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Riassunto: Author spoint of view and his relation to his subject; but I prefix this word on the chance of any suspected or perceived failure of such references. My visit to America had been the first possible to me for nearly a quarter of a century, and I had before my last previous one, brief and distant to memory, spent other years in continuous absence; so that I was to return with much of the freslmess-ef-eye, outward and inward, which, with the further contribution of a state of desire, is commonly held a precious agent of perception. I felt nq. doubt, I confess, of my great advantage on that score; since if I had had time to become almost as fresh as an inquiring stranger, I had not on the other hand had enough to cease to be, or at least to feel, as acute as an initiated native. I made no scruple 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 on the extent of ground, that is, on which I might aspire to intimate intelligence at all than the pilgrim with the longest list of questions, the sharpest appetite for explanations and the largest exposure to mistakes. I felt myself then, all serenely, not exposed to grave mistakes though there were also doubtless explanations which would find me, and quite as contentedly, impenetrable.
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)
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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
Titolo: The American Scene
Casa editrice: Indiana University Press
Data di pubblicazione: 1968
Condizione libro: very good
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Condizione libro: Fair. Former Library book. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Codice libro della libreria GRP85910222
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Condizione libro: 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. Codice libro della libreria GRP62470879
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Condizione libro: Good. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Codice libro della libreria GRP95728180
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968. hardcover. Condizione libro: Very Good. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Codice libro della libreria GRP96349565
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press. Hardcover. Condizione libro: Fair. Codice libro della libreria G0253102308I5N00
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press, 1968. Hardcover. Condizione libro: Used: Acceptable. Codice libro della libreria SONG0253102308
Descrizione libro Condizione libro: Good. Book Condition: Good. Codice libro della libreria 97802531023004.0
Descrizione libro Condizione libro: Very Good. Book Condition: Very Good. Codice libro della libreria 97802531023003.0
Descrizione libro Jan 01, 1968. Condizione libro: Used: Acceptable. EX LIBRARY HARDBACK WITH DUST JACKET. USUAL STAMPS/MARKINGS - READY FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH. Codice libro della libreria FBA-13077N
Descrizione libro Indiana University Press, 1968. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110253102308