chapter  11
18 Pages

‘A Round of Visits’: E ects Achieved ‘without the aid of the ladies’

New York’s Waldorf-Astoria and indeed America’s ‘hotel world’ are held to signify an aspect of sociocultural practice, even anxiety, in James’s reading of the nation in Th e American Scene, exemplifying the compellingly public nature of social relations, the constraints upon privacy, the implicit need for public endorsement. e ‘great gaudy hotel’ in which ‘A Round of Visits’ begins projects a comparable corporate grandeur, overwhelmingly forming on the city skyline, in its hero’s eyes, ‘beside, behind, below, above, in blocks and tiers and superpositions, a su cient defensive hugeness’. Designed ‘on “Du Barry” lines’, it is called the ‘Pocahontas’, as if in recalling the romantic legend of the native princess associated with the colonization and settlement of America, James is locating his narrative in a consciously latter-day, if perhaps ironic, national context. is last short story by James begins in ‘the massive labyrinth’ (CT, vol. XII, p. 428) of the hotel, and goes on to o er a nal and ctive corollary for some of the autobiographical messages to be read in Th e American Scene, in the hidden drama of the interior lives of young men, their personal, mysterious anguish and the heterodox urban society in which they move.