Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Review: An International Episode by Henry James

Get it here.
In 'Something New' Wodehouse has Joan Valentine, the female writer,
say of the magazine she works for:

'It's a horrid little paper--all brown-paper patterns and advice to the
lovelorn and puzzles. I do a short story for it every week, under
various names. A duke or an earl goes with each story.'

One week, I suspect she chose the pen name 'Henry James'.

This story features the son of a duke, and seems to want to
justify its existence by reflecting on the difference between
English and American Society.

Really, though, its just a romantic yarn, with a will-they-won't-they
conclusion. Seeing that in Washington Square, Mr James would
not allow his lovers any satisfaction, he denies it them here as well.

And he repeats the idea of having the female lover be sincere but naive
and be advised by a cold cynical type, who treats the romantic
happiness of her younger charge as subsidiary to her own triumphs.

One wonders if a pattern is emerging here. Was Mr James a roaring hit
at parties? Did he have a fine line in comic songs?

Still, he certainly writes fantastic dialogue, but he does make you wait for it.
There are two conversations in this piece that justify the price of admission,
so to speak, but the rest is perhaps best read as a companion piece to Washington

Next: Lady Susan, by Jane Austen


moya said...

Hi Chris

I've just finished reading Author, Author by David Lodge which is a fictionalised biography of Henry James and one of the best books I've read for a long time. It throws a lot of light on James but also on one of his best friends, George du Muarier, and his novel Trilby (not yet available on there's a thought......)
Once again, many thanks for blog and readings
Best wishes

ChrisHughes said...

Thanks for that, Moya. I am going on holiday in a few days, so will have to stock up on non-Public Domain books to read - if my family let me, of course!