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This programme argues that Henry James reflects the society if the 'naughty nineties' through the structure of his novel, 'What Maisie Knew'. It looks at the London society of the period as seen by... the American cartoonist Charles Dana Gibson. We also look at the 'undergrowth' of 'naughty' photographs. Next the experiences of an American in Europe is shown as portrayed in Gibson's cartoon series, 'The Adventures of Mr. Pip' and Cicely Havely argues that Maisie in France is similarly an innocent abroad. The structure of the novel is explored in a series of tableaux using models of the main characters. Then in a specially animated sequence we watch the symmetrical development of the novel's complex structure. Havely concludes that the symmetry is basically unrealistic, but that James intended it to be so as it echoes his judgement on the society he portrays.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A302, The nineteenth century novel and its legacy
Item code: A302; 08
First transmission date: 24-04-1973
Published: 1973
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:30
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributor: Cicely Palser Havely
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): London society; Naughty nineties; The Adventures of Mr. Pip
Footage description: Cicely Havely introduces the programme and briefly describes the demi-mondaines of London of the l89O's. Shots of the most notorious of London's prostitutes of that time are shown. Cicely Havely describes Henry James and briefly considers his view of a foreign culture, with the aid of a contrast between Henry James view of England and Europe and that of Charles Dona Gibson. A sequence by the latter showing the American tourist in Europe is shown. The contrast between Gibson and James is expanded. Further cartoons by Gibson are shown. Cicely Havely discusses the theme of 'innocence abroad' (in an extended as well as strictly direct sense) as it appears in 'What Maisie knew'. Also discussed is James' Americanness. Cicely Havely discusses the term 'structure' as it applies to a novel. She introduces her intention to show how the structure of 'What Maisie knew' enhances the theme. Using models, the movement of character to character, the growth of relationships, the rapture of relationships are shown in simple terms. The synopsis of the novel is repeated but with music played over the movement of the models. Cicely Havely comments on the structure that it is visible to the reader; she gives reasons for what she believes to the James's reasons for using so symmetrical a part structure.
Master spool number: 6HT/71021
Production number: 00525_3008
Videofinder number: 619
Available to public: no