Henry James: The Conquest of London, 1870-1883 - Vol. 2

By Leon Edel | Go to book overview

ESCAPE

LATE in the summer of 1871 Henry visited Canada briefly, from Niagara to Quebec, again writing articles on his travels for the Nation. His little tour began with a boat-trip--from Toronto across Lake Ontario; in due course he studied Niagara and rhapsodized for his readers in the manner of one of his own untutored Americans in his tales--"it beats Michelangelo." This he later modified into a more aesthetic judgment--"in the matter of line it beats Michelangelo." His observations of Quebec were happier; here at least was evidence of an older culture, instead of nature in the raw.

The city had seemed to snatch a past "from our scanty annals" and he wondered what its future might be. Quebec reminded him somewhat of Boulogne-sur-Mer, where he had spent his fourteenth year. He grasped quickly the nature of the French- Canadian society, "locked up in its small dead capital, isolated on a heedless continent, and gradually consuming its principal, as one may say--its vital stock of memories, traditions, and routine." Evenings in Quebec, he thought, might be as dull as Balzac's scenes of provincial life. Did they play loto and arrange marriages between their sons and daughters, whose education was confided to abbés and abbesses? He encountered in the streets little old Frenchmen who looked indeed as if they had stepped out of Balzac. Quebec, he mused, must be a city of gossip, for he saw no sign that it was a city of culture. He scanned the windows of the booksellers: a few Catholic statuettes and prints, two or three Catholic publications, "a festoon or so of rosaries, a volume of Lamartine, a supply of ink and matches." James walked in the marketplace and listened to the patois of the farmers and noted their "evident good terms with the tin-spired parish church, standing there as bright and clean with ungrudged paint and varnish as a Nürnberg toy." One of them spoke to him

-57-

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Henry James: The Conquest of London, 1870-1883 - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations x
  • Introduction xi
  • Book One a Season in Cambridge 1870-1872 xv
  • The Precious Wound 17
  • The Exquisite Provincials 25
  • The Dispossessed 32
  • The Great American Novel 40
  • Alice 44
  • The Art of Seeing 51
  • Escape 57
  • Book Two Transatlantic Sketches 1872 61
  • Brother and Nephew 63
  • The Sentimental Tourist 69
  • A Parisian Autumn 75
  • Book Three Roman Hours 1873 81
  • A Roman Winter 83
  • The Two Palaces 91
  • Roman Rides 99
  • Six Women 108
  • A Study in Mauve 115
  • The Monocle 124
  • A Roman Spring 127
  • Book Four the Choice 1873-1875 135
  • William 137
  • Angel and Brother 146
  • The Fork in the Path 157
  • The Palpable Present 163
  • Roderick Hudson 176
  • A New York Winter 182
  • Benvolio 191
  • Book Five the Siege of Paris 1875-1876 201
  • Ivan Sergeyevich 203
  • The Lesson of the Master 209
  • Councils of the Gods 215
  • Pastel 223
  • Parisian Life 228
  • Silk Purse and Sow's Ear 238
  • The American 246
  • In the Provinces 261
  • A Channel Crossing 268
  • Book Six the Conquest of London 1876-1878 271
  • The Observant Stranger 273
  • London Clubs 284
  • The Bird of Paradox 287
  • A Little Journey 290
  • Daisy 303
  • The Two Secretaries 320
  • A Position in Society 328
  • Book Seven a Reasonable Show of Fame 1878-1879 341
  • The Objective Genius 343
  • The Bachelor of Bolton Street 347
  • Three Old Women 352
  • Visits 361
  • A Dinner at the Reform 367
  • Carthorse and Racer 370
  • The Bard and Mr Browning 374
  • Voltaire in Petticoats 377
  • C' Est Mon Plaisir... 381
  • Book Eight Portrait of a Lady 1879-1881 385
  • Provincial Storm 387
  • The Frail Vessels 395
  • Fathers and Daughters 401
  • A Neapolitan Episode 408
  • Fenimore 411
  • A Band of Egotists 421
  • Venice 437
  • Book Nine Terminations 1881-1883 449
  • Homecoming 451
  • The Dome and the Shaft 458
  • Mary James 465
  • An Exquisite Stillness 467
  • A Little Tour in France 475
  • November Parting 486
  • A Winter Summons 488
  • Son and Brother 494
  • Notes and Acknowledgments 511
  • Index 521
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