Tasting Space: Sights of the Commune in Henry James’s Paris

J. Michelle Coghlan

in Sensational Internationalism

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2016 | ISBN: 9781474411202
Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781474426800 | DOI:

Series: Edinburgh Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures

Tasting Space: Sights of the Commune in Henry James’s Paris

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This chapter moves from sights of Paris as a revolutionary underground to sites of Paris in ruin, from unexpected forms of imperial adventure or subterranean possibility to uncanny forms of affective possession. While The American Scene has been the privileged site to examine Henry James’s fascination with—and affective responses to—lost landmarks and newly minted ruins, I excavate the sights of and detours around the post-Commune ruins of Paris in his writings and contemporary periodical culture. Situating James’s attention to charred landscape and vanished tourist sights alongside their ongoing returns in U.S. print and visual culture, I suggest, crucially reconfigures James’s transformative and uncannily embodied “historic sense” even as it recovers the post-Commune ruinscape that came to function as an unexpectedly charged site of transnational memory in U.S. literary, visual and performance culture. 

Keywords: Henry James; The Ambassadors; Parisian Sketches; Princess Casamassima; Paris in Ruin; Transatlantic Print Culture; Transatlantic Visual Culture; Sites of Memory

Chapter.  10397 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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