Study Guide

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America - Part 2, Chapter 6 Brazil, Section 3 Summary & Analysis

Louis Menand
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Part 2, Chapter 6 Brazil, Section 3 Summary

At the beginning of the expedition, James was more interested in Agassiz than in anything else. He liked the intelligence of Agassiz and found it hard to dislike him. However, within a week his view of Agassiz had changed. He wrote to his sister and told her that Agassiz was "a politician and so self-seeking and illiberal to others that it sadly diminishes one's respect for him." Before the end of the expedition, James would change his mind several more times.

For James, the Brazil expedition was his Civil War. He was told to make barrels and collect fish and alligator eggs to take back to Harvard. He found everything exciting for the first few days, but then monotony took over, as did boredom. He even contracted a form of smallpox that put him in bed over...

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