9780678028025 / 0678028028

The American (Scribner Reprint Editions)


Publisher:Augustus M Kelley Pubs



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About the book:

Henry James' great theme is the collision of cultures, of New World American energy encountering Old World European aristocracy; and his supreme skill is in the delineation of the unspoken subtleties that govern human interaction-- the meanings behind people's words, the delicate signals by which people communicate more than the conventions of conversation or society allow.

The American is built around a moral dilemma that dramatises this clash of cultures. Wealthy, open-hearted Christopher Newman (the New Man in the Old World) visits Paris and falls in love with impoverished French aristocrat, Claire de Cintre. However, her snobbish family bully her into breaking off the engagement. When Newman discovers that his former fiancée's family are hiding a dark secret, corrupt Old World morals suggest he should use it to take his revenge; but his simpler American sense tells him that this would be wrong. What should he do? The fine touch with which James explores the complexities of this scenario markes an extraordinary advance over his first novel, Roderick Hudson; and The American looks forward to the mature classics of James' middle period, books like Daisy Miller and Portrai t of a Lady--all novels that explore the classic Jamesian theme of Americans in Europe. --Adam Roberts

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