Henry James Goes to Paris

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Princeton University Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 255 pages

Henry James's reputation as The Master is so familiar that it's hard to imagine he was ever someone on whom some things really were lost. This is the story of the year--1875 to 1876--when the young novelist moved to Paris, drawn by his literary idols living at the center of the early modern movement in art. As Peter Brooks skillfully recounts, James largely failed to appreciate or even understand the new artistic developments teeming around him during his Paris sojourn. But living in England twenty years later, he would recall the aesthetic lessons of Paris, and his memories of the radical perspectives opened up by French novelists and painters would help transform James into the writer of his adventurous later fiction. A narrative that combines biography and criticism and uses James's writings to tell the story from his point of view, Henry James Goes to Paris vividly brings to life the young American artist's Paris year--and its momentous artistic and personal consequences.

James's Paris story is one of enchantment and disenchantment. He initially loved Paris, he succeeded in meeting all the writers he admired (Turgenev, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant, Goncourt, and Daudet), and he witnessed the latest development in French painting, Impressionism. But James largely found the writers disappointing, and he completely misunderstood the paintings he saw. He also seems to have fallen in and out of love in a more ordinary sense--with a young Russian aesthete, Paul Zhukovsky. Disillusioned, James soon retreated to England--for good. But James would eventually be changed forever by his memories of Paris.

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Henry James goes to Paris

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In 1875, novelist Henry James spent a year in Paris, where many literary contemporaries (e.g., Gustave Flaubert,ƒ¯‚¿‚½mile Zola, and Ivan Turgenev) resided. Brooks (comparative literature, Yale ... Read full review

Contents

To Paris
7
The Dream of an Intenser Experience
53
What a Droll Thing to Represent
79
Flauberts Nerds
101
The Quickened Notation of Our Modernity
129
The Death of Zola Sex in the French Novel and the Improper
156
For the Sake of This End
177
Chariot of Fire
205
Notes
211
Bibliography
233
Acknowledgments
241
Index
243
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About the author (2007)

Peter Brooks is the Mellon Visiting Professor at Princeton University. He is the author of many works of literary criticism, including Reading for the Plot, The Melodramatic Imagination, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, Troubling Confessions, and Realist Vision. He has also published a novel, World Elsewhere (Simon & Schuster).

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