Henry James and Ivan Turgenev: Cosmopolitanism and Croquet

This article was published in Literary Imagination, Feb 22, 2013; doi: 10.1093/litimag/imt014

Cosmopolitanism and Croquet

Abstract

Studies of Henry James’s relationship to Ivan Turgenev have commonly overlooked the fact that French was the mediating language of their personal and literary relations. This article offers trilingual studies of two sets of texts in order to investigate how the nature of their cosmopolitanism, and their treatments of that subject, were inflected by their linguistic competences and self-consciousness. Turgenev’s satirical poem “Крокет в Виндзоре” and James’s translation of it as “Croquet at Windsor” show both writers willing to take a public stance on a controversy in international relations. Turgenev’s story “Ася” [Asia], and James’s “Daisy Miller” are more typical of both authors’ poetical realism, but their presentations of heroines who are ambiguously representative of their native, non-European countries is – as in the poem – inflected by the languages which the stories involve.