Henry James took to Europe his delicate sensibilities and Hemingway took his lusty appetites in the tradition of Mark twain and his Innocents abroad, an enduring myth from the perch of American cultural and moral superiority, a sort of purity in the pristine values of the New World as opposed to the shabby and elegant such as Italy…
One of he early and willing sacrifices to Rome was the English-born Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School and father of American landscape painting. To one of his many academic views of the Roman sunset, painted in the 1830’s, he gave the name the Dream of Arcadia. It was a rubric that would come to have a special meaning, a vogue-phrase meant to express all there was to be known about Americans who had successfully prolonged the Grand Tour into a life-long visit.In turn-of-the-century transatlantic correspondence the word “Arcadia” is used almost pejoratively to mean a too-familiar summer resort that one returns to habitually because there is no place else to go. And a resort was certainly what the major European capitals, from May to September, were turning out to be; the term “tourist trade” appeared in the London Telegraph as early as 1884.
The summer visitors did not go unremarked in James’s fiction; they were “night moths” and “fleeting creatures” and, like all such visitants of the air, would be gone again by morning. Privately, he expressed much harsher opinions of them, feelings that were to be extended later on to the expatriates themselves.
(see link at end):Today the broader public knows James through films of his novels, notably Merchant Ivory productions of The Golden Bowl, The Bostonians, and The Europeans. He holds a special place in the Atlantic’s pantheon of writers for a number of reasons, chief among them the many novels that explore the cultural and psychological differences between Europeans and Americans. To his contemporaries, James represented the quintessential artist, laboring at his craft to the exclusion of much else. In a May 1885 Atlantic review of a biography of George Eliot written by her husband, John Cross, James presents the author of Middlemarch as many saw James himself. The “creations” which “possessed” her and “brought her renown,” James wrote, “were of the incalculable kind, shaped themselves in mystery, in some intellectual back shop or secret crucible, and were as little as possible implied in the aspect of her life.”
What is remarkable . . . is that this quiet, anxious, sedentary, serious, invalidical English lady, without animal spirits, without adventures, without extravagance, assumption, or bravado, should have made us believe that nothing in the world was alien to her; should have produced such rich, deep, masterly pictures of the multifold life of man.Read More:http://www.neh.gov/humanities/2011/julyaugust/feature/henry-james-and-the-american-idea