october 2020

09oct(oct 9)5:00 pm11(oct 11)2:00 pmHenry James in Rye: A Portrait of a Lady Weekend Retreat**Salon Full**5:00 pm - 2:00 pm (11) The Mermaid Inn Rye SussexType Of Study:Literature,TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Weekend

Event Details

Salon Weekend Retreats

Building on the success of our London-based studies, we are excited to offer travel studies that place participants in locales that reflect and contextualize the literature. Journeying together to beautiful sites, the London Lit Salon retreat offers a more intensive immersion in the book while opening the mind to a part of the world illuminated through the beauty of the language.

A Portrait of  A Lady by Henry James

The book is a painted portrait or even a kaleidoscope.  We watch and guess what Isabel will do. But like a portrait, she is (perhaps) caught in a frame and frozen by the artistry –or the terms of her world.

Previous studies have included considerations of gender roles, the negotiated space between self and other, the corruption or freedom offered by privilege, the challenge of looking at nationalities in generalizations (and the tempting ease to do so), the ways in which humans reveal themselves…these Salon discussions are full of wonder: the meeting of the gathered minds and the provoking text is a powerful thing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to echo in the lines and characters of Henry James, Isabel in particular: “You think of me the child of my circumstances: I make my circumstance…I—this thought which is called I, –is the mould into which the world is poured like melted wax. The mould is invisible, but the world betrays the shape of the mould. You call it the power of circumstance, but it is the power of me.” –from Emerson’s essay The Transcendentalist 

Our study of PoAL may include a consideration of this quote in light of Isabel’s life and choices: how much do we make ourselves? How does the world impose itself on the individual in the act of self-creation?


Salon Details and Registration

  • Weekend Meeting : October 9th-11th 2020
  • Meeting in Rye–The Mermaid Inn and (as weather permits) garden at Henry James House
  • Facilitated by Salon Director Toby Brothers
  • Cost £165 includes notes and critical resources; rooms at the Mermaid range from £90 per night to £125
  • RECOMMENDED EDITION: Norton Critical Edition Oct. 2017; ISBN-10: 0393938530

AUGUST 2020: This Salon is now FULL

To register for the Salon study, please use the Paypal button below to pay £165: (Please pay for the  room directly to The Mermaid Inn once your registration has been confirmed):

About the Mermaid Inn–

This famous and historic Inn is a real find– it is usually booked out but we were able to secure three singles for GBP 90 each per night including breakfast, and 10 double-for-single rooms for GBP 125 each per night for a total of 13 rooms (out of 31 total rooms in the hotel).  There are two lounges for meetings offered at no cost.  WJ’s historic house is 1 minute walk away.

See images and further details here: https://www.mermaidinn.com/about-the-hotel/


From J. Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

“The question (could a novel be art) were…framed in terms of technique, but the ideal was no longer just to promote the novel’s ability to communicate more and more details about more and more things, but also to have an aesthetic shape or effect that would be intended by the author and felt by the reader as consciously graceful, beautiful or ‘right.’  Foremost proponent of these ideas was Henry James…” p. 134

“Everything that Isabel has learned about love and marriage growing up in the United States turns out to be wrong—in Europe, marriage is a pure commodity relationship, and it is the fate girls to be bought, sold, and dominated. Their only choices are to accept their fate knowingly or undergo it without understanding it. ..In Pofa Lady James does what he intended to do…uses intense psychological analysis and careful depiction of settings to fill the spots where the vulgar might have been. “ p. 135

“H. James …recognized that, as vital and satisfying as the English novel was, English novels were missing something that French novels possessed—psychological refinement and depth. …HJ wanted to write…important novels about the progress of the inner life, in which the climax might be only a silent recognition by the protagonist that she has made a commitment fatal to her happiness. Readers had to be educated to understand the weight of such subterranean drama…” p.136