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Review: To be an American is, as Henry James famously observed, a "complex fate." But complexity was that rococo master's stock-in-trade, which may explain why he returned to his native country in 1904 after an absence of more than 20 years. To be sure, he was interested in a Jamesian walk down memory lane, with its full quota of meditative hairsplitting. Yet he also meant to take advantage of his hybrid status as a Europeanized American. "I made no scruple," James explains in his introduction, "of my conviction that I should understand and should care better and more than the most earnest of visitors, and yet that I should vibrate with more curiosity ... than the pilgrim with the longest list of questions." Vibrate he did, in the ornate and extraordinary periods of his late phase, and the result was a one-of-a-kind travel book, The American Scene.
James opens his book with an impressionistic overture, which can be slightly off-putting: he seems too intent on leaping beyond the dry donnée of American life into pure abstraction. But readers shouldn't be discouraged. Even in the opening pages the author manages some brilliant snapshots, like this description of New Hampshire's Saco River: "The rich, full lapse of the river, the perfect brownness, clear and deep, as of liquid agate, in its wide swirl, the large indifferent ease in its pace and motion, as of some great benevolent institution smoothly working; all this, with the sense of the deepening autumn about, gave I scarce know what pastoral nobleness to the scene, something raising it out of the reach of even the most restless of analysts." And once James begins his journey proper up and down the Eastern seaboard, he delivers one amazing page after another. He doesn't, of course, care for everything he sees--the skyscrapers of Manhattan strike him as vertical monstrosities, and he lets loose with more than one politically incorrect shaft at the minority population.
What appalls him the most, though, is the Almighty Dollar, which he perceives as "the preliminary American postulate," the very bedrock of New World life: "This basis is that of active pecuniary gain and of active pecuniary gain only--that of one's making the conditions so triumphantly pay that the prices, the manners, the other inconveniences, take their place as a friction it is comparatively easy to salve, wounds directly treatable with the wash of gold." Some will argue that the fussbudget author had spent too much time in England, where money remained a dirty word until after the Second World War. Others may find his diagnosis eerily prescient. In any case, The American Scene remains required reading for anybody interested in U.S. history, Henry James, or the incredible evolution of the compound sentence. --James Marcus
Titel: The American Scene
Verlag: Indiana University Press
Zustand: very good
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press. Hardcover. Buchzustand: Fair. Buchnummer des Verkäufers G0253102308I5N00
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Buchzustand: Fair. Former Library book. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Buchnummer des Verkäufers GRP85910222
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Buchzustand: Good. 1968 Hardcover . xxiv, 486 p. Former Library book. Bibliographical references included in "Notes" (p. -479) Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Buchnummer des Verkäufers GRP62470879
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Buchzustand: Good. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Buchnummer des Verkäufers GRP95728180
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Buchzustand: Very Good. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Buchnummer des Verkäufers GRP96349565
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, 1968. Hardcover. Buchzustand: Used: Good. Buchnummer des Verkäufers SONG0253102308
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, 1968. Hardcover. Buchzustand: Very Good. Great condition with minimal wear, aging, or shelf wear. Buchnummer des Verkäufers P020253102308
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, 1968. Hardcover. Buchzustand: New. Never used!. Buchnummer des Verkäufers P110253102308
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, 2009. Hardcover. Buchzustand: Good. n. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 0253102308
Buchbeschreibung Indiana University Press, 1968. Hardcover. Buchzustand: New. book. Buchnummer des Verkäufers M0253102308