In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Geography in "The Siege of London" by George Monteiro, Brown University Leon Edel's principle of selection of texts for his twelve-volume edition of The Complete Tales of Henry James (Philadelphia and New York: Lippincott, 1962-1964), is stated clearly and, at first, plausibly: In preparing these tales for publication, the editor had to choose between James's original magazine texts, those published in book form soon afterwards and those revised and rewritten for the New York Edition. The obvious choice, it seemed to him, was the original book form of the story where there was one. In that form it was best known to James's generation. It seemed to the editor that in a chronological edition of James's shorter fiction, the New York Edition texts had no relevance. They belong exclusively to the edition for which they were designed; particularly since the revisions were often made several decades after the original publication. (V, 413) Henry James would of course have disagreed with his editor. If there were stories and texts that he did not want resurrected at all, there were other texts--many other texts--that he would reprint in the New York Edition only after he had finely tuned their language to suit his latest taste and to meet his Master's standards. Still, Edel does have a point. There is profit in reading James's stories as his readers encountered them in, first, magazines, and, then, volumes. If, therefore, the choice to print those first appearances verbatim and without notes laying out the textual variants of later versions, particularly that text printed in the New York Edition, enables us to capture James seriatim in creative march (with, usually, one chance at revision--between magazine appearance and first book appearance), it enables us as well, on occasion, to see the writer who was not yet the Master, sporting what would turn out to be unwanted warts. A case in point is "The Siege of London," one of James's satires on British life and society. First published in Cornhill Magazine in JanuaryFebruary 1883 (47:1-34, 225-56), it was collected, along with the "The Pension Beaurepas" and "The Point of View," in The Siege of London (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883), which was published on 24 February. It is the book text that Edel tells us he reprints in Complete Tales, with, though Edel does not tell us, its rather embarrassing errors of geography--errors that James would quietly transform when he revised the tale for the 1900 volume of the New York Edition that contains it. James's shaky American geography was undoubtedly noticed silently by more than one reader. But it must have been particularly bitter for James, who was something of a Howellsian realist at the time, to have the whole matter brought to the light of print by, of all magazines, the Overland Monthly. Ih June 1883 (second series, 1:649), anonymously presented under "Current Comment," appeared a paragraph that put the London/Parisian James in his most un-American place: THE HENRY JAMES REVIEW 144 WINTER, 1983 We shall have to agree before long upon a more precise definition of the sectional term "West." The resident on the Atlantic seaboard designates the whole region beyond the Alleghanies as "out West." The denizen of Cincinnati or Chicago moves that indefinite region to the farther side of the Missouri, with a mental reservation that it is bounded by the Rocky Mountains. When it comes to speaking of our State, it is then the "extreme West," or the "Pacific slope." There is yet a tantalizing vagueness in the matter which ought to be cleared up. How hopeless the case is, however, is painfully apparent from the confusion of mind of Mr. Henry James, Jr. In his recent story—"The Siege of London"—the heroine hails from San Diego, and the writer constantly speaks of her as from the Southwest. Moreover, the lady is residing in San Diego with her husband, whose occupation is that of editor of the "Dacotah Herald"; and a particular friend of hers, another of the characters in the story, rides over from New Mexico two or three times...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 144-145
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.