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ELT 48 : 1 2005 Phillip Smith and Michael Helfand's Oscar Wilde's Oxford Notebooks (a work he cites in his notes). Then too one can offer corrections to what seem the overemphases of other approaches, as Sloan does to that of Guy and Small, without engaging in point-by-point argument with the proponents of those approaches. Since the book's format does not allow for the full elaboration of critical argument, the value of the book depends in large part on the author's learning, good sense, and critical acumen, all of which are evident in abundance here. BRUCE BASHFORD SUNY, Stony Brook Innocents Abroad William Righter. American Memory in Henry James: Void and Value. Rosemary Righter, ed. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2004. xi + 200 pp. $79.95 JUST AFTER Henry James delivered The Golden Bowl to his publisher, he sailed for the United States. It was 24 August 1904. He had not visited his home country since 1883. Perhaps it was no coincidence that with the end of the novel approaching, he had already put a deposit on an upper promenade deck cabin. The resolution of The Golden Bowl had the reluctant Adam Verver and his even more reluctant, and Europeanized, second wife, Charlotte, also set sail for America. Befitting his circumstances, Verver, a reclusive multi-millionaire tycoon, would have reserved the most luxurious suite, although that would not have relieved the implied dread of the mismatched couple about what would follow, anxieties certainly not even communicated to each other. For the ambitious, feline Charlotte, mistress of Prince Amerigo even after her marriage, the prospect of America is only a future as leading lady of a gloomy and undefined industrial conurbation somewhere in the States. It is more like being caged, or "transported, doomed" much as convicts of yore, even if the terminus across the Atlantic will be made grand in the newest American style. "American City" (which James leaves placeless) at best to Charlotte will be a gilded nothingness. As her English friend Mrs. Assingham puts it, "I see the long miles of ocean and the dreadful great country, State after State—which have never [before] seemed to me so big or so terrible. I see them at last, day by day and step by step, at the far end—and I see them never coming back. But never, simply." James would find both "dreadful" and "great" to be prophetic adjectives for his own experience. How the Ververs accommodated to American City, to be found on no map, can only be anticipated by what we learn 104 book Reviews of them by the close of the novel, and by James's impressions as registered in his letters and in The American Scene (1905). He had experienced relatively little of bustling, burgeoning post-Civil War America in his younger years. While writing The Ambassadors (1901), in which another senior American abroad reluctantly takes passage home to what he anticipates will be a more dreary America than the one he had left, James had discovered in himself "a passion of nostalgia" that he had tried to put aside. That preparatory ambivalence would emerge in The Golden Bowl. The late William Righter (1927-1997), a critic and philosopher at the University of Warwick and an American expatriate himself, in a book posthumously edited by his widow, Rosemary, has subtly examined James's troubled vision of America. He focuses primarily upon the two great turn-of-the-century novels predating the new reality which James encountered in 1904—"the cult of the new." To Righter the paradox bridging both novels, James's masterpieces, appears to be that "the darkness of exile" is actually the expatriate vision of the America they abandoned, where there seems no continuity, at their rarefied level, of European culture and tradition. The wealthy, bland Adam Verver, whose vague enterprises somewhere across the Atlantic furnish vast income without much, if any, involvement on his part, is more an accumulator of art than a collector. Much of it, unidentified, is stockpiled at his English country estate, and destined to be transplanted to the splendid museum (and monument to himself) which he expects to establish in the city central to...


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pp. 104-108
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Will Be Archived 2021
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