Victorians! discussion

80 views
Archived Group Reads 2012 > Aspern Papers Background Material (Spoilers Possible)

Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by SarahC (last edited Oct 02, 2012 07:53AM) (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 1436 comments Post pertinent Henry James information here. Spoilers may be found, especially if links are included.


message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Our story in other media:

"In 1962, The Aspern Papers was adapted for the stage by Michael Redgrave and successfully produced on Broadway. Wendy Hiller and Maurice Evans played the lead roles. The play has been revived a number of times since the original production.

"In 1988 the Dallas Opera presented the world premiere of Dominick Argento's opera The Aspern Papers.

"The 1947 film The Lost Moment was based on The Aspern Papers. It starred Susan Hayward as Miss Tina and Robert Cummings as the narrator.

"On the 26th of April, 2010, BBC Radio 4 began broadcasting an abridged audio version of 'The Aspern Papers', in their Book at Bedtime slot. It was read by Samuel West."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Aspe...

I found it fascinating to have been considered even as material for the basis of an opera!

This same source indicates "James thought so highly of this story that he put it first in volume 12 of The New York Edition, ahead of even The Turn of the Screw."


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments I find this comment on James to be useful in considering our narrator in TAP:

"His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allows him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_James

I recently read The Wings of the Dove (1902), which I found tough going, although I came to love it, not for its story but for its challenge as art, as literature. as a window into the author's mind. Now, it is quite fascinating to be reading The Aspern Papers (1888), also written at the top of James's skills, but some fourteen years earlier in conception and so much more straightforward in construction and sentence structure. Yet, it is helping me feel I have perceived an evolution in thought and observation of the world.


message 4: by Denise (last edited Oct 02, 2012 01:04PM) (new)

Denise (Dulcinea3) | 402 comments I have never read any of James' novels, although I believe that Washington Square, which I have read, is considered a short novel. I have two different volumes of his short works, with some overlap. In the introduction to the edition in which I am reading The Aspern Papers, the included works other than Washington Square are described as "nouvelles", and the author of the introductions believes that it is in this form that James shines the most. I don't have time now, but perhaps I will transcribe the passages regarding the differences that were important to James between the short novel and the nouvelle.

It may actually be due to the different purposes that James had in writing in different forms that you are noting. This specifically speaks about the "short novel" form, and he may have had still different aims in his longer novels.


message 5: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Denise wrote: "It may actually be due to the different purposes that James had in writing in different forms that you are noting...."

That may be part of it, Denise. He certainly wrote about the structure of writing as well as wrote in multiple forms. But I think I am trying to express something different, more like looking at one's self and observing how one thought about something in one's mid-forties versus how one might consider the same situation by late fifties. There will be continuities, but there are likely to be differences as well, if one has been fortunate enough to live deeply and broadly.


message 6: by Lily (last edited Oct 02, 2012 03:34PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments "James really did believe in his famous 'house of fiction' image, where writers looked at life from different windows and thus returned interestingly varied reports. He liked to get at reports very dissimilar to his own, as the easiest way to gain an 'extension of life.'"

From the Wiki article on his Notes on Novelists with Some Other Notes by Henry James (1914)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notes_on...

I guess I'm suggesting he managed to look through both the same and different windows across his lifetime and return "interestingly varied reports" for his readers -- yet with perhaps more elements of continuity than from those dissimilar ones that provided James' "extension of life." (Rather like we do here for ourselves, with our varied reading?)


message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments This link is about the supposed inspiration for the poet Aspern (definitely not an American). I'm going to put this in spoiler format, but if you are so inclined, I suggest reading through the section on this poet's marriages and romances. I am stunned to realize he died at thirty. I'm not sure I believe he can be the inspiration for Aspern, so I am going to have to do some further digging. Story to be continued.

(view spoiler)


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMVjMG...

