3. 1. Henry James. 'The Real Thing' (I) (2014)Apunte Inglés
Classe de dimarts 11/11.
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3. 1. HENRY JAMES. THE REAL THING (I)
Art, Power, Ethics in "The Real Thing"
American National Form: "Who’s written American Books?" They were still very influenced by British
Henry James is a very interesting writer who writes between centuries and between places. He writes in the shape, in the model British language, but the subject is different. His characters are usually American people.
How we, Americans, be so innocent, candid in our ways that sometimes get in contact with the European aristocracy. We want to belong to both worlds, high literature in British letters but giving an infocus to American Literature.
Characters - Outcasts and adventurers from the lower ranks of society. I. e. Twain, Harte, etc.
- Cultivated and well-being people. American aristocracy. I. e. Henry James.
Setting - South and West - North and East Personal concerns - Emotional and vernacular freedom - Psychological and aesthetic complexities. H. James writes in a way where he gets in an atmosphere to express the psychology of the characters.
Theme - Anecdotes. I. e. The Jumpoing Frog - Ideas. H. James. Reflection on the ways of art.
Language - American slang.
- Elaborate prose in British tradition. H. James uses words to belong to the main English literature from the British Isles. He writes like sophisticated people.
Tone - Humorous, spontaneous - Sentimental, self-conscious. He explores feelings and emotions, not lachrymose.
Style - Short sentences, straightforward, impersonal - Formal, subtle, experimental. I. e. Faulkner Point of View - Detached narrator. I. e. Hemingway - Psychological analysis trough ‘stream of consciousness’ (William James’ ‘Stream of thought’ chapter in his principles of psychology, 1890 ‒Henry James’ brother).
- Literature of reportage, social intervention, exploration of fact.
- Art of omission focus on form and atmosphere rather than matter or plot.
- A path part towards naturalism as a form of ultimate social documentation.
- A path towards aestheticism and twentieth century modernism (Woolf, Joyce, etc. NOT the same as Catalan modernism).
Historical change: economic changes had abolished the artist's dependence upon the aristocratic patron, making him instead into an entrepreneur in an open market (magazines, advertising).
“The Real Thing” Translation: "Lo auténtico" because this is the idea of the story. It's not what represents, but what actually is. Discussion between what is referential and what is representational.
Two aristocrats knock at the painter’s door and ask him to sit as models. But soon the painter realizes that they are in a financial crisis and, in fact, even though they look so well-dressed, they don't want their portraits: they offer themselves as models, to get paid. This painter may be doing pictures for books, so they might be ‘the real thing’ as aristocrats, as authentic gentlemen. But, in the end, what is better: having real aristocrats as models or having actual models? The painter is the narrator of the story. He almost tenderly tends to dramatize the situation of this aristocracy in an America full of business.
A parallel process: the story comically dramatizes the fall of the old aristocracy, whose representatives, the monarchs, now ironically seek a kind of patronage from a commercial artist the story's narrator, which is kind of ironic.
The monarchs wish to exchange their looks for financial security. They don't do, they are.
The narrator appeals to a theory of aesthetics to secure his own finances. But, is the narrator the real thing (a true artist)? The aristocrats aren’t because they don’t know how to make a living, and they are not useful as models.
Letter to ‘The times’, nov. 1888: A little before two o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday the 17th a poorly but respectably dressed old man, cleanly in appearance and with well-blacked shoes, staggered into the premises of the people’s palace, dying of starvation. Too weak to coherently explain his condition, he was led into the office and supplied by the clerks then in attendance with a basin of soup and some bread, which however, his famished stomach refused to retain for a moment, he was then placed in a cab and conveyed to the London hospital, where he inferred for about an hour and died; the coroner's jury subsequently returned a verdict of death from starvation.
Henry James, Letter to William James (1888): I aspire to write in such a way that it would be impossible e to the outsider to say whether i am at a given moment an American writing about England or an Englishman writing about America (dealing as i do with both countries), and so far from being ashamed of such an ambiguity i should be exceedingly proud of it, for it would be highly civilized.
In the first edition, they say “a gentleman with a lady”, then it's “a gentleman and a lady”. It indicates possession. The lady is ornamental and she knows it, she absolutely plays that role.
By the way it is written, we are given the idea that at first the artist thinks he'll make money, an immediate vision of sitters. In those days, he was having financial problems. He thinks they were coming to sit for him, but “not in the sense he should have referred”. There was nothing at first to indicate that they might not have com for a portrait. For the looks, they were likely to it.
The aristocratic couple has the ceremonial high-class protocol. Both of them are delicately and beautifully dressed according to their social class. They are very subtle.
Firstly, the artist thinks that they might be real, but perhaps they’re actors, he doesn’t see it clearly. He thought they might be lovers, but they have another kind of problem, and that’s why they actually couldn’t say what they were coming for. It isn’t until the half of the page 136 when he begins to realize that they came to be paid (i. e. “Ah you’re‒you’re‒a?”).
James’ writing is so subtle and metaphorically rich (i. e. “the lady finally said with a dim smile that had the effect of a moist sponge passed over a ‘sunk’ piece of painting, as well as of a vague allusion to vanished beauty” = The lady’s face “comes to life again).
When the Major speaks at page 136, the verb do is emphasized: they really need to eat something.