Much as I wished to see him I had kept my letter of introduction three weeks in my pocket-book. I was nervous and timid about meeting him - conscious of youth and ignorance, convinced that he was tormented by strangers, and especially by my country-people, and not exempt from the suspicion that he had the irritability as well as the dignity of genius. Moreover, the pleasurMuch as I wished to see him I had kept my letter of introduction three weeks in my pocket-book. I was nervous and timid about meeting him - conscious of youth and ignorance, convinced that he was tormented by strangers, and especially by my country-people, and not exempt from the suspicion that he had the irritability as well as the dignity of genius. Moreover, the pleasure, if it should occur - for I could scarcely believe it was near at hand - would be so great that I wished to think of it in advance, to feel it there against my breast, not to mix it with satisfactions more superficial and usual....
|Title||:||The Author of Beltraffio|
|Format Type||:||Library Binding|
|Number of Pages||:||273 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Author of Beltraffio Reviews
This long short story, first published in the English Illustrated Magazine (1884), may appear to be little more than a "morbid" family drama (James' own word) further darkened by a melodramatic conclusion, but it is in fact something much richer and far more complicated. Unfortunately, its riches remain largely unearthed, its complications still bewilderingly entwined, its resolution far from satisfactory.The story itself is simple. Mark Ambient is “the author of Beltraffio,” a celebrated novel which exemplifies the single-minded devotion to beauty prefigured in the pre-Raphaelites and expressed in the aesthetic movement of the 80's. Ambient's wife Beatrice, although the embodiment of beauty, detests her husband's amoral devotion to it, and, fearing his ideas may corrupt their beautiful—and sickly—seven year old son Dolcino, she does everything she can to keep him from being alone with his father. The unreliable narrator—a naïve young American, a devotee of the great writer—gives us an account of how this intensifying conflict affects the lives of the family during his visit to their country estate.To understand the themes of this story, it is useful to inquire into its source. James, in his Notebooks, reveals that his initial inspiration was the marriage of John Addington Symonds. Art historian Symonds' conventional wife hated his writings for being “pagan” and “hyper-aesthetic” (in the words of Edmond Gosse), and the writer eventually left England for Italy where he sought the company of beautiful young men. Around the time “Beltraffio” was written, Symonds' treatise Male Love: A Problem in Greek Ethics. was being privately circulated in England. Yes, this story is clearly about the conflict of Victorian Christian morality with the epicurean principles of the new hedonism, and how the war between them may be in danger of stifling beauty in blossom, but it is also about the new hedonism's embrace of sexual expression in general, and homosexual love in particular, and how that embrace may awaken the fears—legitimate or exaggerated—of the guardians of the Victorian family, how these very fears—not the tolerance of homosexual love itself—may be what puts our children in danger. Still, although we are called upon to side with the narrator and Mark Ambient, there are dark details which also lead us to share Beatrice's fear: the extraordinary beauty of the seven year old Dolcino, the hint of pederasty and incest, even the meaning of the word “Beltraffio” (“trafficking in beauty”).James was no fan of the aesthetic movement (he once described Oscar Wilde as “a fatuous fool, a tenth-rate cad”), but I believe his guarded attitude toward his own sexuality kept him from achieving the candor and nuance which would have coherently unified the ambitious themes of this tale, transforming it from a very good story into a great one.Later, when his style had grown in subtlety and power, James found a way to give this story's original impulse a richer artistic expression. Without completely jettisoning the theme of homosexuality, James decided that the central concept—the effect of a conventional woman's moral panic upon the children in her care—was best expressed from inside his female character, her fears and desires generating an astonishing complexity of themes. In this way, I believe, the masterpiece “The Turn of the Screw” was born.
Henry James m-a surprins. E drept că nu mă pot lăuda cu faptul că l-am studiat îndeajuns, deoarece nu mi-a fost dat să citesc până acum decât "Daisy Miller", "Elevul" şi "Fiara din junglă", toate trei fiind scrieri sobre, imparţiale şi obiective, aflate în sfera moravurilor vremii. "Autorul lui Beltraffio" este însă o capodoperă. Nici n-aş fi zis că citesc Henry James. În esenţă, este o transfigurare a teoriei estetismului. Curentul "artei pentru artă" se impune. James face ca arta, ca scop, să primeze asupra intereselor personale şi face ca preţul plătit petru asta să pară infim, deşi este vorba, totuşi, de moartea copilului autorului lui Beltraffio. Nuvela e esenţială pentru hedonişti. O recomand cu plăcere. Şi nu lipsesc nici alte problematici, obsesia afecţiunii materne sau, deopotrivă, neînţelegerea aceea morbidă dintre soți, ca în "Who's afraid of Wirginia Wolf?" având nuanţe puternice. O remarcă demnă de un bine şlefuit ego artistic: "... filtra aspectele vieţii prin prisma artistului, privea întraga viaţă ca pe un material literar. Unii mi-ar spune că nu e un mod prea fericit de a simţi viaţa, dar eu nu ţin să pledez în sprijinul acestei afirmaţii, limitându-mă doar să remarc că se pot găsi argumente în favoarea oricărui principiu ce solicită din partea unui om atâta simţire."De asemenea, naraţiunea este subiectivă, fapt care determina un dialog direct cu cititorul, acesta devenind confidentul naratorului.Andrei Tamaș,27 februarie 2017
I did not get that the narrator is a gay admirer of a gay author, but there is literally no other way to understand what is going on. Even so, the events are a bit melodramatic. One other note- the story did remind me of Hawthorne.
I much preferred this to Turn of the Screw. It has many interesting observations about the role/duty of the artist. I feel I only scratched the surface in this reading. Will be interesting to see what comes out of my bookgroup discussion.