American writers in Italy; 4
And I believe you don't even know you resent American writers in Italy a series of programmes especially produced in Rome for this radio station. Programme for Mark Twain and Henry J. The theory originated by literary critic Philip arrive divides American writers into two large categories red skins and pale faces the red skin writers are down to earth vigorously descriptive and avid for life experience is their surest teacher. They have done any
number of odd jobs and they always prefer the open road to schools pale face writers on the other hand are sophisticated sensitive and rather bloodless. They are afflicted by a languorous sentimentality. They fester with European culture and are consumed by a love of books. The distinction between the two types of writers simply corresponds to two ways of approaching reality on the part of Americans. One way the Redskin way is contemptuous of cultural traditions aspiring to direct and immediate engagement. The other way the pale faced way endeavors to make a richer and articulate impact utilizing all the literary and cultural heritage available. The Redskins are Mark Twain. They adored riser and Ernest Hemmingway pale faces are Henry James Scott Fitzgerald and J.D. Salinger. Look to acknowledge
masters of these opposing literary schools. I arrived in Italy in the 1870s. They set out to express in relation to Italy if not to Europe itself. There are two absolutely different reactions. These writers were Samuel Clemens better known as Mark Twain and Henry James. I'm a little a little worn during that memorable month I bask in the happiness of being for once in my life drifting with the tide of a great popular movement. Everybody was going to Europe. I too was going to Europe
and the steamship lines were carrying Americans out of the various ports of the country at the rate of four or five thousand a week. If I met a dozen individuals who were not going to Europe shortly and I have no distinct remembrance of it this was Mark Twain's brother. But first comment when in 1867 he accepted the offer of twelve hundred and fifty dollars from a California newspaper to take part in what was called the first organized pleasure party ever assembled for a transatlantic voyage. Mark Twain's notes of this journey were published under the rather lengthy title the innocence of brod or the new Pilgrim's Progress being some account of the steamship Quaker cities pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. Mark Twain displayed a little bit rude derision and irritated distrust. When he was confronted with the old world. Americans who
stopped an open mouthed admiration before every stretch of landscape got on his nerves. Young American girls deeply moved by the picturesque made him furious. Is fellow countrymen who went into ecstasies pretended to be for every picture in every gallery. Simply gave him a pain. He frankly confessed that the last supper of Leonardo da Vinci seemed to him much too weathered by turning to allow him to decide whether it was beautiful or not. And he wrote disparagingly of those who did not share his reaction. People come here from all parts of the world and glorify this masterpiece. They stand in trance before it with bated breath and parted lips and when they speak it it is only the catchy and Jackie Les shoes of rapture.
Twain confessed that looking around he liked just those things that no one else seemed to like when he was in a gallery and saw a picture that attracted him. He was careful not to let on that it did so that the guide wouldn't look at him contemptuously. He doubted the greatness of the artist and the painters who was Works he was being shown. He doubted the sincerity of the apparent admiration expressed for the great art. And he doubted that anything in Europe was as good as what was to be found in America Italy. He described as a place where one found poetry and song but never found soap in the hotels. There was a great deal of natural beauty as well as plenty of natural poverty. One found artistic refinement but also a good many intolerably vulgar manners. He found everything false adulterated and corrupt. The visit to the Duomo in Milan
is cited as an example of this by Mark Twain. The priest showed his two St. Paul's fingers when one eye was St. Peter's. The bone of Judas Iscariot. It was black. And also bones of all the other disciples. A handkerchief in which the Savior had left the impression of his face and a picture of the version in child painted by the veritable hand of Saint look. Well this is the second of St. Luke's virgins we've seen. This theme of commercial exploitation of religious relics appears frequently in innocence abroad possibly abetted by our Puritan suspicion of institutionalized Catholicism. But Mark Twain shows no more respect for literature for art or for poetry. He displays a perverse pleasure in the banking realities which are presented as precious and spiritual trying to show their other grossly
material side. A case in point is the comment on Francesco Petrarca. One of the greatest of Italian poets. We wish to go to the ambrosia in library and we did also. We saw a manuscript of Virgil with annotations in the handwriting of Petrarch the gentleman who loved another man's Laura and lavished upon her all through life a love that was a clear waste of raw material. It was sound of sentiment but bad judgment. It brought both parties fame and created a fountain of commiseration for them in sentimental breasts. That is running yet. But who says a word on behalf of poor Mr. Law. I don't know is the other name. Who glorifies him. Nobody. They got fame and sympathy. He got neither.