Above is a YouTube trailer for another film based on The Aspern Papers. It is filmed in Venezuela.


message 9: by Lily (last edited Oct 05, 2012 03:47PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Lily wrote: " I'm not sure I believe he can be the inspiration for Aspern, so I am going to have to do some further digging...."

See the review of our story by Nanalla here:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21...

She expands on and complicates the tale that was the inspiration for this story.

I am also sympathetic to the review of Ben Loory on the same link.


message 10: by Lily (last edited Oct 14, 2012 05:44PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Below is a close duplicate of a post I made on the Chapter 8-9 thread. I believe discussion and reactions might be more appropriate here than in a main line thread regarding the chapters of the book.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10...

For a modern day Aspern story -- with some significant differences. I am ...post[ing] this in the research thread ... and suggest that any discussion go ..here..., but this story of a Gustav Mahler photo seemed parallel enough to what we are reading to call our attention to it... I originally read the story in the NYT (paper copy) this past week, an indulgence of mine on days when Internet access is not readily available.


message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments More a sidebar than background, but the NYT had this article Sunday with its lovely painting from Venice -- of a time much earlier than our story:

"A painting of 17th-century Venice, with a view of the banks of the Grand Canal and the Doge’s Palace, by Leandro Bassano."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opi...


message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Henry James in Venice, a few notes:

http://www.stanford.edu/~evans/Venice...


message 13: by Lily (last edited Oct 15, 2012 09:41AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments "Is Juliana Bordereau of Henry James's The Aspern Papers an instance of the material supplement standing in for the ideal origin Aspern, a symptom of a cultural anxiety about American cultural backwardness, a phallic mother, a commodified object of exchange between men, a pivotal figure in an erotic triangle, or something quite different?" Julie Rivkin

Tantalizing question from a course on literary theory:

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&...

"...Although these multiple theoretical optics can occasionally produce vertigo on the part of students who wish for a stable truth, or ennui on the part of those who grow impatient with re-reading the same text, the effect is mainly one of unfolding illuminations, as The Aspern Papers shows itself to be so perfectly amenable to (or productive of) a range of interpretations...."


message 14: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments James, "The Aspern Papers," and the Ethics of Literary Biography by Gary Scharnhorst

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/mfs/summ...

Hmm -- this article argues for Hawthorne, not Shelley, as the inspiration for Aspern.


message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2552 comments Lily wrote: ""Is Juliana Bordereau of Henry James's The Aspern Papers an instance of the material supplement standing in for the ideal origin Aspern, a symptom of a cultural anxiety about American cultural backwardness, a phallic mother, a commodified object of exchange between men, a pivotal figure in an erotic triangle, or something quite different?" Julie Rivkin"

Tantalizing question? Or merely an indication of the absurd lengths to which literary criticism goes these days?

Juliana as a phallic mother????? What on earth could that possibly mean, and how can the story be at all reasonably read with that interpretation, if we even get any idea what it means, in mind?

I'm tempted to start a discussion on the most absurd theoretically possible interpretations of this story we can come up with.

For example, the NN represents a 19th century Odysseus and the papers represent the bridal bed on Ithaca which he strives to reach against all odds, since they seem to be as desirable (and as out of reach) to him as sex is to most men.

Or, the story is an allegory to man's striving after the moon (wasn't this written after H.G. Wells?), that goal which men of adventure wish for but never (at that time, at least) could achieve?

Are these any less plausible than Julianna as a phallic mother? Any LitCrit department read to hire me??


message 16: by Lily (last edited Oct 15, 2012 11:16AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments I'm glad I posted that just to get this reaction from you! :-D

I know a bit about your views on current literary criticism!

I've no debts to literary academia, except where they have been inspirational to my own reading (still undecided whether this one qualified), but I can relate to James having left behind tracts vulnerable to variable interpretations.

