“The commonest axiom of history is that every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.” So wrote Lewis Mumford, a deity in fields ranging from urban studies to architectural and art criticism.
And that’s the epigraph at the front of Conversations with Papa Charlie: A Memory of Charles E. Smith, by his grandson David Bruce Smith, son of Crystal City developer Robert H. Smith.
For the forthcoming review of Conversations—I’ll probably post it today or over the weekend—I tracked down the start of The Brown Decades where Mumford’s words appeared. Did David pick up the epigram without knowing the contents of Mumford’s Chapter One? Or might the father-son witticism be itself part of a revolt, especially given one of the messages in the chapter? I’ll tell why I’m so curious.