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3. The Jolly Corner - Henry James

Appunti esaustivi e sufficienti al superamento dell'esame di Lingue e Culture Angloamericane di Roberto Cagliero, presi a lezione, sul testo di Henry James "The Jolly Corner". Università degli Studi di Verona - Univr. Scarica il file in formato PDF!

Esame di Lingue e Letteratura Angloamericana docente Prof. R. Cagliero



sintony). When Alice arrives, she doesn't give no more details to understand what has happened, she only

gives another metaphorical figure.

According to James, Literature has to be symbolic/metaphoric. Literature does not have direct access to

reality, and James takes this idea all the way down because the protagonist does not show anything literal –

he gives description with metaphorical way (description of real thing).

• Strange Figure* (lo strano personaggio) – James plays with words (figures).

- Figure of speech: strana figura retorica e quindi viene descritta in termini retorici e realistici.

- Conti: significato meno comune – personaggio che va a fare i conti con la storia.

- Individual – numbers (money – life of his family).

[*Figure = many meanings in the story]

It's a story of an individual who is told through figures of speech, because he never allowed to have direct

visions, and also a story of NY, of money. JAMES vs POE

James in the first part of his career talked enthusiastic about Poe, in a good way but towards his life he

changed idea, at the end he thought Poe wrote in a childish way, that he was a really rudimental writer

(probably because he thought that the way of thinking of Poe was too primitive and not articulated).

James thought that writing has a lot to do with metaphores images, symbles, and he thought that Poe used

this thing only in a Childish Way.

He tooks lot of inspiration from "The Fall of the House of Usher" for "The Jolly Corner", but also from other

stories (everywhere there is a Castle, or a building that James seems to take something out from Poe's

imagination, not only for the JC).

The idea of buildings as a manifestations of mental states of the protagonist is central and this happens quite

a lot in James (most his stories take place in the interior of a house).

He also tooks inspiration from:

− "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" (1838): is the only Novel Poe vere wrote. It's a travel book

which takes place on seas, on the ocean, and it's considered like a story to be seen on the lenght of


the most famous travel books in the American 19 century, with Moby Dick.

At the end of the story there is a filmy vision: in the last scene of the story, the protagonist's quickly reaching

the south pole and he sees at the orizon clouds which create a film (he's not really seing what the orizon is

hiding – un naufrago, andando alla deriva al sud, si trova davanti ad uno spessore d'aria bianca, come se

fosse un tendaggio di luce che nascondeva, come fà l'oscurità).

In "The Golden Bowl" (la coppa d'oro), one of the most famous/important novel of Henry James, the

protagonist remembers having read Poe's Gordon Pym. Sometimes the light could be misterious as the dark –

it's what happened at the end of JC: the revelation of the ghost, does not relly seem to solve Brydon's

problem, even if he sees the ghost, he becomes like a film.

− In the JC the atmosphere is the same of Poe's tales: there are ghosts figures that are projection of the

characters."William Wilson" another story written by Poe in which we find the theme of the double.

The presence of the Double becomes more and more demanding and at the end of the story, the

protagonist comes in front oh his double, they have a duell and he kills his double – commits suicide

at the same time because the other person is a projection of his mind so, killing that person means


− Another important source for JC is "The strange case of Dr. Jeckill and Mr. Hide" (the most


famouse story of the Double in the 19 century): written by Stevenson, who was a great friend of

James. James read the book, which was written before the JC: a lot of things are in common, some

crtics have remarked the symblic game between the two name of Dr. Jeckill and Mr. Hide.

Jekyll (Y – going back to the medioeval literature hwere this letter represents a religious literature,

the decision of a person to take a moral good or a bad life – it reminds of a path, like life = at a point

of your life you have to decide the good or the bad).

- Hide → Nascondersi – remembers the verb HIDE (this is the subject, hiding himself).

- Jekyll → Je Kill (seems to contain itself the verb KILL and “Je” is the french word for I = I kill).

This represents, in a hided way, what the two protagonists were doing (HIDING and KILLING).

The Dubling (Il Doppio) always has to do with the gestures position (moraly pure or immoraly pure – In

literary terms: the Beautiful – the good vs the Sublime – the Bad).

All these stories, written before psychoanalysis, are telling that the individual has a Double, there is a part of

Rational qhich we can see, but there is also a hidden part, an inconcious part, which many times hides


− Monster Concept: It's very central in the JC – Brydon tells his friend Alice that if he had decided to

stay in the US he would have become a Monster.

