Henry James (Hardcover)
Travel Writings Vol. 2 (LOA #65): The Continent (Library of America Collected Nonfiction of Henry James #4)
Library of America, 9780940450776, 868pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 1993
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From Tours, Balzac’s birthplace, James travels to the great chateaux of the Loire Valley, visiting Chambord, Amboise, Chenonceaux, and Blois, where, as you cross the threshold, “you step straight into the sunshine and storm of the French Renaissance.” Dense with literary associations and historical echoes, James’s prose brings castles and cathedrals and old walled towns to life. In his glancingly precise visual evocations of terrain and cityscape, he realizes his ambition “to sketch without a palette or brushes.”
Henry James loved Italy, “a beautiful disheveled nymph” to England’s “good married matron.” The incisive and witty essays in Italian Hours (1909) describe memorably happy sojourns in Venice, Rome, and Florence, and excursions to Siena, Assisi, Perugia, Capri, Ravenna, and other Italian cities. “Nowhere do art and life seem so interfused” as in Venice, wrote James in celebration of the splendor of Venetian light and color, air, and history. He records his radiant impressions of Roman churches and aqueducts, museums and fountains, and rambles through the gardens of the Villa Borghese in spring, when Rome seems lighted “with an irresistible smile.” All these essays are filled with James’s intense pleasure in Italian places and people.
This volume concludes with sixteen essays on such varied places as Switzerland, Holland, Rheims, and the Pyrénées, including a memorable account of the American volunteer ambulance corps in Europe during World War One.
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About the Author
Richard Howard, volume editor, is a critic, translator, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. He is Professor of Practice in the School of the Arts of Columbia University.