chapter  7
30 Pages

The Second Empire Revisited

WithAngus Wrenn

A reading of The Wings of the Dove alongside Edmond about's Germaine provides a fitting conclusion to the study of the influence of the Second Empire, revealing as it does numerous links back to the French novel. Viewed individually, many of these are of a relatively minor nature, but taken together they create the overwhelming impression that Henry James, consciously or otherwise, seems to have been compelled to include as many features of the original as possible. Georgina's Reasons is a tale quite outside the regular Jamesian canon. James conceived it as a deliberate potboiler, written for serialization in the New York Sun, a popular Sunday newspaper. Matthiessen makes the point that James does not always seem fully aware of the religious implications of the Christian images he uses, but it might equally be observed that Matthiessen gives insufficient attention to the overtly Catholic nature of that Christian imagery.