(Don't forget that Claire brought their daughter Allegra to Lord Byron in Venice in 1818. Biographers would also like to know if she bore a child for Shelley himself.)


message 17: by Lily (last edited Oct 15, 2012 11:09AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments OOps -- I must have closed another window without posting this link, which may be as imaginative as "phallic mother" (grin) -- and not as light to read, comparing The Aspern Papers and Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables:

http://escholarship.ucop.edu/uc/item/...

Explores (or at least tries to) international culture and literary allusions and themes, perhaps.


message 18: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2552 comments Lily wrote: "I'm glad I posted that just to get this reaction from you! :-D"

Always my pleasure to bring you pleasure!


message 19: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 1436 comments I have fallen so behind already, but can't wait to look at these links tomorrow to follow this conversation.


message 20: by Lily (last edited Oct 15, 2012 09:44PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Everyman wrote: "Lily wrote: "I'm glad I posted that just to get this reaction from you! :-D"

Always my pleasure to bring you pleasure!"


LOL!

(And to think that I didn't even do it deliberately -- Post 13 as provocation, that is!)


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2552 comments Off Topic:

Especially for Lily and her LitCrit thinking (you know I love you, Lily!), but will make sense to anybody who's read Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener.





message 22: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 1277 comments Everyman wrote: "Off Topic:

Especially for Lily and her LitCrit thinking (you know I love you, Lily!), but will make sense to anybody who's read Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener."


Can't relate to Melville's BTS, but the speaker here could be James, except one could claim, after all, that's what his writing and books are ALL about, if we as readers could only decipher. (The love is mutual, Eman! I like to think we occasionally keep each other on our best--or worst--behavior. lol!)


message 23: by Denise (new)

Denise (Dulcinea3) | 402 comments Great cartoon, Everyman!

It is great to discuss literature with new friends who bring their own unique points of view, but at the same time there is a kind of comfort in also discussing with people you have known for what seems like many years!


message 24: by Becky (last edited Oct 17, 2012 06:16PM) (new)

Becky | 174 comments I laughed very hard at the BTS comic. One of my favorite novellas from Melville. It was actually the first time I realized I loved Victorian literature, it was assigned reading in high school and I was the only one that actually laughed out loud at Dickens witticisms, and thus a love was born.

Speaking of litcrit, I've been so fascinated by The Turn of the Screw that I've been reading a lot of essay on it. I have t say that some people reach MUCH too far, and I find it laughable.

I have a particular problem with Freud in litcrit. Freudians just read an insane amount of tension into the smallest things, like a description of a salad fork (the prongs must be phallus right? and an oral fixation? it cant *just* be a fork), however, Freud was so huge that I have to wonder if the authors were influenced by his work and were purposely placing Freudian clues in their works. So are we reading into it, or is it there? Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing :)


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2552 comments Becky wrote: "I laughed very hard at the BTS comic. One of my favorite novellas from Dickens. ..."

I know you knew it was actually Melville, not Dickens, and just had a temporary brain burp (I get more and more of those as I get older, too) but I thought I should mention that in case others go looking for it and get confused not being able to find it in Dickens's work.


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2552 comments Becky wrote: "Speaking of litcrit, I've been so fascinated by The Turn of the Screw that I've been reading a lot of essay on it. I have t say that some people reach MUCH too far, and I find it laughable."

I have my own theory of modern litcrit, which is basically that in order to get and keep a professorship you need to publish and keep publishing, but there is very little intelligent and insightful to say about literature that hasn't been said over and over before, so it becomes necessary to develop wilder and yet wilder theories and speculations in order to find something new to say.

(An offshoot of this is that PhD candidates have to dig up obscurer and obscurer authors to write about because really, what else can you say about Austen that makes any sense at all that many somebodies haven't already said?)


message 27: by Becky (new)

Becky | 174 comments I edited my post, it was a brain burp. We're in the process of moving from NC to NE, I'm a bit scattered :)

I largely agree with your theory on professorship... that I dont mind the unearthing of obscure authors!


back to top