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Correspondence To the Editor: May I offer a slightly enigmatic postscript or footnote to Charles CarameUo 's iUuminating essay on Gertrude Stein and Henry James (HJR 6 [1985]: 182-203)? In 1932 after I sent my first books on Henry James published in Paris, one in French and one in English, to Gertrude Stein inscribed with "homage" in the French style, she responded by sending me her recently published How to Write. Her purpose I judge was both reciprocity and didactic: whether intentional or not I wiU never know. She enclosed her visiting card which carried simply the words "Miss Gertrude Stein" and the rue de Fleurus address. On this small space she wrote her thanks and expressed the hope that James "was sure that these"—the books—"would be written." Then she added "it was one of my tragedies that the introductions were not continued a tragedy I felt for myself as weU as for him at that time although I never knew him." Her reference to "the introductions" is clearly to the prefaces to the New York Edition which was the subject of my book in English. I find it curious she thought there should have been more prefaces when James had written as many as were required. To be sure posterity would have liked more. But Mr. Caramello may be interested in the way in which the word "tragedies" is used for James and for herself. I deduce that she would very much have liked to meet him: but her message has other overtones as well. CarameUo's article has so many insights that I send this in the hope he may be able to add some marginalia. Leon Edel To the Editor: John Carlos Rowe, in "The Politics of the Uncanny" (HJR 8 [1987]: 7990 ), misreads at one point the text of The American, thus slightly skewing his argument. Rowe writes, "Listening to Mozart's Don Giovanni for the first time, Newman runs into a cross-section of the cast in the novel: Madame de Bellegarde (my italics), Urbain, his young wife, Noémie, Valentin, Stanislas Kapp" (81). But to tell the truth, Madame de Bellegarde is not there—not, that is, the elder Madame de B., which is clearly whom Mr. Rowe means, since he continues later, "Comparing herself to the peasant girl, Zerlina, whom Don Giovanni unsuccessfully attempts to seduce and whose piercing scream brings the other characters to her rescue at the end of Act I, Madame de Bellegarde . . . suggests Correspondence 225 how patronizing Newman's comparison of her daughter, Claire, to a character in an opera is" (82; my italics). Let us look at the novel, however. Newman is at the theater where, during the interval after the first act, he sees "Urbain del Bellegarde and his wife. The little marquise was sweeping the house very busily with a glass, and Newman, supposing that she saw him, determined to go and bid her good-evening" (The American, ed. James W. Tuttleton [New York: Norton, 1978], p. 197, hereafter cited as TA). No older Madame de BeUegard there: "little" is a word unlikely to be used by James to describe the smaU but awesome dowager marquise. Clearly "the little marquise" refers to Urbain's wife, deducible not only from the placement of the phrase but from the way she comports herself. Sure enough, after an important talk with Valentin, Newman does join the "Urbains," and the conversation about Don Giovanni aUuded to before takes place. During the course of it, young Madame de BeUegarde (who has no first name in the novel) says: "I suppose Zerlina reminds you of me." Mr. Rowe, attributing the comparison to the older Madame de BeUegarde, caUs it "preposterous" in the latter case, and so it would be. Why, then, would she make it? Not only, says Mr. Rowe, in order to "[mock] Newman's ignorance of the opera": "She also reminds Newman that she possesses some of the spirit and fidelity that aUow Zerlina to resist Don Giovanni in the opera and may weU aUow Madame de BeUegarde to resist the seductive aUure of Newman's fortune" (82). AU this would be plausible if it were actuaUy...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 224-226
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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