09 July 2008

The Outcry

Dear Class, 

    I'm not sure whether anyone else stumbled upon this problem, but upon searching for The Outcry by Henry James, I found a play and a novel, both with the same title.  I'm going to assume we are reading the novel?  

    Few pages into the book, I ponder the title and why it would be called The Outcry, when the characters in the text grapple with a false sense of manners and outwardly politically correct social behavior.  

    According to Dictionary.com, outcry is 
1. a strong and usually public expression of protest, indignation, or the like
2. a crying out
Neither of these definitions or the word outcry does justice to the characters behaviors towards each other.  Diametrically opposing the title, the characters hold many feelings and thoughts, and seem to have a play on words.   An outcry determines a loss of control, whereas the characters exert extreme control over their behavior and how they pose their interactions.  


Snehal said...

It's true. James first composed The Outcry as a play, and then modified it for publication as a novel. We are, indeed, reading the novel.

The "outcry" that's at issue in the novel will come later, when the issue of selling the "national treasures" to foreign buyers becomes a nation-wide controversy in the newspapers.

Sylvia said...

Another definition per Merriam-Webster Unabridged is: 2 a : AUCTION (the executor's duty to sell it at public outcry -- Southeastern Reporter) b : a calling out of a price (as in a commodity exchange) (a buyer and seller in the ring can by open outcry mutually agree on a price -- Commodities)

Brooke Foged said...

During our class discussion, we talked about art-wealth -- art being a national treasure. However, something I found particularly interesting in the text was the fact that no one seemed able to adequately determine what the art even was. I mean, of course, whether the one painting was a Morreto or a Mantovano (and whether or not the Cuyp was a fraud). The only people able to determine this are foreigners -- one from Belgium and the other from Italy. No Englishman in the story was qualified to pronounce the origin of their own national treasure.

Also, there seems to be little to no actual art appreciation going on in the novel. Bender is simply aquiring costly pieces, Crimble is studying the "science" of art, and Theign is trying to make a quick buck. The Morreto/Mantovano is never even described. And I think that the only reason we know what the Lawrence looks like is that James wanted to make a clear connection between the commerce of art and that of marriage.

Anonymous said...

(This is a repost from 2 weeks ago....although abbreviated)

What I found most entertaining about the novel, is the way that Bender stands in sharp contrast to the Old World aristocrats who need his money but abhor everything he stands for. Theign, on the other hand, has an exaulted sense of self although he can't even afford to pay off his daughters gambling debts. It is inconceivable that he may have to answer to anyone (including the British commoners) for anything.