There are 2 main themes in the JC: Nostalgia and Resentigment (Rimpianto). Even if the protagonist

doesn't discredit the life he decided to live, still thought about of what he could have been – Element of


The ghost is not only the person he could have been if he decided to stay, he has also a lot to do with the

father because one thing he does when he decided to go to Europe is acting as a Monster in relation with his

father. He feels something of Guilty: Idea of Guilt that comes from the father point of view of reality, which

is for him Business Money (so he has an American point of view of Reality). The prothagonist produces a

transgression because he decides to go to Europe, this produce a Maledition (sense of guilt – the prothagonist

sees him as a monster). In the last scene he collapsed: when he sees the ghost and when he wakes up in the

lap of Alice (it's not a sexual relationship, but affection – Alice is not a lover but a mother, REGRESSION).

The price he has to pay in order to excape guilty is by the regression in Childhood (Lap of Alice – ALICE=

Semanthical Charming name because is the name of his sister).

Italo Calvino

He considered this story as one of the most important because of how it was written and built, because of the

style and the characters.

JC becomes the emblem, the symbol of Brydon (it's like a mental emblem but on the other hand James is

very carefull, he never gives literal explanations). When he comes on the crucial point of the story he always

tirns in something metaphorical and symbolic – there's no direct experience of reality, they are filmed.

James seems to to hide that he talks about himself and his relationship with his family because there's

something he want to reveal: he considers his brother William his enemy because he plays a power game and

he has a conflictual and confusing relation with his father (same name). When the situation gets crucial,

James prefers to use metaphores (he never wants to be literal, not a realistic writer).

James plays with words and it seems that Stevenson does the same (they write in unrealsitic way):


Realism (18 century) → Literal Description.


Anti realism (19 century) → Figural (figures of speech – metaphores/rethorics).

Some stories have realistics trends and other unrealistics: James has more an anti-realistic style but it doesn't

mean he doesn't talk about reality, he talks about it in an anti-realistic term.

• Dime Novel – "Romanzacci"

Melville (Moby Dick) suffers from them, he sells only 400 copies. Le Dime Novel erano scritte in


serie – at the end of the 19 century, sold between 100/500 copies (a big success – while the stories

of James didn't sell lots of copies).

• Pulp Fiction/Pulp Magazine – usavano carta da poco costo perché scrivevano storie banali,

grossolani, eredi dei Dime Novel.

While, on the other hand, Henry or Stevenson's work weren't read (only few people did it) so they

didn't sell a lot.

“It brings back .. letters unponed”

He decided to keep the secret secret, he didnt want to have any relationship with the family.

"Tutto ciò mi riporta alla mente quello che ricordavo d'aver sentito 1/2 volte, dopo aver giudicato che la cosa

migliore da fare per certi motivi era bruciare alcune lettere importanti senza aprirle" [Brydon – letters

coming from the family, important for him, that decide to keep secret/close/unopened, relationship not good].

Uncalculability: means that the emotional and psychological way of what Brydon is trying to do cannot be

calculated, cannot be descrived literally (it can't be described, it has to be methaphorical).


In psychologycal terms, it's a primal scene: like when the child sees their parents making love, he has a

Trauma because he realizes that there is a part of his parents' life in which he's not included.

So the Primal Scene produces a ghost of something that child canot understand – it's the Original Scene

because it gives him the life.

This attitude to explain all by metaphorical writing might have something to do with sexuality, with

castration and amputation (sexuality is always treated in a metaphorical way in James).


SEXUALITY is always trated in a methaphorical way in James (going up and down on the stairs in a dream,

in Freud terms, has to do with sex/sexual activity).

James is obsessed with sexuality and by the inhability of talking about it, so he uses metaphorical way (he

can't talk about it).

In James you dont see reality because it is hidden by the ornaments like in barcco art.

James changes from immobility (work of art) to movement (sexuality).

− In "Portrait of a Lady", in the indroduction, he descibes the Art of Embrodwery (ricamo) compared

to the Art of Writing.

It's the image of what James was doing at that time, he gives no explanation, it's like building a

fabric and this embrodwery it's the symbol of what happens (but we see it only as an image).

This reminds as of Arabesque in Poe. It's the same idea of decoration, like a motaphore: James is

building a structure which is made of ornaments (so many, so big and complicated that end up by

hiding the structure – only sees the ornaments).

The hero in James' stories is always somebody who looks: VEDERE – because it's only through observation

that you get an idea of meaning of themes, it's the reason why Brydon is obsessed to discover the ghost and

understand everything (but, at the end, when the ghost allowed himself to be seen, his face is totally different

from Brydon, it's like a loss – this is why James changes his narration from movement to immobility:

Movement is a metaphore for sexuality and Stillness is a metaphore for work of art).

Svenire è l'unico modo per sfuggire da questa immobilità nel momento del confronto con il fantasma.

The Curiosity in James is the curiosity of the child to see the Primal Scene → it's like Brydon, who's

condamned to see and observe, he sees many people who lives in himself but also a father that has been

methaphorically castrated (the ghost is also his father). A father who's well dressed, richly dressed but at the

same time hides his face – he reveals his face at the end and the effect is like when a child looks the Beauty

and the Beast.

