This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to combine a study of context with an internal reading. Rather than offering a commentary on Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, it attempts an interpretation based on signs, indices, and even stylistic turns of an author who revealed himself even as he attempted to draw a veil over his own views, and who can also be heard speaking in a different register in his correspondence and manuscripts as well as in the accounts of his contemporaries. To sharpen the intellectual portrait of Tocqueville the man, we need to identify the various levels of meaning contained in the text and the various audiences to which it was addressed.
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