Book Review: Daisy Miller and Other Stories by Henry James
Since there were four stories in this volume I've chosen to give a brief synopsis and review on all of them. Emphasis on brief.
Time period for all the stories are late 1800's. Most of the setting for the stories are on board ship, either traveling to Europe or to America.
Daisy Miller published 1878.
~~~Daisy Miller is a young American woman who is traveling in Europe with her mother and young brother. An American man who has been living in Europe for several years (and has adapted to the culture) meets her brother first and then Daisy. He is instantly smitten with her looks and intrigued by her demeanor. Daisy is the billboard image of the slang term "American Girl." She is original, not refined and educated, new money, independent, does not think about her difference in the light of what other's might think. This view will be carried on throughout several of Henry James's stories.
~~~I loved this story. It is a comparison of American Girl versus European Girl. The stark differences in culture, environment, status, education, speech which includes grammar, and etiquette.
It is comical. Several times I laughed at the slight fun the narrator (we don't know his name only that he is a young male student living in Europe) has with Daisy.
It is a story of a study in human behavior.
Pandora published 1884
~~~Pandora Day is the name of an American young woman that a German Count meets on board ship to America. Count Otto Vogelstein is moving to America, he has been recently appointed to German litigation at Washington D.C. Count Otto is a studier of people. The reader views through his eyes traveling on board a ship, the immigrants in steerage, the people who work on the ship, the wealthy passengers, traveling at sea, docking the ship, unloading of the ship, customs. Count Otto is smitten with Pandora. Pandora is considered to be independent minded, an original American Girl.
~~~I loved this story as well. It gave me a lesson in traveling aboard a steam ship in the late 19th century.
The Patagonia published 1888
~~~The Patagonia is the name of the steam ship that a Mrs. Nettlepoint and her son Jasper will be traveling on to Europe. While on the ship Jasper meets a woman named Miss Grace Mavis. The have conversations and minor flirting. The passengers are consumed with gossip on this couple.
~~~Another good story. Certainly a lesson on assumptions, and gossip that comes from assumptions. This is the Victorian age of restrictions on behavior. When people did not abide by these rules, they were ostracized and presumed guilty.
Four Meetings published 1877
~~~These literal Four Meetings were of a man and woman meeting. They were friends. He encouraged her to travel to Europe. She tried. He was dumbfounded by the result.
~~I had to pay particular close attention to the reading of this story to catch the subtlety of what was really going on. As I've stated before this was an age of extreme politeness, and things were just not said (that maybe should have been said.) People made assumptions, they rarely asked questions, and tried to mind their own business. It is a good story, but watch for what was not said.
|Born 15 April 1843---Died 28 February 1916|
Published under Oxford World's Classics 2009
19th Century/Short Stories/Victorian Period/A Victorian Celebration June and July 2012/The Classics Club
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