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Henry James Goes to War


Edited By Miroslawa Buchholtz, Dorota Guttfeld and Grzegorz Koneczniak

Within the past decades, Henry James has been seen going to the movies and to Paris, both far more likely destinations for him than battlefields of the modern world. Sending him off to war seems to be a preposterous idea, but the exaggeration inscribed in the title of the present volume is meant to stress the historicity of wars and battles underlying James’s life and work, quite apart from conflict on which literature thrives at all times. The book consists of five parts devoted to various forms and aspects of conflict. It deals with both literal and metaphorical battles of which the author was aware or in which he was involved. Apart from addressing James’s attitude to two major conflicts, the Civil War and World War One, the articles range from critical discussions of James’s biography, criticism, and fiction, to studies of the intertextual connections between his œuvre and works of both past and present authors.
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Henry James and Soldiers during World War I: Four Letters


Katie Sommer, Associate Editor, The Complete Letters of Henry James, The Center for Henry James Studies

Among the James family papers at the Center for Henry James Studies at Creighton University are four letters written not by Henry James, but by soldiers to James during the first months of World War I.

There are many interesting things about these letters. First, the men who wrote them were ordinary English soldiers. One was a carpenter by trade; another was a chauffeur. They were sappers and privates and it is apparent from the way they write that they have had little formal education. Second is that James kept them, when the amount of letters that he kept through his entire life is minuscule compared to the amount he received and wrote, and at this time of his life he was in the habit of destroying most of the correspondence he received. But perhaps the most notable thing about these letters is that they provide a firsthand account of James’s activity with and feelings toward active duty soldiers during the Great War. James was an elderly man at the outbreak of war, but these letters, when read with others, clearly show how he went to great physical, financial, and emotional lengths to fully participate in World War I and, more specifically, to help soldiers who were convalescing in London.

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