February 06, 2005

Late James Reading

This is to propose that interested visitors join me in reading Henry James's trio of late, great novels: The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. Please post a comment to indicate your interest and your ideas about when we ought to begin, and sign your comment with the name that you intend to use throughout the reading, and feel free to circulate the permalink to this invitation.

It is my hope that we can develop a way of reading these novels together without being on the same schedule. Although that might sound paradoxical, I think that it may work, and I hope that you'll join me in trying.

Further Thinking: I think that I've hit on a way to structure the bloguification, so to speak, of a group read while freeing it from schedules. Instead of posting my own thoughts and waiting to hear from other people, I'm going to set up a series of posts pegged to the divisions of The Ambassadors. Thus: "The Ambassadors I:1," for Book First, Chapter 1. The post will contain nothing but pungent quotations from the text. In other words, I will turn over the posts to Henry James, and comment on the novels just like everybody else.

This ought to work out so that any reader can join the discussion at any time. Simply scroll to the "chapter" that  you're reading and say what you have to say. I'll send notifications of new comments to subscribers. If you'd like to receive notifications, simply enter your e-mail address in the "Subscribe" box on the sidebar, below right.

Extra Further Thinking: Although I am, after all, me (to tweak slightly my favorite line from Working Girl - and who could have said it but Sigourney Weaver?), I shall not be the first to comment on a chapter. In other words, After you, Alphonse. As soon as a comment appears in a "chapter" post here, I shall upload a post for the following chapter. Und so weiter.

Amy asks if we can't read something else, namely, The Princess Casamassima. That's a good idea for another Henry James Read, the Christina Light novels, of which the earlier is Roderick Hudson. We shall eventually read all of Henry James.

Meanwhile, this site isn't just about reading Henry James, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. There will be postings about other things scattered among the James Readings. To see the Ambassadors postings by themselves, click on the Ambassadors link under categories. To tell a friend about the reading, however, I suggest that you send this post's permalink. This is where I'll do the housekeeping and secretarial. 

There is no schedule. Nor is there a standard. This is a reading, not a critical analysis - although critical analysis will never be unwelcome. Start small; if you've read the novel before, venture a comment on the extract at the top of the post, about Strether's "double consciousness." My only advice is a bit of wisdom that I learned on the listservs: remember that other's can't see your face or hear your voice. You words are carrying the whole show. Try to make sure that jokes and jests don't need identifying emoticons. Henry James would have hated emoticons. (Although the argument could be made that his novels would be much easier to read with their support.)

You may begin now.

Posted by pourover at 12:19 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack