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|Title||:||Collected Travel Writings: Great Britain and America|
|Number of Pages||:||868 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Collected Travel Writings: Great Britain and America Reviews
In a piece itself titled The American Scene published in his collection The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden says of James’s The American Scene: “Indeed, perhaps the best way to approach this book is as a prose poem of the first order… It is not even necessary to start at the beginning or read with continuity; one can open it at almost any page.”I have followed Auden’s advice, even expanding it to include the other travel writings included in Collected Travel Writings: Great Britain and America, and have found James’s text, opening the volume to almost any page, generally close to unreadable: prolix high self-consciousness wrapped (apparently) in high self-regard. I have thought that perhaps it might be saved by reading it aloud in a funny voice, but have not yet attempted the test.On pages 604 through 606 in the present collection, in one paragraph of almost two pages’ length, James compares his voyage by train from Jersey City toward Charleston, South Carolina, through a surprising spring snow cover, to the general lack of American “discrimination”, to the American propensity to simplify everything:“Practically, till I reached Charleston, this way [the snowy monotony of the landscape, I think], disclaiming every invidious intent, refused to be dissociated from anything else in the world: it was only another case of the painting with a big brush, a brush steeped in crude universal white, and of the colossal size this implement was capable of assuming. Gradations, transitions, differences of any sort, temporal, material, social, whether in man or in his environment, shrank somehow, under its sweep, to negligible terms; and one had perhaps never yet seemed so to move through a vast simplified scheme. The illustration was once more, in fine, of the small inherent, the small accumulated resistance, in American air, to any force that does simplify. One found the signs of such resistance as little in the prospect enjoyed from the car-window as one distinguished them in the vain images if the interior; those human documents, deciphered from one’s seat in the Pullman, which yet do always, in their way, for the traveler, constitute precious evidence. The spread of this single great wash of winter from latitude to latitude struck me in fact as having its analogy in the vast vogue of some infinitely-selling novel, one of those happy volumes of which the circulation roars, periodically, from Atlantic to Pacific and from great windy State to State, in the manner, as I have heard it vividly put, of a blazing prairie fire; with as little possibility of arrest from “criticism” in the one case as from the bleating of lost sheep in the other. Everything, so to speak, was monotonized, and the whole social order might have had its nose, for the time, buried, by one leveling doom, in pages that, after the break of the spell, it would never know itself to mention again.”Pardon the lengthy and, to my ear (still lacking the funny voice enunciating it, it at least) ludicrously convoluted excerpt, which is, remarkably, only a portion of the original passage. That the snowy monotony of the landscape (not to mention the view of the compartment interior or its inhabitants) might suggest an analogy to a superficial American monoculture is, to my mind, the sort of passing thought which, on reflection, would hardly bear the weight of further exposition. A bit superficial itself, I’d be tempted to think. But to carry on at that length and manner? Cartoon like. Poetry? This patch only in some perversely satiric way, I’d venture.morning snow:onion shoots risingmark the garden plotBashō
Actually, I've only read some selected excerpts from Great Britain/The English Hours under the title "London by Henry James". A great choice, anyway, to know more about the maiden by the Thames in the late 19th century.