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Like a Sponge Thrown into Water
Francis Lieber's European Travel Journal of 1844–1845

Edited by Charles R. Mack and Ilona S. Mack

Ten glorious months in Europe with one of the nineteenth century's greatest thinkers

"I live the life of a long dried sponge thrown into water," enthused the celebrated intellectual Francis Lieber (1798–1872) in a letter from Paris to his friend, the future Massachusetts senator, Charles Sumner. In that letter, Lieber, a scholar well known on both sides of the Atlantic, described his joyous return to Europe in 1844 after two decades teaching and working in the United States. During his ten-month sabbatical, Lieber gloried in Europe's people, places, art, theater, and diversity. With passionate attention to detail, he not only wrote letters to his friends but also chronicled his travels in a diary. Lieber's previously unpublished account of these months, including passages translated from their original German, offers a fast-paced and exciting picture of the European culture and political milieu of the 1840s. The diary provides insights into the remarkable person who kept it.

The United States' first political scientist, the German-born Lieber was the founder of the Encyclopedia Americana, wrote the Civil War-era code of military conduct that has become the basis for modern war crimes trials, and published works of continued significance in the fields of penology and political philosophy while on the faculties at South Carolina College(the University of South Carolina) and Columbia University. Before immigrating to the United States, he fought against Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo and was forced to flee Prussia for espousing liberal political ideals.

When he returned to Europe in 1844, Lieber's fame preceeded him. In his journal he records meetings with such important individuals as the Duke of Wellington, Alexis de Tocqueville, Alexander von Humboldt, and King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. Included is a poignant letter from the future author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe. Lieber's entries also reveal his connoiseur's eye for the appreciation of art, music, and the theater, as well as his abiding interest in judicial penal reform and belief in the concept of nationhood.

Editors Charles R. Mack and Ilona Mack present Lieber's journal complete with extensive contextual commentary, appendices, and an introduction to Lieber's adventurous life and lasting contributions.

Charles R. Mack teaches art history at the University of South Carolina, where he is both a Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts and the William Joseph Todd Professor of the Italian Renaissance. Coeditor of The Roman Remains: John Izard Middleton's Visual Souvenirs of 1820–1823, he is the author of Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City and Paper Pleasures: Five Centuries of Drawings and Watercolors.

Ilona S. Mack, like Francis Lieber, is a native of Berlin, Germany. She has collaborated with her husband on several published articles and museum exhibitions dealing with the Bunzlauer pottery tradition of eastern Germany and with the history of European decorated enamelwares. The Macks live in Columbia, South Carolina.

"This delightful volume provides more insight into the private mind of Francis Lieber than all of the previously published texts of Lieber's works together. The Macks have done a great job of faithfully transcribing Lieber's manuscript and of gathering substantial support material of interest to Lieber scholars and history buffs alike." —John Catalano, Dean, University of South Carolina Lancaster



book jacket for Like a Sponge Thrown into Water


6 X 9
224 pageS
10 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-447-3
cloth, $24.95t


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