Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, July 17, 2020

Madame de Mauves - A Set in Paris novella by Henry James - originally published in The Galaxy Magazine in 1874

Madame de Mauves - A Set in Paris novella by Henry James - originally published in The Galaxy magazine in 1874

Paris in July 2020 - Hosted by Thyme for Tea

Beauty is a Sleeping Caf’s Post on Madame de Mauves

  1. “Forain” - a set in Paris Short Story by Mavis Gallant
    2. “Winter Rain” - a Short story by Alice Adams about an American woman living in Paris after World War Two
    3. Marc Chagall by Jonathan Wilson
    4. Missing Person by Patrick Modiano
    5. “Sisters” by Elizabeth Taylor
    6. Ambition and Desire:The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams
Born April 15, 1843 - New York, New York

From 1855 to 1860 The James Family traveled in Europe,where his father had business interests.  For at least two years he lived in Paris.  He became fluent in French.

1869 to 1870. Travels on his own in Europe. He  worked for a brief period as the Paris Correspondent for The New York Tribune.

In 1869 he moves to London, he will become an English citizen.  In 1875 he moves to Paris for a year.  In Paris he meets Zola, Turgenev and Guy de Maupassant.among others.

1884- he visits Paris again, deeping his literary contacts

1885 returns to London

Dies February 1916 (aged 72); London

Paris was very important to Henry James.  His work often deals with the contrast of Americans to Europeans.  Paris was above all else representative of the depth of European culture versus the newness of America.Americans were seen as naive, Parisians as decadent.  To me his The Ambassadors (1903) is the quintessential American in  Paris novel.

A  pedagoical sterotype of James is that his early works are much easier to read than works of his later years.  Madame de Mauves is an early work. The story centers on the marriage of a morally upright faithful to her vows American woman to a French man who has no respect for the marriage, making no effort to hide  his affairs. She is rich and he married her for her money. He is the Comte de Mauves, a count.  Many an American heiress were drawn into European marriages by titles.

The central character, Longmore, an American man on a long visit to Paris, is introduced to Madame de Mauves, the American woman, by her close Parisian friend.

She tells Longmore that Madame de Mauves badly needs a friend, a confidant.  They gradually develop a close relationship.  Longmore falls in love with her but she makes it clear she wants only friendship.   Gradually he gets to know her husband,the Comte de Mauves and his sister, the crass widow Madame de Clairin.  They encourage him to have an affair with Madame de Mauves, which would allow her husband under conventions of Paris high society, free to have affairs.

He declines to pursue this option.  He returns to New York City and meanwhile husband falls in  love with his wife and deeply regrets The pain he has caused her.

There is a shocking turn of events at the close.

Read through the lenses of forty more years of very prolific works and a knowledge of his life, one can see this as an early study of unconsumated relationships of men to women they loved, or could have loved had they been able to let go.


beautyisasleepingcat said...

Thank you so much for the link. I love the titles you’ve chosen to read for this event.
I need to read The Ambassadors.
I hope you’ll like the Wharton novella too.

Jeanie said...

I haven't read James for decades and not this one. Thanks for the good write up. I may check this one out.

Lisbeth said...

I love Henry James. This sounds like a typical story by him, and I will look for it. One day I will go through his very thick books.