatic observations (e.g., 'spiritual agoraphobes') vividly capture our states of mind . . . This is a book written in hope."—Kirkus Reviews

"[Marilynne Robinson's] moral integrity is accompanied by an equally rigorous intellectual integrity, and rather than accepting received wisdom she hunts it out for herself among original texts. In the process, she revives founding beliefs as a possible solution for current ills."—Publishers Weekly



  • Marilynne Robinson

  • Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Gilead—winner of the Pulitzer Prize—Housekeeping, and Home and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

  • Marilynne Robinson Alec Soth / Magnum Photos
    Marilynne Robinson