A LITTLE TOUR IN FRANCE by Henry James

A LITTLE TOUR IN FRANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The revival of interest in Henry James will give impetus to the reissue of this once popular travel book, or more strictly speaking a record of his personal impressions of that part of France that was not the Paris he already knew. The reader's measure of enthusiasm for the book will inevitably be somewhat in proportion to his familiarity with the scene. My own preference for Chenonceaux and Asay-le-Rideau over all other chateaux finds gratifying echo in Henry James' own enthusiasm. Perhaps that is why this part of his book seemed to me the best. For me, he failed to convey an impression that makes its mark when writing of parts of rural France I did not know. His enthusiasms are, perhaps, too guarded, his prejudices too evident. And his tendency to stress architectural aspects beyond setting and atmosphere puts his book on a plane that demands more technical knowledge than the average armchair traveler contributes to his reading. But much of the book has charm and grace and is enhanced, for those who know their French literary background, by llusions to his beloved Balzac, and in lesser degree to other writers associated with the sectors covered, -- and by knowledge of France's history. His journeyings took him through most of the chateaux country, then south from Nantes to La Rochelle, through Gasoony from Bordeaux to Teulouse. Caroassonne and Avignon are given more stress, probably because they inspired in varying degrees his enthusiasm and his prejudice. Finally, via is Cete d' or to Dijon, with return to Paris luring him on. Notalgic recall, in part, essentially Henry James throughout, this will find a double audience. The fine photographs (32 of them) and the introduction by Michael Swan add to the value of the book today.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 1950
ISBN: 1421847795
Publisher: Farrar, Straus