HENRY JAMES: Parisian Sketches by

HENRY JAMES: Parisian Sketches

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These letters to the New York Tribune, James' sole assay into journalism, are here presented in toto for the first time, beautifully annotated and with an excellent introduction. The letters, three of which were reprinted during James' lifetime, appeared from November 1875 to June 1876. They prove that he was no journalist, for they were largely essays, not true reporting. But through the letters, James' unique personality stands forth and his descriptions of Paris in the early days of the French Republic bear his unsurpassed touch. James, a young man just starting his career, knew most of the great literary figures in France in the '70's, but with the exception of a fine piece on George Sand, after her death, he tells little of the people he knew, who appear as names rather than personalities. Instead, he indulged in accounts of Paris itself, in comments on politics, art, the theatre, books and music, some of which are still valid. He abhorred the Impressionists and preferred Meissonier to Degas and Manet. The long, unbroken paragraphs- characteristic of James- the lack of topical subheads (he refused to allow the bune to insert them) combine to make the book difficult to read, and some readers may be inclined to skip the political comments. It is, perhaps, a specialized book for students of literature, the theatre and the arts, but it is certainly for all Jamesians.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1957
Publisher: N.Y. University Press