Comments such as this make it more easy to understand what the critics mean when they speak of Mike Twain's attitude as Westen The entity with which Mark Twain tried to propagate and every American who was going abroad. Leslie Fiedler defined the term as applied to Mark Twain. The Mark Twain of 1867 was in short the kind of boy man we think of referring to as a Westerner. One of whom the power of adulthood and the irresponsibility of childhood ideally combined. Obviously Mark Twain was trying to work off as quickly as possible and evident sense of inferiority which he felt vaguely when he was faced with a lofty old world and particularly with less pretentious.
Catchy a jackal ations of Raptor as Mike Twain called them were probably still ringing in the air. Several years later when Daisy Miller one of Henry James favorite heroines arrived in Italy the year is 1879 and the atmosphere is changed completely for Henry James. The encounter with Italy created a moral conflict with countless ramifications literary historians point out that aside from James's first tool long periods of residence in Italy in 1869 and in 1874 he returned to the Peninsula another twelve times during the course of his lifetime. And in noting the influence that Italy exerted on his work the literary historians add that 20 of James's twenty two novels and fifty one of his one hundred twelve short stories contain references to Italy. Nor are these references intended merely for exterior background.
Henry James found Italy a gifted land with a beauty as he expressed it almost impossible to support. In Italian culture and Italian civilization James found a sense of what he termed lived life. But it was a lived life arranged around a conscious coherent style of living and James spoke frequently of the vast respect he had for the artistic heritage of Italy. We go to Italy to gaze upon certain of the highest achievements of human power which represent to the imagination the maximum of man's creative force. In Italy one is conscious of the aesthetic presence of the past. One is also ensnared by the analyzable lovable in this of the country. In regimes as characters living in Italy however were nevertheless projected on the screen of passions and high drama as is demonstrated in both is
the portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl. But perhaps the dreams book most easily accessible and the one most readable even through its complex symbolism is Daisy Miller. Ico. Then SEE Miller is the story of a young American girl who arrives in Rome during the course of a
European tour. While in Switzerland. She had come to know Winterbourne an aristocratic countryman who cannot seem to classify Daisy among the various traveling types to which she is accustomed. Is she serious he wonders or is she as he suspects a pretty American flirt. Daisy unsettles him with her unusual mixture of extravagance and candor of ingenuity and frankness. He invites her to come with him to visit the famous Baroni and Castle of Chillon. She accepts and in so doing in those times skin realizes the young man's rich and possessive and who finds Daisy common. But the little excursion turns out to be a wholly innocent one. Something which both disappoints and gratifies Winterbourne the two than separate to meet again sometime later in Rome.
In the eternal city the Z has acquired a bad reputation because she is seen often with a certain given in the dandy and a fortune hunter. But apparently she puts up with this company most willingly Winterbourne is disturbed. Meanwhile friends of the family arrive in Rome including a certain Mrs Walker. They make public scenes and some of the most crowded spots in Rome apparently attempting to defend Daisy's honor on one occasion. Daisy is taking a walk in the Pincio accompanied by both juvenilia and Winterbourne when a carriage grows up bearing a tightly furious Mrs Walker. Henry James continued. Daisy on learning that Mrs. Walker wished to speak to her. Retraced her steps with a perfectly good grace and with Mr. Jordan nearly at her side. She declared that she was delighted to have a chance to present this gentleman to Mrs. Walker. She immediately achieve the introduction and declared that she had never in her life seen anything so lovely
as Mrs. Walker's carriage rug. Smiling sweetly. Mrs. Walker spoke. I am glad you admire it. Will you get him in let me put it over you. No thank you. I actually admire it much more as I see you driving around with it. Do you drive with me. And it would be charming but it is so enchanting just as I am. It may be in chanting dear child but it is not the custom here when it ought to be then. If I didn't walk I should expire. You should walk with your mother dear my mother dear my mother never walk ten steps in your life and then you know I am more than five years old. You are old enough to be more reasonable. You are old enough dear Miss Miller to be talked about talked about. What do you mean. Come into my carriage and I will tell you. I don't think I want to know what you are. I don't think I should like you
should you prefer being thought of very reckless girl. Daisy turned her quickened glance again from one of the gentleman beside her to the other. Mr Joe now he was bowing to and fro rubbing down his gloves and laughing very agreeably. We thought it a very unpleasant scene at this point. Winterbourne would like very much for Mrs Walker to talk in her carriage rug and drive away. Mrs Walker on the other hand is about to do no such thing. She does not like being defied as she later tells Winterbourne and attempts to continue the conversation but without success.
