As others read us: American fiction abroad; Henry James, part one
This is the second of a series of programs untitled as others read us American fiction abroad produced and recorded by the Literary Society of the University of Massachusetts under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The subject of this hour's discussion is the foreign reputation of Henry James. Here with us to discuss the impact of James writings on Europe are Mr. W.H. Auden and Mr. Richard P. Blackmore the moderator of the discussion will be Mr. Stanley Koehler of the University of Massachusetts English department mystical art. Mr Richard P. Blackmore has been a member of the English department of Princeton for 15 years and has written a series of critical works including the double agent and the lion of the honeycomb. Since editing the preface to James novels in 134 Mr. Blackburn has continued to write on James with subtlety and style worthy of James himself.
I think it would have pleased James it was something of a poet at heart that both of his critics on this occasion should be toilets as well. It is hardly necessary to introduce W. H in his role as a poet since he is one of the foremost poets writing in English as a critic. He is the author of The End Shaffer and flood and has expressed himself on James both in prose and verse. Mr. Orden can speak from personal experience on the European view of James's works particularly in England in the last year of his life. James said in a letter to his nephew that he had spent in England all the best years of his life. They have practically been my lot. A month later he became a British subject. Whether or not James must be regarded as an expatriate author on this basis may be left for our critics to discuss at least he makes a
decided contrast with between us. Both men saw the effects of the Industrial Revolution on America following the Civil War but Twain in his best work accepted that era or escaped into the days of his youth on the Mississippi. While James turned in the other direction to another culture in choosing Europe as the setting both for his life and for the major part of his writing. James established in effect a new kind of fiction. In the novel of international theme and setting. We will be interested to hear what Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Mr. Arden may tell us of the European reaction to two of James's novels of this type. The Americans and the ambassador arms. Mr. Blackmar at what stage did James make his first real impact on Europe. I said author. I think the answer to your question will depend considerably upon whether
you mean Europe as a continent or whether you wish to include them with it. Remember that James was a practicing author in London. Perhaps even more so than he was in New York or as far as European impact was consigned. It doesn't seem to me to have the Congress plane until sometime between the two world wars or even possibly after the Second World War as a popular phenomenon as something that might almost be part of a literary news or social knows something like that. It had one remembers different impacts at home. Whether you call home whether you call call home America makes very little difference. I may have been some differences between the number of his books that were read and London and those which were read in the ark at a given time from 7 days I'm told. Well until the first world war that same letter would roughly go
along pretty much together and James had the great good luck as a young man perhaps to get him going. A very high degree of popularity for some years. Assuming that he was not a popular novelist in the sense that that Dickens was or in the sense the child read was or something of that kind. Yes right well I did look fell off that it rose slightly and then it fell off again. I went into a kind of pop to the Klein but he never went into the critical decline. His work was always considered as in one way or another respectable or in one way or another vital at pretty much the whole period from the time his first book was published until our own time. But one must take these things a little differently in the different countries. And since we have to some extent a special interest in the impact on Europe I suppose we're talking about the continent there. I would pretty much insist that there was no
very general impacts until. Very well along towards a second world war. Yes a good indication of that would be this is a man like Andre street who prided himself very much on the latest things marked industries which made comments in his first comments I think on James art in the late 20s. Here was a man who would be the first to hear about anything and if if he hadn't had it before and we quite sharp now to cringe when hearing one might make a small comment that she'd love himself while the things that we often call games. An expatriate although he always lived in France. Nevertheless his soul was an expatriate solo and I sometimes wonder whether that might not be a better way of approaching the idea of expatriation and James himself. Yes well as people normally use it for use it was nonsense to say that James the expatriate that say he said Never try to
become identified with English culture all with French culture. He always knew that he was an American and there was a particular problem for him is maybe there are often these for a number of Americans that we have in Europe. If you there's a key sentence for me and then added to his looking glass we have the queen Queen says to add his snout. Say the French word for think when you can't think of the English void and how tears are to walk. And remember who you are for the key Web desk remember. Now it will be very difficult for James or perhaps for any American to start by saying a James doesn't do that what you mean by remembering who you are to stop with the family of General Tom. Then after that you start find out who in my particular might be James. Now enter James had to begin from pant because he tried to it was rock climbing he wasn't
