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Two Studies of Daisy Miller by Motley Deakin, University of Florida A. DAISY MILLER AND BAEDEKER "Pass not unblest the Genius of the place ! " —Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage I Perhaps Daisy Miller did not read Baedeker; she could ask her courier Eugenio instead. But to say this is just to quibble because the effect was still the same. Henry James's heroine lived and moved, she sought her destiny, in a landscape decreed for her by Baedeker and his kind, not one she selected of her own fancy and free will. As much as one might want to accept Daisy as a symbol of willfulness or innocence , he must recognize that, at least in terms of those places in Europe she frequented , Vevey and Rome, Switzerland and Italy, she followed the same old paths custom and vested interest had decreed she should follow. She stopped at the same resorts, stayed at the same hotels, viewed the same attractions, enjoyed by everyone else. She accepted and even pursued with delight the same old ways of the world already worn smooth by the Mrs. Costellos and the Winterbournes, or, for that matter, the Nathaniel Hawthornes, the Charles Eliot Nortons, the William Dean Howellses, and all those other Americans, fictional or real, who sought the pleasures and delights and satisfactions of Europe. However reluctantly, even Daisy's creator, Henry James, acquiesced in this necessity: "though as a fastidious few, we laugh at Mr. Cook, the great entrepreneur of travel, with his coupons and his caravans of 'personally conducted' sight-seers, we have all pretty well come to belong to his party in one way or another" (TS 63). If the "fastidious few" could not escape, what chance would Daisy have? These entrepreneurs of travel did more than suggest a route to travel, a hotel to frequent, a restaurant to patronize, an attraction to see. They specified the shops, the churches, the doctors. They even told one how he should see what he saw. Listening to the promptings of an earlier, more adventurous, more Romantic age, they noted the places to which these promptings led and then made those places fashionable . Realizing the hold that story and legend had on the traveler's mind, they conducted their caravans to the scenes where stories and legends could be retold, enhanced with the magic of the objects that helped actuate them. And one was made to feel improperly equipped if he did not have the appropriate library with him, a library that must include the guide books, of course, but should contain as well those seminal influences leading the Romantics to Lake Geneva and Rome: the "burning pages" of Rousseau's La Nouvelle Heloise, Goethe's Italienische Reise, Mme. de Stael's Corinne, or the more contemporary Marble Faun of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hillard's Six Months in Italy. Whether in Switzerland or Italy, the traveler must know his Byron and, if au courant, his Ruskin. This world the taste-makers presented to him grew quick with meaning, with realistic detail and allusive referent. That James made Daisy move through so pointedly familiar a world has effects in the story that can mislead us into thinking that, because we are familiar with where Daisy went, we need inquire no further. Recognizing Chillón, say, or St. Peter's as real and as the proper setting for a fashionable society to frequent, we pass on without stopping to question more closely what other effects the name and the object it represents can have. To the modern Ameri^ can reader, an even greater danger is that these names and places, which his compatriots may still know and frequent, nevertheless now lack the unique and distinctive significance they had for Henry James and his generation. Volume V Number 1 The Henry James Review FaU, 1983 Who visits Vevey today? Who seeks out this little Swiss city famous in the nineteenth century as a health resort and gathering place of the rich and powerful? And, if he does, will he respond with the same frisson of sensibility felt by his greatgrandfather ? If today one does make a typical European summer tour, in Switzerland one may see Lucerne and Geneva, but...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 2-28
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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