The American is Henry James' comic novel about an uncultured but well-meaning young businessman from the USA, who travels to Europe and is amazed by what he finds.
An illustrative example of humor in the later part of the 19th century, The American is a character-driven story about a man of commerce named Christopher Newman. Tired of the stresses and strains native to business in the USA, Newman decides to travel to Europe to seek adventure. On arrival, the beauties and sins of the Old World are both a shock and a thrill to the traveller, who despite a mixed reception from the peoples of the European continent remains nevertheless optimistic and driven to discovery.
The novel is generally lighthearted in portraying the naivete and optimism of Newman for comic effect. However, Henry James more serious undertone was to illustrate that Americans - despite their lack of refined mannerisms - are essentially an optimistic, honest and driven people with much to offer the wider world.
Much of the book takes place in Paris, which James viewed as the quintessential centre of European culture. Having himself traversed Parisian society, James' accurate and sensual descriptions of the city and the upper reaches of its social strata are among the most praised parts of the novel. Despite the colourful style he imparted, James was unable to make The American a truly realistic story - a shortfall to which he confessed.
Yet as a source of the era's humor and a romantic example of James' early style, The American is a book which shines.
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Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American-born British writer. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James. He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from a character's point of view allowed him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction. James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world. James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognisable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting. In addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays. James alternated between America and Europe for the first twenty years of his life; eventually he settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916 James was born at 2 Washington Place in New York City on 15 April 1843. His parents were Mary Walsh and Henry James, Sr. His father was intelligent, steadfastly congenial, and a lecturer and philosopher who had inherited independent means from his father, an Albany banker and investor. Mary came from a wealthy family long settled in New York City, and her sister Katherine lived with the family for an extended period of time. Henry, Jr. had three brothers, William who was one year his senior and younger brothers Wilkinson and Robertson. His younger sister was Alice.
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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 222 pages. 9.00x6.00x0.50 inches. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk1537656856