Titel: The American Scene
Verlag: Granville Publishing/The Angel Bookshop, London, U.K.
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: No Dust Jacket
Art des Buches: Used
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This book was originally published prior to 1923, and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work. While some publishers have opted to apply OCR (optical character recognition) technology to the process, we believe this leads to sub-optimal results (frequent typographical errors, strange characters and confusing formatting) and does not adequately preserve the historical character of the original artifact. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work or the scanning process itself. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy seeing the book in a format as close as possible to that intended by the original publisher.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
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