The Dynamo and the Virgin

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Adams, Henry. "The Dynamo and the Virgin (1900)." Ch. XXV of The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography. Henry Cabot Lodge, ed. Boston: Houghton, 1918. Rpt. The Theme of the Machine, q.v.under Anthologies and Collections.

In the Gallery of Machines at the Great Exposition of 1900, HA begins a meditation on force—force expressed spiritually, sexually, physically. Asserts that "the nearest approach to the revolution of 1900 [the scientific and technological revolution] was that of 310, when Constantine set up the Cross" (Education 382-83). Implies that in the new world after 1900, esp. in America, "the symbol of infinity," or of greatest force, would be neither Venus nor Virgin, fecundity nor deity, but the dynamo (380, 383-85). See H. G. Wells, "Lord of the Dynamos," above, under Fiction.[1]


Significantly reprinted in the "Revolutions" issue of Lapham's Quarterly: 7.2 (Spring 2014), pp. 128-29.[2] The dynamo (and similar machines) as revolutionary in a sense that goes with sections on the French Revolution.

RDE, initial, and finishing 18Dec21