I was trying to explain to my non-American husband the other day why we should go to Monticello this summer. It’s incredibly unique and fascinating, I said, but I was met with a blank stare. I faltered and whimpered, “Well I was there when I was a kid and…and…it was cool. He invented a lot of cool stuff, penned the Declaration of Independence, was a red-headed president, and his home’s on the back of a nickel and…”
He’s been unconvinced until now, but today I spied Maira Kalman’s post on her illustrated blog, “And the Pursuit of Happiness,” on www.nytimes.com.
Kalman’s spirited post, “Time Wastes Too Fast,” brims with biographical info about Jefferson presented in playful white script, whimsical illustrations of Monticello interiors, and photos of its stately façade.
Kalman, an American illustrator, author, artist, and designer, explores the conflicting nature of Jefferson; a slave owner who called slavery an abomination. She touches on his alleged relationship with Sally Hemmings and mentions the ongoing archaeological work at Monticello.
She asserts that to understand the U.S. you must go to Monticello to see “its people and what it means to be optimistic and complex and tragic and wrong and courageous…” Reason enough for my husband; plans are finally underway.
Read more about visiting Monticello the July/August issue of Traveler.
What places have you visited that have helped you better your understanding of a nation and its people on a philosophical level?
Image: Maira Kalman for the New York Times
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