Updated with a few pics from my recent trip to France Im a bit afraid of Henry James. Reading this book which until a few weeks ago I didnt even know existed - has given me a whole new appreciation for James writing. I love that Henry James went on literary pilgrimages, one of my favourite travel activities. I may not have enjoyed reading this delightful work quite so much if I'd not recently completed my own little tour in France, covering some of the same territory James covered more than 130 years ago. Remembering those places Id visited such a short time ago certainly enriched the reading experience. I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband, marveling at how similar James experiences of particular places had been to our own and at how much more skilled he was at describing those experiences.
Locations 63-65: The most interesting fact, to my mind, about the high-street of Tours was that as you walked toward the bridge on the right-hand trottoir you can look up at the house, on the other side of the way, in which Honore de Balzac first saw the light. Begun in 1170, it was finished only in the first half of the sixteenth century; Locations 246-249: If you come down to Tours from Paris, your best economy is to spend a few days at Blois, where a clumsy, but rather attractive little inn, on the edge of the river, will offer you a certain amount of that familiar and intermittent hospitality which a few weeks spent in the French provinces teaches you to regard as the highest attainable form of accommodation. Locations 255-256: The Chateau de Blois is one of the most beautiful and elaborate of all the old royal residences of this part of France, and I suppose it should have all the honors of my description. Locations 1009-1010: Here (Cathedral of Le Mans) is the house of Queen Berengaria, - an absurd name, as the building is of a date some three hundred years later than the wife of Richard Coeur de Lion, who has a sepulchral monument in the south aisle of the cathedral. Locations 1143-1146: The chateau (Nantes) is naturally not wanting in history. Locations 1154-1155: The man who showed me the castle in- dicated also another historic spot, a house with little tourelles, on the Quai de la Fosse, in which Henry IV. Locations 1334-1335: The lion of Poitiers, in the eyes of the natives, is doubtless the Palais de Justice, in the shadow of which the statue-guarded hotel, Locations 1405-1406: For the rest, Bordeaux is a big, rich, handsome, imposing com- mercial town, with long rows of fine old eighteenth- century houses, which overlook the yellow Garonne.
Opening: We good Americans - I say it without presumption - are too apt to think that France is Paris, just as we are accused of being too apt to think that Paris is the celestial city. To this end he started, one rainy morning in mid-Septem- ber, for the charming little city of Tours, from which point it seemed possible to make a variety of fruitful excursions.
Originally published in 1882, James takes the reader on a tour beginning at Tours (birthplace of Balzac), and on several excursions to the chateau of the Loire, Blois, Chambord and Chenonceaux.
Juxtaposing these images of France with modern day France is a delightful process and one I would be interested to hear James's views on if he were writing today.
His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allowed him to explore the phenomena of consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting.