Critical Companion to Henry James: A Literary Reference to by Eric L Haralson

By Eric L Haralson

Severe better half to Henry James covers the existence and works of Henry James in addition to the similar humans, locations, and subject matters that formed his writing. different positive factors during this new identify comprise a chronology of James's existence, bibliographies of his works and of secondary resources, and black-and-white pictures and illustrations, delivering crucial history for the research of this literary grasp.

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It is difficult, but this difficulty is deliberate and reflects James’s sense of the difficulty of perceiving reality itself. In his late novels, James attempts to recreate the process of experience, with all its halts, hitches, and contradictions, through the very language that he uses. Many studies of The Ambassadors, both old and new, point out that the language of the novel is intrinsically bound to its theme of perception. For example, Ian Watt’s classic analysis of the opening paragraph of the novel explores how both the desire to correlate reality to abstract ideas and the contradictory, roundabout process of acquiring knowledge are dramatized through the reading experience of the first few sentences of the book.

Strether asserts that he is ready to go home and that Chad probably is too. Madame de Vionnet is sure that if Chad goes home his mother will want to marry him off. Strether pledges to help Madame de Vionnet and Chad the best he can. (Chapter 2) Three days later, Strether receives a telegram from Mrs. Newsome. After a strained, silent dinner with Waymarsh, Strether writes a long reply home, only to tear it up later the same night. Early the next morning, Chad calls at Strether’s hotel and declares that he is ready to sail.

Maria Gostrey, Gloriani, and Strether also wear “aids to vision” as James often calls them. James himself started wearing glasses for reading in the late 1890s, and his own deteriorating eyesight is probably one of the causes of his growing fascination with vision in his later novels. In The Ambassadors, however, these apparently trivial accessories appear to be carefully coded; Miss Barrace and Gloriani wear convex lenses for long-sightedness, as did James himself, while the Americans, Strether and Maria Gostrey, wear concave lenses for the shortsighted (Hutchison 87).

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