settled in anyone face and have this international kind of operate I think went on to insist on that a little bit. After all his father had deliberately given him the kind of education which we would nowadays call best calculated and the commander isolated isolated lost and ruined. That is he was brought up in a half dozen countries with a half dozen languages which we perhaps nowadays call expatriation. Perhaps we might have called it a very vivid experiment in progressive education as of the 1850s. Do you think this is had any effect on his popularity either at home or abroad this so-called expatriation. I wouldn't say on his popularity but I very clearly no matter which way you take it has something to do with the nature of what he wrote. I think we'll see that in the two novels that we're talking about this evening the American and the ambassadors. Most of which have to do dramatically with a matter
of a man going abroad and the impact on him of Europe or his impact upon certain Europeans on them take it one way or the other as one's taste goes. How do you feel that there is in the American which you are about to discuss them to see a partial dramatization not any. James fellow countryman. Koester is a dozen. Every novelist who is attempting to deal with felt mar a life for what James said that he was dealing with. Bond will bend himself to criticism isn't criticism in this sense this is a novel not without talking about literary criticism isn't criticism in the sense the perception of the kinds of crises that come in men's lives and their judgment of them because after all who ever really read a novel when they read it and say oh he's criticizing this particular kind of car charming you read a novel you see is you can't have
interesting so I think this is true to life. You're going to ask is this gag here. I don't make a noise if it means most of the French don't seem to have a curious we have heat novels we have it. And yet in the dramatization which James made from his novel 14 years later he seems to have broadened the caricature in this respect. Well then I think it's simply a matter of that if you have people on the stage. The audience was never never be in doubt about where people come from. You have to immediately comprehend as one thinks a gravitas can deliberately conceal something and then they die of surprise. That's what that's now. That's one problem which is if a person is to be an American they must come on the stage from the first moment with an X if you don't feel of the fact that Christopher Newman in the play version seems less sympathetic implies less sympathy and you find him less sympathetic or just brought up. Do you think this was meant to remake any kind of appeal to the English audience. No no I think it's a matter of the
difference between a medium which you read. So I would say I am a medium which has to make its impact immediately like drama it's all going to be a real changing change the attitude over the years since you first wrote the novel. I can imagine Aristotle making the same observation of Mr. Alden as I was taught also believed in preparations as Mr. James did and as Mr. knows is James or says prepare prepare prepare. Repeat repeat repeat it on the stage. One must say that it is going to be said or done it is being said and done and that it has been said and done the normal and all that has been done well the American was a part of the sayings that he wished to have done and said. Because it came out of his natural subject matter of the US the fullness of his own life. He had nothing else upon which he could depend on so thoroughly. And perhaps he was therefore sometimes more critical in the sense that I understand at a meeting of American thinkers innocent solutions. Perhaps he felt more nearly
in a family quarrel. There was a big uproar. Does this criticism show up in his treatment of Newman. Well actually in this particular I know Europeans I mean the American he seems to me that Europeans that wants to come with a start as opposed to the ambassadors where which we share here late here where. The Americans come out badly. You don't want to be anybody's backwards and forwards going to create particular situations. You seem to be thinking of the Europeans Mr. Rodham was there something but none are armed I just got the name because he did write a book about your people. But the separate justifiably together was a pot it was not a hostile game same you know I guess of love. Let's remember tell us very much like think accent for the American on the stage Mr. Rodman speaking of so to you have to have a good part of your subject conventionalized to begin with. And what's with the convention wasn't available to the novelist coming from of America living in England with an Italian and a French experience and the time just after the Civil War than this new man little man was the
hero of the Americans that no. Human being was a British man. Yes but you know he makes him a little awkward he never gives him the really brilliant clip to make but it gives him a kind of an honesty. He makes in the lives of say the same naive. But if he is naive that is where the high value out of all that is. As one says of a man that he is as naive like a saint and I like a child. Well Newman is perhaps partly between possibility we might think the struggle is a little on the output side and one might have left out. We are now to hear Newman in action in a brief dramatization from the American not the play but the novel which James had written some 14 years earlier. In this particular scene Newman appears as throughout as the American man of business who gives up his very successful enterprises in the new world to see what Europe may have to offer
to an American what Europe offers to his higher nature is personified in its ideal form. In my dom to songs for a widow whose own family the bell guards trace their origins back over a thousand years to Charlemagne having won the hand of this rare creature Newman is not to be informed that she must out of respect to the wishes of her family given up in the scene that follows Newman confronts that family in the person his fiance that was my down to see on some train her mother the formidable marquees develop guard and her brother the Marquis. From chapter 18 of Henry James's The American in the middle of the room stood under Sandra dressed for travelling behind her before the fireplace stood the marquee develop the Marquis sat his mother buried in an armchair fixing her eyes on the invader as he felt them
