Henry James pp 166-183 | Cite as

Henry James at the Grecian Urn (1951)

  • Daniel Lerner
  • Oscar Cargill
Part of the Modern Judgements book series (MOJU)


The myth of the cultural ‘limitations’ of Henry James appears to have been the creation of two British journalists, Ford Madox Hueffer* and Rebecca West, who, while they rendered to James the service of publicity, were not sufficiently read in either James or the classics to generalize as freely as they did on both his riches and his deficiencies. Hueffer led off in 1913 in this fashion:

Classicism … has quite extraordinarily little part in Mr James’ pages. It is not, again, only that you will find almost no mention in all the works (from Roderick Hudson to The Finer Grain) of Diana, Pasiphae, Diodorus Siculus, Theocritus, or even a writer whom, if he had ever mentioned him, Mr James would certainly have called ‘poor dear old Euripides’… It is not, however, only that; it is that, right up to The Golden Bowl, in all the writings, you will discern no trace of the Latin or Greek classical spirit… But even in The Golden Bowl, which we may regard as containing the maturest fruits of our subject’s philosophy, we have the singular remark that the banks of the Thames seemed, for the Roman prince, to have much more of the atmosphere of Imperial Rome than the banks of Rome’s Tiber. And the singularity of this remark lies in attribu­ting this imperialism not to the peoples but to the places.1


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  1. 10.
    W. N. Bates, Sophocles (Philadelphia, 1940 ) p. 133.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Lerner
  • Oscar Cargill

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