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The Reverberator Paperback – 1 Dec 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Aegypan (1 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598185047
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598185041
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 692,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry James was born in 1843 in Washington Place, New York, of Scottish and Irish ancestry. His father was a prominent theologian and philosopher and his elder brother, William, is also famous as a philosopher. He attended schools in New York and later in London, Paris and Geneva, entering the Law School at Harvard in 1862. In 1865 he began to contribute reviews and short stories to American journals. In 1875, after two prior visits to Europe, he settled for a year in Paris, where he met Flaubert, Turgenev and other literary figures. However, the next year he moved to London, where he became so popular in society that in the winter of 1878-9 he confessed to accepting 107 invitations. In 1898 he left London and went to live at Lamb House, Rye, Sussex. Henry James became a naturalized citizen in 1915, was awarded the Order of Merit and died in 1916.

In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, autobiography and travel, he wrote some twenty novels, the first published being Roderick Hudson (1875). They include The Europeans, Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

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About the Author

Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chances are that if you have come across this review it is either by accident, or you were just browsing. I only found out about this book when I was going through a list of books written by Henry James, and then I had to do an internet search to find out what it was about.

The Dossons are staying in Paris and are often visited by their friend, Mr Flack. Mr Flack is a journalist and has just started to write for an American paper, 'The Reverberator'. Through this gentleman the Dossons are introduced to Mr Waterlow, an up and coming artist of the 'Impressionist Movement'. The Youngest Dosson, Francie sits for her portrait and at the studio meets Gaston Probert. Francie has turned down George Flack, but she won't do the same to Gaston.

Francie and George remain friends although she is engaged to Gaston. But what will Gaston's family make of her and the other Dossons? After all the Proberts are an old established family and the Dossons are most certainly new money, as well as American. Despite this and the Probert's snobbery everything is looking to be going on smoothly. That is until Francie talks to George. George wants to do a piece on Francie having her portrait done, and write about her forthcoming nuptials.

What 'The Reverberator' prints immediately causes scandal amongst the Proberts, who are sickened by the story which includes them; however, the Dossons don't seem to take quite the same view of the article. What is so shocking about the article? And more importantly, will the wedding still proceed?

What James has written is another story of a clash of cultures between the New and Old World, which he always seems to pull off so admirably. It seems that this story has somehow become overshadowed and forgotten to a certain degree, because it is very good. It most deservedly needs to be more in print, and attention brought to it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tiddioggie on 15 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read other novels by this author and can't wait to read this one. It will make a good read on holiday.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good Vibes!?! 26 July 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The 'Reverberator' is not, as some readers might feverishly suppose, a hand-held device for erotic auto-stimulation, nor is it one of those fashionable quivery armchairs. No, it's the name on the masthead of an American tabloid, a racy gossip sheet, for which Mr. George Flack is the Parisian correspondent. The only vibrations you'll experience while reading this 1888 novella will be the shaking of your sides at Henry James's wry satire. Mr. Flack is the driving anti-hero of this tale, a prophetic verbal 'paparazzo' of sensationalist journalism, a man with a vision of the vulgar times we have to admit to be ours; speaking to a young woman he hopes to impress, he says: "You ain't going to be able any longer to monopolize any fact of general interest, and it ain't going to be right you should; it ain't going to be possible to keep out anywhere the light of the Press... We'll see who's private then, and whose hands are off, and who'll frustrate the people -- the People that wants to know. That's a sign of the American people that they do want to know..." Mr Flack is the obnoxious harbinger of People Magazine, and of the politics of exposé and outright defamations that degrades American democracy today. The changing societal modes of privacy versus publicity are central themes of the two novellas James published together in his mid career, "The Reverberator" and "A London Life".

All the principal characters of The Reverberator are Americans in Paris. Mr. Flack's object of admiration is the winsome Francie Dosson, in Paris with her plain but ambitious older sister Delia and their wealthy retired father. The Dossons, to put it plainly, are rubes. Mr. Dosson is as culturally and intellectually blank as John Locke's slate; his only claim to any specific personhood has been his knack for making money through investments. Delia is 'horridly' declassé, vulgar to her toes. Francie is unaccountably beautiful and graceful, but she is exactly what modern observers would call an "airhead". Flack introduces her to yet another American in Paris, the 'rising' impressionist painter Waterlow, for whom Francie agrees to pose though she finds his paintings bizarre. At Waterlow's studio, another 'American' enters the story: Gaston Probert, the scion of a Catholic family that migrated to France from the Carolinas in flight from abolition and democracy. The Proberts have wealth, still based in America, and have married into the staunchly reactionary French Legitimist aristocracy. They are the stiffest of snobs, but young Gaston is at sea over his own identity, unsure of his true national character and of his manly worth on the terms of either culture. Each character in this novella is simultaneously a stinging caricature and yet a perfectly plausible individual. The romantic tussle that results from their chance encounter reveals each of them to be exactly who they seem, even when they aren't quite capable of knowing themselves.

