The essay focuses on the theme of ruins in Henry James's The American in the light of Francesco Orlando’s theory of nonfunctional objects in literature. This topic traces a cause-effect relationship between the ideas of an appropriation of the European artistic and cultural heritage—metaphorically outlined by Newman’s initial attitude towards the ruins of the Old World—and the confidence that this assimilation should be filtered from its corrupt traits before being transported to the United States—symbolically delineated by the burning of the telltale sheet at the end of the novel. The idea of ruins—that swings constantly throughout the novel between the symbol of an artistic and cultural past to be achieved, and the tragic witness of the Western civilization’s decline—is a dialectic process that reflects not only the inevitable friction between the objectivity of physical ruin (the object itself) and the subjective perspective of the observer (Christopher Newman), but also defines the cultural relationship between the Old and the New World.

The Wavering Ruins of The American

Enrico Botta
2011-01-01

Abstract

The essay focuses on the theme of ruins in Henry James's The American in the light of Francesco Orlando’s theory of nonfunctional objects in literature. This topic traces a cause-effect relationship between the ideas of an appropriation of the European artistic and cultural heritage—metaphorically outlined by Newman’s initial attitude towards the ruins of the Old World—and the confidence that this assimilation should be filtered from its corrupt traits before being transported to the United States—symbolically delineated by the burning of the telltale sheet at the end of the novel. The idea of ruins—that swings constantly throughout the novel between the symbol of an artistic and cultural past to be achieved, and the tragic witness of the Western civilization’s decline—is a dialectic process that reflects not only the inevitable friction between the objectivity of physical ruin (the object itself) and the subjective perspective of the observer (Christopher Newman), but also defines the cultural relationship between the Old and the New World.
978-1-906924-37-9
Henry James, The American, International theme, ruins
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1061122
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