pronouncing he knew himself in the presence of something evil. He walked straight to not under center and seized her by the hand. What's the matter. What's happening. Something very grave has happened. I can't marry you. Why not. You must ask my mother. You must ask my brother. Why can't she marry me. It's impossible. It's improbable. Your family my sister have no time. You're losing your train. Come it is the mad no don't think that. But I'm going away. Where are you going to the country to fairly good to be alone. To leave me alone I can't see you now. Now why no time machine. What have you done to her. What does it mean. It means that I've given you up. It means that can I see you. It would be only painful. I hoped I shouldn't see you that I should escape. I wrote to you but only three words goodbye. I simply go with
you. Will you grant me a last request. Let me go alone. Let me go in peace. Peace I say though it really did. But let me bury myself so goodbye. It seems very much as though you had interfered. Marquis I know you didn't like me but I thought you swore on your honor that you wouldn't interfere. Don't you remember. Pardon me sir but I assure you was that I wouldn't influence my sister's decision here to the letter of my gauge would I not by district don't appeal myself. Your words all sufficient. Yes she accepted me that's very true I I can't deny that. At least you did except me. But you have interfered now haven't you. Neither then nor now have attempted to influence my sister. No persuasion then no persuasion today and what have you you leave your stall for a day. Dar you've used off on it. They've used off
already. What in the world is there offered to you. How do they apply it my mother addressed me her command her command that you should give me up. First see how you use it. Why do you obey. I'm afraid of my mother. This is the most indecent scene I have no wish to prolong it. If you can pity me a little let me go alone. I'll come right down there. The party dropped behind and he sank with a long breath into the nearest chair. He leaned back in a tree ever resting his hands on the knobs of the arms and the thing at the belt and the Marquis. It was a long silence. I stood side by side their heads high on the handsome eyebrows arched. So you make a distinction. You make a distinction between persuading and commanding. It's very neat but the distinctions in favor of commanding back rather spoils it. We have not the least objection to defining our position. We quite understand that it
shouldn't appear to you altogether clear. We rather expect that you will not do is justice do you justice. Don't be afraid o me give me a chance. It is quite useless to try and arrange this matter so as to make it agreeable to you. I consider it carefully and try to an engine that time. But so you want we will. You will only think yourself ill treated and will publish among your friends. But we are not afraid of that. Besides your friends are not often I still watch the news. I think of us as you like. You don't really know us. Is that all you have to say. That's a poor show for a clever lady like you. Come try again. My mother goes to the point where the usual honesty but it's perhaps right I should add another word. We have course quite repudiate the charge having
broken faith with you. We don't you are entirely at liberty to make yourself agreeable to my sister. We liked her quite at liberty to entertain your proposal when she accepted you. We said nothing. We therefore wholly observed our promise. Do you suppose I can take this from you. Do you suppose it can matter to me what you say. Do you suppose I mean that you can so put off if you don't take it to God and leave it. It matters very little to you. The simple fact is my daughter has given you up. She doesn't mean it. I think I can assure you that she does one damn noble thing have you done to me gently. She told you. I expressed my final wish. This sort of thing can't be a man can't be used in this fashion. You not only have no right that isn't a preposterous pretense but you haven't tapped any worth
of power. My iPod is in my children's obedience their fear your daughter said there's something very strange. Oh I did my best. I could bear it no longer. It was a bold experiment I needn't tell you how you strike me of course you know but I should think you'd be afraid of your friends all those people you introduced me to the other night. There was some decent people apparently among them. You may depend upon it that what there were some good honest men and women are friends approve us and however that maybe we take the cue from no one. We've been much more used since one has to tell you to setting an example than to wait for it though he would have waited long before anyone would have sent you such an example as this I guess. Have I done anything wrong or me nor have I given you any reason to change your opinion. Our opinion is quite the same as at first. Exactly.
We have no ill will towards yourself. It's not your personal character that we object to. It's your professional it Shaw anticipate us. We really can't reconcile ourselves to a commercial purpose. We tried to believe in an evil hour it was possible but that it was all our great misfortune. We determined to persevered to the end and they give you every damn thing. I was resolved to stop and no reason to accuse me of a want of loyalty. We let something go very far like we introduced you to our friends. To tell the truth it was that I think that broke me down. You must pardon me if what I say is disagreeable to you. But you insisted on an explanation. There is no better proof of our good faith than our committing ourselves to you in the eyes of the world. Three evenings since that we have done more. But it was that that opened our eyes we should have been deeply
uncomfortable with any such continuance. Why. Granted we have probably doomed as odious as you please but we didn't see you on acquaintance you saw your Certainly odious enough. But it strikes me your pride falls short altogether in the whole matter I really see nothing but our humility. What you expect of me apparently is to go on my way. Thanking you for favors received promising never to trouble you I do expect you to act like an on this plane. You shown yourself that already. When one must recognize a situation well one must. Since my daughter absolutely read draws What do you gain by making a noise under our window. It remains to be seen if your daughter absolutely withdraws. She has given me her word and I have no doubt her words worth a great deal more than your own.
