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The American

Henry James

Book Overview: 

One of James’s early novels, The American plunges right in to one of the writer’s most enduring subjects, that of the innocent, or at least inexperienced, American abroad, seeking to come to terms with the social customs and conventions of an old European aristocracy. The aptly named Christopher Newman, having made a small fortune from business in California, has come to the Old World for the first time, determined to enlarge his experience by learning all he can of it. In Paris he meets an old acquaintance, Tom Tristram, who (though he himself has little interest in educating himself about Europe) shows him around, and introduces him to the young widow Claire de Cintre, whose family – the aristocratic de Bellegardes – distrust his American brashness and commercialism. Claire, nonetheless, agrees to marry him, thus pulling Newman, rather more deeply than he is prepared for, into a society that closely guards its secrets, and forcing him to face new and quite unexpected questions.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .East, and keep rolling the names of Eastern cities under my tongue: Damascus and Bagdad, Medina and Mecca. I spent a week last month in the company of a returned missionary, who told me I ought to be ashamed to be loafing about Europe when there are such big things to be seen out there. I do want to explore, but I think I would rather explore over in the Rue de l'Universite. Do you ever hear from that pretty lady? If you can get her to promise she will be at home the next time I call, I will go back to Paris straight. I am more than ever in the state of mind I told you about that evening; I want a first-class wife. I have kept an eye on all the pretty girls I have come across this summer, but none of them came up to my notion, or anywhere near it. I should have enjoyed all this a thousand times more if I had had the lady just mentioned by my side. The nearest approach to her was a Unitarian minister from Boston, who very soon demanded a separation, for incompatibility of . . . Read More

Community Reviews


On a lovely day in May, 1868, Christopher Newman, a wealthy American businessman, sits down in the Louvre with an aesthetic headache, having seen too many paintings.
A young Parisian copyist, Noémie Nioche, catches his eye, and he agrees to buy the painting

Christopher Newman has it all
He’s young he’s rich he’s six-feet tall
He doesn’t beat about the bush
He never feels the need to rush

In Europe’s old museum towns
Or far across yon English downs
You’ll see him stretching his long legs
Asking for the price of eggs

He seldom gets mad or upset
He doesn’t gamble

O carte splendida de moravuri, specialitatea maestrului Henry James. Fiind o admiratoare a realismului psihologic, pe care autorul il reprezinta atat de bine, am cautat sa citesc cat mai multe dintre cartile scrise de el. Asa am aflat ca cealalta opera a sa, "Europenii", reprezinta un roman in oglin

An American millionaire businessman arrives in Paris, Christopher Newman in 1868, to get "Culture," find the perfect wife after all he's 36 and lonely... while walking through the gigantic Louvre museum the tired man sits down, he views the magnificent paintings surrounding him on the walls. Newman

A Mid-Nineteenth Century American In Paris

Christopher Newman, 36, an American who has become wealthy in commerce and manufacturing following the Civil War, is the hero, in "The American", an early novel by Henry James. Most of the story is set in France in the late 1860s as Newman, vaguely dissatisf

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