New York: Harper & Brothers, 1878. First Edition. 32mo. 94 pp. (including integral 4-page advertisements for Harper's Half-Hour Series) + 2 pp. at end (advertisements for Wilkie Collins and Thackeray). Contemporary brown linen cloth, leather spine label (defective); paper stock toned; browning on first page of advertisements from offsetting of tipped on half-sheet; pencil scribbles on front endpaper; decorative pastedowns and endpapers. Very good. Item #3660
Henry James's "An International Episode" is partly a response to THIS little satire on American manners in New York City, which James rewrote from an American (instead of a "foreign") point of view. James was exasperated with the author's treatment of the New York "haut monde." In his 1878 review of "The Tender Recollections of Irene Macgillicuddy" (The Nation, 30 May 1878), James conceded that there were American social types, and "a considerable field for satire."
James was "sardonic about the portrait of the young American female in which 'the great feature of New York fashion' was evinced as 'the eagerness and energy displayed by marriageable maidens in what is vulgarly called "hooking" a member of the English aristocracy.'" (SOURCE: Ian F. A. Bell, "Displays of the Female: Formula and Flirtation in 'Daisy Miller'" in: Henry James: The Shorter Fiction, 1997, p. 17).
"Tender Recollections" was -- in the words of Henry James -- "worth noting as an attempt, which has evidently made a hit, to portray from a foreign point of view the manners of New York." James continues:
"The freedom and the 'smartness' of the young ladies, and the part played by married men of a certain age in bringing them out, guiding their steps in society, presiding at their debut in the 'German,' entertaining them at evening repasts at Delmonico's -- these points had already been more or less successfully treated upon. But the great feature of New York fashion, as represented in this little satire in Blackwood, is the eagerness and energy displayed by marriageable maidens in what is vulgarly called "hooking" a member of the English aristocracy. The desire to connect itself by matrimony with the British nobility would seem to be, in the author's eyes, the leading characteristic of the New York 'great world.' A corresponding desire on the part of the British aristocracy not to become so connected, appears to complete the picture."
"Nevertheless, 'Tender Recollections' struck James as having a certain value in so far as it indicated the direction in which other, more gifted, authors might proceed in writing of American 'society.'" (SOURCE: Howell Daniels, "Henry James and 'An International Episode'" in: British Association for American Studies Bulletin, New Series, No. 1, Sept. 1960, p. 14).
The author of the novel, diplomat / Christian mystic Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888), was born in South Africa, but
traveled widely throughout his colorful life. The work was serialized in Blackwood's Magazine (1878); this is the first and only edition in book form.
From the Dorothy Sloan Collection.
FURTHER LITERATURE: J. W. Tuttleton, "Propriety and Fine Perception: James's 'The Europeans'" (in: The Modern Language Review, July 1978, Vol. 73, No. 3).