The Way We Live Now?

Henry James used to bemoan the fact that he lacked the technical knowledge of American business with which to fill in the commercial careers of such of his characters as Christopher Newman in The American or Adam Verver in The Golden Bowl. But he needn’t have worried. We sufficiently sense …

Babylon Revisited

In the beginning of Gore Vidal’s new novel, Hollywood, the “Duchess,” as the consort of Ohio senator Warren G. Harding is affectionately known, visits the Washington salon of the astrologist Madame Marcia to read her husband’s horoscope. The visit has been arranged by Harding’s henchman, Harry Daugherty, who is pushing …

The Eye of the Master

Adeline R. Tintner has provided every admirer of Henry James with a feast; the question will arise what she has provided, if anything, for others. We have long been conscious of James’s passion for painting and sculpture, for fine houses and fine interiors, for jewelry and objets de vertu, but …

Good Housekeeping

Henry James, already an expatriate in 1883, noted on his return to America in that year that the “most salient and peculiar point in our social life” was to be found in the situation of women. He perceived an “abyss of inequality” which he attributed to “the growing divorce between …

The Gould Standard

I remember a daughter of Winthrop Chanler, prominent sportsman and socialite of the early years of this century, telling me of a family breakfast in New York in 1910 when she was describing to her father a debutante dinner she had attended the night before. “Who’d you sit next to?” …

The Inner FDR

Along the walls of the main hall of the classroom building of Groton School were hung, in chronological order, the framed autographed letters of the presidents of the United States. Since Theodore Roosevelt, whose sons had attended the school, these letters had all been addressed to the headmaster. As a …

Telling All

When Arthur Inman committed suicide in 1963, aged sixty-eight, in the apartment hotel in Boston’s Back Bay where he had lived, an invalid and semirecluse, since 1919, he was known, if at all, only as the author of a few volumes of sentimental poetry. He left behind him, however, a …

The Waste Land Without Pound

At a lunch recently for the advisory committee of the Dictionary of Literary Biography, I told Lola Szladits, curator of the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library, that I had a heresy to confess. I impenitently clung to the opinion that Ezra Pound might have done a disservice …