Nevertheless I don't give up. There's nothing of course to prevent here saying so. Think of what this must be to me. Why should you object What's the matter with me. I wouldn't hurt you if I could. What if I am but cumber show person something commercial person I never talk to you about business. Let it go and you will never see me or me again I'll stay in America if your life is not my dear sir we have not the slightest objection to seeing you as an amiable foreigner and we have every reason for not wishing to be eternally separated from my sister. Well hey where is this interesting place of yours for a year. I shall immediately follow the trains after this hour. Hire a special train. No that would be all that a foolish waste of money. It will be time enough to talk about waste three days since you didn't start immediately.
He was too stunned for action to have eaten humble pie patronized by nothing short of protest. He saw himself trustful generous liberal patient and to be turned off because he was a kind person. Blackmar do you feel there is no criticism. Newman not even an ironic suggestion perhaps in those last lines in which Newman is seen in which James sees Newman viewing himself as a patient liberal easy generous. There is a criticism certain in the sense that we know that Moore was not quite up to coping with the situation as at a practical level. Lowy does very well at a spiritual level from the point of view of the rhythm. We know that the bell guy and the bad people have got Iraq well I think if you do we have now any possible criticism I think I was in the crease in the psyche.
Funny is when he sais Canet passages about how to get special training and where the mother says well you shouldn't waste your money. Because that is them but actually I think I think about the difference between Europeans and Americans which is a good because when people talk about Americans being a carrot it's all nonsense. It's Europeans who care about America. You Americans then care enough they waste their thing and he sees one thing just for a moment is nice generous character but he's prepared to take a special train reseat your opinions if you can talk in his mind. It also shows the reach of the law. If I perhaps showed he was not mercenary since he was willing to use material means for spiritual ends if you like that is a favorable criticism. But there was also something to be said I think that he's attempted to confront no one. Whether society was a different entity from our own society or from Newman's own society
and what he has had this power and ability to do less and to do that to make a fortune and what is apparently sensible for seven days the Empire is still in progress. You've done this very rapidly indeed. But he is not up to this. The other thing. In fact the whole book is if you like an education of women. It is an education in several directions one that one seems to many of us very interesting college finding who he is himself another towards accommodating himself to the culture of Europe was changed to teach rather lightly in the book. Paul Newman goes about what it one hundred twenty eight different churches in the space of a few months. It might be one hundred fifty six doesn't make very much difference. He's trying not right. We find even the Louve to begin with you know bored to tears until he sees a pretty French girl. All right later on he has been away bored to tears with the Austin regime but very much. In love with a handsome French woman alongside al-Shami Jean for the
one thing that obviously comes as a complete shock and surprise for him is the blank use of impersonal authority when my mom just forbids her daughter to marry him and she doesn't mind. Yes because he's not. She would understand that to happen the ambassadress. If my mom just had a terrific personal power over her daughter the fact that she just does not as a person but as the head of the family in this impersonal way that I think shops noo and Dame I she simply doesn't know what to say. Mr Arden thinks this is European Do you think it's American Mr like much in what respects timely authority I think that family is already in America it is rather different today from either the American authority as of 1870 holiday Parisian authority of the US and regime authority. It was very difficult for us to quite see what that part of the state is by I
think we had a difficulty reading the novel to see what is its take that this is one man alone on the side of what we call freedom. On the side of what we call the best kind of innocence the innocence here belonging to the heroine belonging to Madonna's son Trey as well as to Norman each of them in that different way of being crushed and they were reminded of that I think in a melodramatic fashion. James love melodrama. At least as much as just ASCII. By the fact that at the time the scene was taking place which was just dramatized the other good friendship good from Newman's point of view was being killed in a silly rule. It was a very frivolous part of the inheritance of the house and regime whereas Madonna del guy and her son are concerned with the maintenance of power. But then again I think strange things that I don't think that Newman really understands the conception of honor that if you once committed yourself
- Henry James, part one
- Producing Organization
- University of Massachusetts
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- In this program, the first of two parts, critics W.H. Auden and R.P. Blackmur discuss European viewpoints of the American author Henry James.
- This series analyzes European views of the works of American authors.
- American literature--Europe--History and criticism.
- Media type
Guest: Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973
Guest: Blackmur, R. P. (Richard P.), 1904-1965
Moderator: Koehler, Stanley
Producing Organization: University of Massachusetts
Subject: James, Henry, 1843-1916
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-22-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “As others read us: American fiction abroad; Henry James, part one,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3n20h585.
- MLA: “As others read us: American fiction abroad; Henry James, part one.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3n20h585>.
- APA: As others read us: American fiction abroad; Henry James, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3n20h585