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More filters. Sort order. I admit to being terribly under-read in Henry James. I've never been drawn by descriptions of his works; I've heard much praise of him, but what was praised did not engage me. He's been on my list of folks I "should" read, but not the list of those I feel the need to read. Then it sat in my office in school, where I read a couple of pages from time to time. Finally it ca I admit to being terribly under-read in Henry James.
Finally it came home, and I pressed through it seriously. My reaction is mixed. The writing is elegant, and some of the content is interesting. His aesthetic evaluations, when he is clear about them, can be quite engaging.
Essays in London and Elsewhere Henry James First Edition
There were a couple of surprises. But much of the work here is written for an audience that knows all about the subject discussed say, the works of Flaubert and so he refuses to be clear. He pile periphrastic description on periphrastic description, and it amounts to meaningless blather. He rarely cites specific instances, so even if you DO know what he's talking about, the result is still a bit vague.
His homage to London, the first essay, is nice, but he resorts to periphrasis here, as well. When he does name things, and discusses the "mood" of the City, it's interesting. An actress who had more impact outside the theater, she made a career of travelling the world, reading the plays of Shakespeare to public audiences. One-woman performances, without stagecraft, that brought Shakespeare to the people. Amusingly she went through them in order, and would not vary. And he nailed the future of Ibsen, who was a problematical figure even then.
James saw that Ibsen's under-writing of the characters gave actors a wide range of interpretation, and he predicted that theater people would love Ibsen far into the future, even if audiences were never large. The essay on the release of The Journal of the Brothers de Goncourt has a lot of edge, despite his resort to periphrasis. He felt that it debased their earlier work, and couldn't fathom why the surviving brother would publish; and the debate gives the essay traction.
The final piece, "An Animated Conversation," left me cold. It reads like a poorly done knock-off of an Oscar Wilde dialogue, and I'm sure much of its meaning was contained in the breezy tone, whose context is pretty much lost to us. A complete waste of time. I do wonder if, in its day, the readers could easily identify which speakers were American, and which British.
It was not clear to me, and I'm usually good at that. I'll finish with two positives. In the essay on the des Goncourts, he refers to the myth that in order for Literature to be good, it must confound the bourgeois, and he makes it clear that this is foolishness. First, I was surprised that the 20th century disease was already notable in the s, but second I was pleased to find him on the right side of the split. Second, a wonderful rhetorical passage from the Fanny Kemble essay: "The Alpine guides loved her — she knew them all, and those for whom her name offered difficulties identified her charmingly as "la dame qui va chantant par les montagnes.
Punctually on the first of June, every year, she went to Switzerland; punctually on the first of September she came back. During the interval she roamed as far and as high as she could ; for years she walked and climbed, and when she could no longer climb she rode. Create lists, bibliographies and reviews: or. Search WorldCat Find items in libraries near you. Advanced Search Find a Library. Your list has reached the maximum number of items.
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