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Rudyard Kipling and Wolcott Balestier's Literary Collaboration: A Possible Source for James's "Collaboration" by Adeline R. Tintner Henry James's tale "Collaboration" (1892) about the artistic collaboration between a poet and a composer, though thought-provoking, has never had criticism of any kind. A "trifling" although "artful" anecdote, it is seen by Leon Edel as a reflection of a possible collaboration between Constance Fenimore Woolson and James for the writing of a play, but there is only her word for it in a letter that may represent simply wishful thinking on her part and/or placation on his. Certain facts, however, indicate that an artistic collaboration that did actually take place between two writers, though James was not one of them, does lie behind the tale. Just about the time James wrote it, he was deeply personally involved with two collaborators--an American, Wolcott Balestier, and Rudyard Kipling. It is their collaboration in a novel of the East and the West, The Naulahka (1891) and the conjunction of their talents and personal histories that seem to be reflected in James's "Collaboration." James became very friendly with the twenty-nine-year-old Balestier in 1890, some time after the latter became his literary agent. Kipling and Balestier met during 1891, and in the months before the untimely death from typhoid fever of the young American they became extremely intimate, to the extent that they wrote their novel together, an activity James described in his memorial essay on Balestier as his young friend's "working in concert with that extraordinary genius," Kipling. Balestier had written only three stories, all of which take place in the town of Topaz, Colorado, and he brought this locale and some of its characters to The Naulahka. The novel is centered around the stealing of a priceless Indian necklace by a Western American from Topaz, its return, and his winning of a mannish girl not too interested in marriage but finally committed to it. The meeting of Balestier, the writer of the West, with Kipling, the writer of the East, developed into a passionate friendship as well as a collaboration between two writers from different cultural milieux. This is reflected in James's story "Collaboration." After the shockingly sudden death of young Balestier in Germany, Kipling married his sister, Caroline Balestier, and James gave away the bride. The general impression has been that the love between the two men was satisfied by the one left alive through marriage to the dead man's sister. The dates of James's story seem to fit in with the dates of the tragedy and of James's commemorative essay on Balestier. James went to Dresden after 1. Leon Edel, Henry James: The Middle Years (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1962), p. 319. 2. Leon Edel, "A Young Man from the Provinces: Rudyard Kipling and Wolcott Balestier," in The Age of Kipling, ed. John Gross (New York: Simon and Schuster , 1972), p. 70. THE HENRY JAMES REVIEW 140 WINTER, 1983 Balestier's death on December 6, 1891, and in May, 1892, James's essay on Balestier appeared in The Cosmopolitan Magazine. It soon reappeared on June 17, 1892, as the foreword to The Average Woman, Balestier's volume containing his three short stories. From June until July James was in Siena visiting the Bourgets, and he probably wrote "Collaboration," right after Balestier's book appeared, during the summer months, for it was published in The English Illustrated Magazine in September, 1892.3 The atmosphere of Bourget and the reading in manuscript of his novel Cosmopolis, which would be published the next year, with its notion of what cosmopolitanism was (decadent and destructive ) was something James would take issue with. No doubt his little story was also determined in its shape and scope by a desire to refute Bourget's notion of cosmopolitanism and to replace it by his own theory, which saw in an extended internationalism, as he tells us in his tale, a refinement and advancement of civilization in which "the exchange of points of view and comparison of accents" take place and "beauty flourishes in a country without boundaries."4 it is "the land of dreams—the country of...


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