Sogno di James nella galleria d'arte in cui insegue il fantasma perché è curioso. James sogna che la sessualità

scappa da lui quella dei genitori.

Nel racconto il protagonista e il fantasma, il protagonista deve svenire.

James is famous to tell a story without revelling the meaning of it.

Freud --> European city = Historical City LAYERS SEDIMENT

Freud inventa una sorta di dizionario per i sogni, i quali si ripetono secondo schemi ripetitivi che traducono

ciò che ci accade nella realtà, e che inconsciamente si traducono in sogni (ogni elemento del sogno riconduce

ad un elemento reale ben particolare: Salire/scendere le scale = Sfera sessuale).

Non ci ricordiamo dei ricordi (Freud) --> tranne alcuni eventi fondamentali che ci colpiscono e che quindi

rimangono impressi (Es. Torri Gemelle quando eravamo piccoli).

Idee in costante cambiamento:

1. La casa della sua AMICA = Rimasta, nonostante i cambiamenti.

2. La sua doppia casa.

Lo stile architettonico ottocentesco è lo stile di una vita che non esiste più, come quella del protagonista (La

famiglia di Spencer ha fatto i soldi distruggendo le case vecchie e ricostruendole. Lui scappa e studia la


Rimozione = processo di eliminazione di atti o fatti nocivi.

Ritorno del Rimosso = quando questa rimozione nociva ricompare sotto forma di sintomi o malattie (es.

Tumore) che si possono ripresentare anche col passare delle generazioni.


Quello che succede al protagonista è più o meno quello che succede ad Henry James: "psicogenealogia" – o

con libero arbitrio o con scelte condizionate dalla famiglia (es. Nonno notaio, Padre notaio e Figlio notaio).

I nomi che scelgono le famiglie spesso rievocano gli antenati (casi negativi di idealizzazione, con il figlio

che si trova in conflitto con per colpa della "programmazione" che gli è stata data con il nome – leggere bene

"Come liberarsi dalle ripetizioni familiari negative", Benoit).

− Spesso capita che il nonno/a della madre/padre si chiami Maria/Giuseppe (programmazione

inconscia e ancestrale di dare al figlio una connessione con cristo).

− L'adozione spesso diventa un modo per ripagare il torto che qualcuno ha subito più in alto nell'albero

genealogico (tipo un'abbandono).

− Il conflitto si può manifestare con sintomi (asma, problemi polmonari: sintomo di ansia, di

soffocamento interiore che risale all'esterno).

− Persone che si sposano più di una volta o chi non riesce ad avere una relazione duratura/stabile (es. il

ritorno a New York del protagonista per una sorta di unione familiare/sentimentale apparente,

risoluzione di tutti i conflitti).

− Sposarsi negli stessi luoghi dove si sono sposati i nostri antenati.

− Scegliere un luogo adottivo.

− Le informazioni che abbiamo sugli antenati spesso sono inconsce e potrebbero creare dei problemi

che si ripresenteranno in futuro (se ai figli viene dato il nome dell'amante. Oppure ad esempio

attribuire il nome "Silvy" = "S'il vit" – se lui vive: nome dato ad uno a cui era morto il fratello).

NB. Le date sono molto importanti (sono passati 33 anni = CRISTO).

Desiderio del protagonista di trovare una maturità aldilà dell'ambito familiare.

Pag. 118

Lo spettro gli suscita ripugnanza, perchè? Dopo che lo ha cercato tanto a lungo?

Perchè è il suo ALTER-EGO!

La cripta viene finalmente aperta e liberata ed è lui quello sconfitto.

One of the most famous Henry James scolar was called Leo Edel.

− Leo Edel – Biografy of Henry James (he gave away to a Non-Critical way of biography).

He wrotes many books and biographies of James (Biographical Criticism): it's very popular because

he analized everything of the author's life. He analizes different periods of James' life (Jolly Corner

period in the chapter "the Supreme Relation").

We can call it Biographical Criticism: it's a critical approach which is no longer very common, in

fact it's critisized very much because it gave away no critical, no technical view of literature.

He was very popular, people fight to analize the life of this writer (you could understand anything

that the writer decided to write about, there are more other references when you decide to analize the


In the case of Poe there is a famous point of view of a Biographical Criticism by a Freanch lady, called

Marie Bonaparte (the grandaughter of Napoleon): she was a student of Freud and she wrote a bool where

she analizes Poe's figure (trough all his family tragedy). She analizes Poe's works as a constant attempt to

recover the figure of the lost mother (Poe's mother died when she was very young so she uses the death of

the mother to analize all his stories – she said they were boring, they had the same plot but with differet





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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingue e culture per il turismo e il commercio internazionale
Università: Verona - Univr
A.A.: 2017-2018

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Rizzato Giulia di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Lingue e Letteratura Angloamericana e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Verona - Univr o del prof Cagliero Roberto.

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Riassunto esame Letteratura Spagnola