This scene is important not only because it amply demonstrates James's capacity for ironic observation and his deafness and contrasting the fresh ingenuity of the girl with a caustic good intentions of a lady of high society. But also because it reflects the conflict imbedded in the structure of the story itself. Daisy insists on leading her life as she pleases. The American colony in Rome is determined to blame her and to condemn her. As for Winterbourne he continues to be perplexed as he was in Switzerland when he first met Daisy Miller Winterbourne as a character in the novel represents above all the observer. The point of view through which the author looks at his subjects and narrative technique which Henry James brings to perfection later in his writing career. At the time in which this story is said Rome was threatened by a subtle and penetrating evil
the miasmic Fogg's of the surrounding countryside spread to the heart of the city and inflicted the air especially at night. Many of the admonitions given to Daisy Miller therefore I'm motivated more or less by hygienic rather than moral considerations. But Daisy pays attention neither to one nor the other. And this recklessness in her character brings her to a difficult impasse which is also the central scene of the story. Henry James leads up to it through his observer Winterbourne. One evening as Winterbourne returning from a walk across the dusky circle of the Colosseum. It occurred to him as a lover of the picturesque that the
interior in the pale moonshine would be very worth a glance. He turned aside. And walked to one of the empty arches near which as he observed an open carriage one of the little Roman street Cabs was stationed. Then he passed in among the cavernous shadows of the great structure and emerged upon the clear and silent arena. The place had never seemed to him more impressive. One half of the gigantic circus was in deep shade. The other was sleeping in the luminous dusk. As he stood there he began to murmur Byron's famous lines of mine for it. But before he had finished his quotation he remembered that if nocturnal meditation's in the Colosseum were recommended by the poets they are deprecated by the doctor. The historic atmosphere was there certainly. But the historic atmosphere scientifically considered. Was no better than a villainous miasma. Winterbourne walk to the middle of the arena to take a more general glance intending thereafter to make
a hasty retreat. The great cross in the center was covered with shadow. It was only as he drew nearer that he made it out distinctly. Then he saw that two persons were stationed upon the low steps that formed its base. One of these was a woman seated. Her companion was standing in front of. The two persons were Daisy Miller and Joe by nearly. By placing herself in this position. Daisy has with one stroke violated two laws the law of medicine and the law of moral proteids. It becomes reasonable therefore and carrying out the basic structure of the book that she will be punished in one way or the other. She is stricken with malaria and she dies. You know and.
The meaning of the fate of Daisy Miller seems clear. Immersion in the old world is fatal to American innocence. The historic atmosphere when considered in a scientific pragmatic American way is no better than a villainous miasma. However the readers of Henry James know that he cannot be interpreted simply behind the narrative lies a beckoning ambiguity and a warning not to be deluded into thinking one has understood everything. It is enough to think for a moment as the Italian critic and see Lottie has done very acutely to realise that matters are not exactly as they seem. Malaria has killed Daisy Miller physically but spiritually her own compatriots have killed her by ostracizing her and excluding her from their favors socially. They are timorous conformist and mean. In the novel generally they cut very poor figures daises mother is a
stolid gross woman newly rich middle class and comically caught in the snares of society life. Brother Randolph is an overgrown boy impertinent intrusive and awkward. He is always ready to compare Europe unfavorably to America. It might even be said that he represents the negative side of American innocence. Mrs. Costello went to Bond's poss. and is described by Henry James as a person of much distinction who frequently intimated that if she were not so dreadfully liable to sick headaches she would probably have left a deeper impress upon her time Winterbourne himself is ambiguous and indecisive incapable of fully understanding the source of daises innocence. Although he is fascinated by her. Daisy Miller really is innocent which Winterbourne at last understands when she is about to die. She has promised nothing and has given nothing at all to
job in Italy and the fortune hunting job NLE who possesses a distinct style of his own and a certain dis interested discretion confirms this innocence and to Winterbourne himself. The two men meet at Daisy's funeral Winterbourne senses that job NLE has something to say but does not encourage him. Finally Joel and Ellie says that Daisy Miller was the most beautiful young lady he had ever seen and the most amiable. And after a moment of silence and add to that he she was also the most innocent. The two men look at each other and terminally only repeats the Daisy Miller was the most innocent.
The contrast and the confrontation to be found in the novel is not there for between Italy and America. But within America itself. Between persons like Daisy Miller who are really young and ingenuous. And persons who are already old and dried out and paltry. Mark Twain used Europe and Italy to externalize his own sense of provincial inferiority and read James Hughes you were up and Italy with their background of churches and ruins and pictures as a drama of conscience as a typically American moral debate. And it may be said that Henry James came to Europe and to Italy so that he might know himself better. This is concluded the fourth in our series of programs on American authors and their relationship to
Italy programs especially produced in Rome for this radio station this fourth programme was titled Mark Twain and Henry James. The music on this program included excerpts from the works of kata Loni Verity Stephen Foster and then the music is from the company to ecology and I took a course in. The fifth programme in the series will be devoted to American writers and the Italian at least argument will be with us next time when they're not.
- American writers in Italy
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-34-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “American writers in Italy; 4.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-xp6v2r47>.
- APA: American writers in Italy; 4. 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-xp6v2r47