The Reverberator is a brilliant study of characters and a well-paced comic tale. Henry James's wit, to be sure, often takes the form of syntactical feints and pirouettes. Ah reckin thet sorta wit ain't fer ev'body ... and perhaps this accounts for the diffuse prejudice among readers today that James is a 'difficult' writer, more work than play. It's not so. "The Reverberator" and its companion "A London Life" are highly entertaining, even as they dig psychologically under the surface of ordinary human relations.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity. 11 Nov. 2009
By mojosmom - Published on
Format: Paperback
In our time, socialites, celebrities and people "famous for being famous" hire publicists and are content to have their private lives made fodder for the public press. Indeed, they are often complicit in the revelation of the most intimate details of their lives and seem to agree with the saying that "no publicity is bad publicity".

Henry James would be shocked. Simon Nowell-Smith points out in his introduction to my edition of this novel James' reaction to a public report of a private conversation between Julian Hawthorne and James Russell Lowell; he called it a "beastly and blackguardly betrayal". But he took an incident in which a young American who had been admitted into Venetian society wrote an account of that society for a New York newspaper, and was widely excoriated in Venice for so doing, and turned it into this charming novel.

The Dossons, father and two daughters, serious Delia and flighty Francie, are Americans in Paris. Coming over, they had made the acquaintance of George Flack, a journalist whose job is to find stories for an American 'society-paper'. He has attached himself to the Dossons, showing them Paris, while smoking Mr. Dosson's cigars, spending his money, and having a flirtation with Francie. He introduces her to the expatriate Impressionist portraitist, Charles Waterlow (possibly based on John Singer Sargent?) who begins to paint her portrait. During the sittings, she meets a young man, Gaston Probert, an American who had never been in America, having been born and raised in France, his father a "Gallomaniac", his sisters having married into French society (two into the nobility). Inevitably, Francie and Gaston fall in love, and, after her charm overcomes some familial objections of the Proberts, they become engaged.

All is going swimmingly, Francie is taken into the bosom of the Proberts, learning the ways of French society, until Gaston heads to the United States to take care of some business for his family, as well as for Mr. Dosson. While he is away, George Flack re-appears. One lesson Francie has not learned is that a young engaged woman does not go out alone with a young man who is not her betrothed. But she takes the view that Flack is an old acquaintance and what's the harm? The harm turns out to be that he, by judicious questioning and saying he merely wants to write about Waterlow's painting of her, sets her chattering about her fiancé's family, and the resultant newspaper story causes a storm. Francie still cannot quite understand the harm she has done. "I thought he would just speak about my being engaged and give a little account; so many people in America would be interested." What she doesn't grasp is that the Proberts do not want "people in America" (or France, for that matter) to be interested in their private lives.

"The Reverberator" was first written as a serial in early 1888, and published in book form shortly thereafter. James extensively revised it twenty years later, but my edition is that of the 1888 book. Nowell-Smith's introduction, which compares this and the later edition, shows that the revisions were not an improvement! The ease of language here, very different from James' later "tortuosity of expression", perfectly expresses the wide-eyed naïveté of Francie.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Flatliners 11 Dec. 2011
By H. Schneider - Published on
Format: Paperback
She seemed to be doing nothing as hard as she could.

The problem with this short novel from the 1880s is that there are no real people in it, only shadow lines of 2 dimensions. Between two fat novels (Princess Casamassima and Tragic Muse), James apparently felt obliged (publisher's pressure?) to produce something shorter and funnier. He did and some readers have liked it, but I can't quite warm up to it.

Usually, James' strength was in his psychological finesse, which could make me see an interest in people and problems that I might otherwise ignore. He does not achieve that here. Also, in general I like his shorter pieces better, but Francie and Gaston have left me cold. James' women are a subject of their own, and there is a lot of variation among them, but I can't remember any heroine as uninteresting as Francie. Nor any main male as boring as Gaston.

We have an encounter of 2 families in Paris, both of American origin, both, oddly, without mother. A wealthy man from Boston travels Europe with 2 daughters, a bossy but ugly one and a pretty but mindless one. A Frenchified resident family, whose wealth is based on property in Carolina, consists of a snobbish aging father, a do-nothing son, and 3 daughters married to various French aristocrats.

The do-nothing son and the pretty but mentally flat daughter get entangled, but even that happens without much excitement. The excitement comes from a slip by the girl: she tells some family secrets to a failed suitor who works for an American scandal press product. That complicates things for a while, as the yellow press usually will. If the yellow press were more in the forefront of the story, the novel might be more interesting. As it is, I can't find it very funny.
Boldface Names 29 Nov. 2013
By James R. Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the earliest put-downs of gossip and celebrity journalism.
King Henry is very droll as his characters cope with the media.
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