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American Scene

A Very Brief Reader’s Guide for Henry James’ American Scene

I recently read a section of Henry James’ travelogue The American Scene (1907) with students in a course I teach called “International Vistas: the U.S. Viewed from Abroad.” The book is under-appreciated among historians. James’ thoughts on white Southern Americans and the memory of the Civil War is remarkably sophisticated, for example. His take American architecture in New York is wonderful (no surprise there). My students found the James who appears in the text baffling for his elaborate prose, so we had fun translating it. It rewards careful, slow reading. He takes everything in.Here are some translations of parts of Read more