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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Short studies of American authors 4 4 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life 1 1 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Oldport days, with ten heliotype illustrations from views taken in Newport, R. I., expressly for this work. 1 1 Browse Search
The Daily Dispatch: April 10, 1863., [Electronic resource] 1 1 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life, Chapter 1: discontinuance of the guide-board (search)
reader. All really strong novels involving illicit love are necessarily tragedies at last, not vaudevilles; and nowhere is this more true than in French literature. The clever woman who said that nothing was worse than French immorality except French morality, simply failed to go below the surface; for in France the family feeling is so potent that the actual destruction of the domestic tie is often punished with cruel severity, even by the most tolerant novelists. The retribution in Madame Bovary, for instance, is almost too merciless, since it wreaks itself even upon the body of the poor sinner after death, and pursues her unoffending child to the poorhouse. No one has painted a climax of unlawful passion more terrific than that portrayed in the closing pages of Monsieur de Camors, the guilty pair, false to every human obligation, successful in their wishes to their own destruction, numinibus vota exandita malignis, detached by their crime from all the world and finally from on
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Short studies of American authors, Helen Jackson. ( H. H. ) (search)
s showed the hand of Saxe Holm, the occasional verses that of H. H. Both novels brought a certain disappointment: they had obvious power, but were too painful to be heartily enjoyed. After all, the public mind is rather repelled by a tragedy, since people wish to be made happy. Great injustice has been done by many critics, I think, to Hetty's strange history. While its extraordinary power is conceded, it has been called morbid and immoral; yet it is as stern a tale of retribution as Madame Bovary or The scarlet letter. We rarely find in fiction any severity of injustice meted out to a wrong act done from noble motives. In Jean Paul's Siebenkas the husband feigns death in order that his wife may find happiness without him: he succeeds in his effort, and is at last made happy himself. In Hetty's strange history the wife effaces herself with precisely the same object,--for her husband's sake: but the effort fails; the husband is not made happy by her absence, and when they are re
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Short studies of American authors, Henry James, Jr. (search)
when, in criticising some well-known book, he misses its special points of excellence. Take, for instance, his remarks on that masterly and repulsive novel, Madame Bovary. To say of the author of that work that his theory as a novelist, briefly expressed, is to begin at the outside, French Poets and Novelists, p. 256. seemsovelists, p. 265. and treats it as a mere episode of doubtful value, whereas it is absolutely essential to the working-out of the plot. The situation is this: Madame Bovary is being crushed to the earth by living in a social vacuum, with a stupid husband whom she despises, and has already deceived. She has just felt a twinge of d of the bearing of this incident; Elle demeurait fort embarrasse dans sa velleite de sacrifice, quand l'apothecaire vint à propos lui fournir une occasion. Madame Bovary, p. 210. but his precaution seems needless, the thing explains itself. It is one of the strongest and clearest passages in the whole tragedy, and it seems as
they still may hold a promise for the next generation. Out of the strong cometh forth sweetness. Parisian wickedness is not so discouraging merely because it is wicked, as from a suspicion that it is draining the life-blood of the nation. A mob of miners or of New York bullies may be uncomfortable neighbors, and may make a man of refinement hesitate whether to stop his ears or to feel for his revolver; but they hold more promise for the coming generations than the line which ends in Madame Bovary or the Vicomte de Camors. But behind that cottage curtain, at any rate, a new and prophetic life had begun. I cannot foretell that child's future, but I know something of its past. The boy may grow up into a criminal, the woman into an outcast, yet the baby was beloved. It came not in utter nakedness. It found itself heir of the two prime essentials of existence,--life and love. Its first possession was a woman's kiss; and in that heritage the most important need of its career wa
raggart glistened like a rising sun. The Princess Gabriella (sugus the Bonaparte) was in Syrian costume. The Princess de Matternich in Eight, illuminated with diamonds. The Countless Walewski in Amazon Louis X. V., powdered hair, corn colored robe, gold buttons. The Belle I alien Countess Castiglione, dressed in a costume remarkable for its want of costume, was the hit of the evening. She was dressed as "Selammbo," copied from the new Carthaginian romance of Gustave Faubert author of Madame Bovary. Marked arms and shoulders, short dress, and feet naked in sandals, dress of black velvet, falling straight, with a long train, which latter was borne by the young Count de Choiseul, who in turn, had his face blackened to represent an Egyptian page, and who, besides carrying the train of the famous daughter of Hamilear, held over her head an umbrella of the genuine Robinson Crusoe dimensions. The superb Carthagenoize were on her head a diadem of gold; her robe, which was without a