HENRY JAMES (1843-1916)
- The aftermath of the Civil War – the violence and the casualties leave deep marks in the collective consciousness;
- Increased immigration after the Civil War;
- Segregation between black and white people;
- Industrial Revolution in the North;
- The South continues to rely on agriculture.
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:
- Massive immigration from Europe and China;
- Businesses expand;
- A transport network develops to stimulate trade. Roads, railways, and steamboats are built;
- Technological inventions: mass production of motorcars (Henry Ford); the invention of the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell -1876);
- By the end of the 19th century, the USA had become a huge, modern, industrialised nation.
IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:
Literary trend: REALISM
Principles of Realism:
- normal situations and ordinary characters are described in familiar settings;
- attention to detail;
- description based on experience, not imagination;
- lower strata of society are emphasized;
- very little use of metaphors.
Realistic novel traits (the novel is the best form of expression for realism, as it describes the world faithfully and doesn’t idealize it):
- Major theme: the place of the individual in society;
- Long, dense, with complicated plots;
- Physical descriptions of characters are realistic;
- Lots of characters, most of them belong to the middle and lower classes;
- A new type of character: the one who transcends social barriers through marriage, hard work, or legacies. Characters are motivated by greed, lust, and confusion.
Literary trend: PRE-MODERNISM
- Focus on the inner world of the character: literary devices ̶ memory, perception.
- The plot is replaced by specific modernist patterns: time, place, character, leitmotifs, symbols, mythic patterns, and cinematic devices (space and time montage).
- Theme: atemporal, eternal conflicts of the soul, philosophy.
THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORK
Born in New York;
Was a naturalized English citizen from 1915;
Never married, devoted his life to writing and travelling;
His circles of friends included intellectuals, artists, and philosophers of the time;
Lived in the USA, England, Switzerland, France, and Italy and moved freely between these countries.
- “The Portrait of a Lady”
- “What Maisie Knew”
- “Roderick Hudson”
- “The Turn of the Screw”
- “The Wings of the Dove”
- “The Ambassadors”
- “The Golden Bowl”