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Henry James Goes to War

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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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“Our Murdered Civilization”: Echoes of the Great War in Henry James’s Correspondence and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

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Alicja Piechucka, University of Łódź

Introduction

The very analogies between the circumstances of Henry James’s and T. S. Eliot’s lives provide good grounds for comparative analysis. The two authors were Americans who chose to live in Britain and ultimately took British citizenship, thereby acquiring the status of “transatlantic” men of letters who belong to two literary traditions: American and British. They gained a reputation for cosmopolitanism, sophistication and a keen interest in high culture, which translated themselves into their writings. They were inextricably linked with literary modernism: James as a precursor and Eliot as a leading representative. Noting the somewhat surprising scarcity of comparative studies of James and Eliot, Milton Reigelman adds a few more parallels to the above list. They include James and Eliot having been “raised by remarkable American families, […] attended Harvard, spent a crucial year in Paris,” which resulted in being “heavily influenced by French literature, […] wr[itten] important literary criticism, turned to drama in their later careers, […] founded a new kind of literature marked by interior monologue and shifting points of view” (Reigelman 2012: 5). There are also the James-Eliot trivia: they lived in the same London building, albeit not at the same time (Reigelman 2012: 5), “died childless in London after a long career. And as a final, ironic gesture of togetherness, were both cremated at Golders Green Crematorium” (Reigelman 2012: 6).

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