When Henry James wrote Acts, he was already a writer in full maturity and completeness of literary greatness. This is a round-the-clock story that will fully satisfy the demanding writer who considers it his most valuable novel. With Pigeon Wings written a year ago and the Golden Cup a year later, James completed as his main achievement an extraordinary narrative trio that opened the door to the modern novel and established new narrative canons. All of this continued throughout the 20th century, some laws that only a few managed to overcome, like James Joyce or William Faulkner.
As a story that keeps the genre up-to-date, Alba Editorial: The Golden Cup, The American, The Newspapers, The Wings of the Dove… which has previously published James’ best books now presents a new edition of The Ambassadors. Engaging adding value to the story alongside Miguel Temprano’s meticulous translation.
The ambassadors have few clear plans: Lambert Strether, a widowed middle-aged American, is sent to pick up her son Chad from Paris by his fiancee, the wealthy and widowed Mrs. Newsome. relationship with an inappropriate woman. As Miss Newsome’s trusted ambassador, Strether’s job is to persuade Chad to return to Woollett, Massachusetts, where the family business needs him. Strether confidently believes his mission is noble and necessary. If successful, he will marry Miss Newsome.
But when he arrives in Paris, Strether marvels at the beauty of the city, the freedom it offers, and the people he meets. When he meets Chad, it leads him to think that from his sophistication, from the elite environment in which he operates, the boy has gained a lot since he was in the French capital. As Strether spends more time in Europe, he becomes encouraged by his culture and sees this having a positive effect on Chad. He begins to doubt the merits of sending Chad to Woollett, where he will become a member of the Massachusetts state business community.
Chad takes him into the culturally and socially elite circles of Paris, and these impressions of Parisian culture lead Strether to think he may have missed the best of life while living in Woollett. Thus, he gets caught up in enjoying the charms of Paris, which causes him to change his mind and try to prevent Chad from returning to the United States. James discusses the differences between Woollett and Paris, telling the story of Strether’s growing awareness of Chad’s situation and his own situation. Although it was he who finally rejected a marriage proposal from Maria Gostrey and returned to the United States.
James’ portrait of Paris becomes an attractive symbol of the beauty and suffering of European culture. American by birth and British and European by birth, James does not make Paris the perfect paradise for Americans, but instead learns to present each model of life: European and American based on his virtues and prejudices. Still, this may undoubtedly be the most European of all Henry James’ novels.
Evaluating its structure, it must be said that Ambassadors is one of his best novels in terms of narrative fiction. James attached great importance to this. There are no loose ends; The whole story was carefully put together. His mastery lies in his narrative technique, which is varied and adaptable to any environment. As with James, he has a good mastery of form over content, although James is careful not to spoil the theme.
But above all, what made Henry James an important writer at the literary dawn of the 20th century is that modern fiction began with him, envisioning masters like James Joyce or William Faulkner. And certainly The Ambassadors is one of the clearest examples of modern fiction, in which James introduces the cutting-edge narrative techniques that the novel will set in the 20th century: the use of several narrators, complex sentences, literal use of dialogue, psychological description. indirect narration of the characters…
As in other stories, James is not ashamed to prioritize form and style, leaving plot secondary, but he never neglects it. Every word matters here. This was partly because, like Flaubert, he was obsessed with finding the right word, his vocabulary extremely measured and meticulous.
The modernity of James and The Ambassadors is the reason why the novel is so thoroughly contemporary today that it continues to appear as the antithesis and antidote to contemporary narratives, which, because of its technique and narrative model, are heavily influenced by visual and cinematographic elements. culture. In contrast, James tells us that authentic culture is artistic.