➾ The Spoils of Poynton Free ➵ Author Henry James – Motyourdrive.co.uk

The Spoils of Poynton summary The Spoils of Poynton, series The Spoils of Poynton, book The Spoils of Poynton, pdf The Spoils of Poynton, The Spoils of Poynton 5a1cc1b80c Mrs Gareth, Widowed Chatelaine Of Poynton, Is Fighting To Keep Her House With Its Priceless Objets D Art From Her Son Owen And His Lovely, Utterly Philistine Fiancee When She Discovers That Her Young Friend And Sympathized Fleda Vetch Is Secretly In Love With Owen, She Thrusts Her Into The Battle Line The Power Struggle That Ensues Between The Three Women Leaves Owen Vacillating What Is At Stake Is Not The Mere Possession Of Tables And Chairs It Is, For Fleda, A Conflict Between Aesthetic Ideals, Ethical Imperatives, And Her Innermost Feelings, In Which She Risks Betraying, And Being Betrayed By, All That She Holds Most Dear


10 thoughts on “The Spoils of Poynton

  1. says:

    My name is Fleda Vetch and I m the main character of The Spoils of Poynton That is to say, I appear to be the main character but the truth is, Mrs Gereth of Poynton Hall takes firm possession of that status early in the story Mrs Gereth likes taking possession of things and I like giving them up In fact, if my overly developed sense of humility didn t prevent it, I would claim my place as the most put upon character in literary history, for not only has my main character status been usurped, I ve also been saddled with an atrocious name and an impossibly rigorous sense of duty, one which invariably forces me to choose the stony path instead of the smooth one Henry James must have been in a grey mood the day he decided to insert me into his Poynton tale I ve read his notes for the story and I m fully aware that I was an afterthought, not part of the original plan He needed someone to act as a go between, and so, sadly for me, I was brought into existence I started out life in a rather promising way I was an artist, with a well developed aesthetic sense, and I had plans to go to Paris to study painting I was excited about that life when I first heard about it but then I discovered that James had made me completely penniless, so his dangling that possibility before me became just another of his cruelties Any chance of going to Paris, even to starve in a garret, was soon written out of the story in any case On the third page, as I was sitting in an obscure corner of a friend s garden, minding my modest business as usual, Henry James allowed Mrs Gereth of Poynton Hall to descend upon me in all her pent up fury Like me, she was a guest at the friend s house and she hated everything about it, the wallpaper, the furniture, the ornaments, but especially the people who owned it It didn t help that her son appeared to be romantically interested in one of the daughters of the house For some odd reason, Mrs Gereth thought I felt the same way about the house and the people as she did She never actually asked me, she just presumed I shared her feelings completely A few pages later, I d been whisked off to stay with her at Poynton Hall, and that s how I came to be the unhappy go between in the conflict that arose when Mrs Gereth s son announced he was getting married to the girl from the house with the wallpaper Mrs Gereth couldn t abide When I got to Poynton, I understood about the wallpaper of course Mrs Gereth had been a collector of art all her life Her home was a mini museum full of paintings, tapestries, precious artifacts, antique furniture, in short, beauties beyond my wildest dreams Collecting and caring for her treasures had been her life s work and she loved them than anything, certainly than her only son However, the late Mr Gereth had left his property to the son, and in accordance with English law, Mrs Gereth was obliged to leave Poynton Hall, together with all its treasures, as soon as her son decided to marry If you think you can imagine the trauma that ensued thereafter for everyone concerned, you re wrong, and certainly don t count on me to fill you in I lived through it once, I could not bear to live through it again So if, if, you still want to know what happened to the Spoils of Poynton, you ll have to read the book for yourself The single mercy Henry James granted me was to make it short.


  2. says:

    Virginia Woolf in a letter to Violet Dickinson, 25 August 1907 Well then, we went and had tea with Henry James today and Henry James fixed me with his staring blank eye it is like a childs marble and said My dear Virginia, they tell me they tell me they tell me that you as indeed being your fathers daughter nay your grandfather s grandchild the descendant I may say of a century of a century of quill pens and ink ink ink pots, yes, yes, yes, they tell me ahm mm that you, that you, that you write in short This went on in the public street, while we all waited, as farmers wait for the hen to lay an egg do they nervous, polite, and now on this foot now on that.


  3. says:

    Leon Edel sees in The Spoils of Poynton James s first attempt to use his scenic method and his playwriting techniques Unluckily for us James was an indifferent playwright and such techniques along with a laughably puritanical conception of character are responsible for this suffocatingly miniature novel.There are no vistas beyond Poynton, the dowager cottage, and a few undifferentiated London streets and furnished rooms The action, such as it is, takes place on the tensed communicatory wires that make a triangle of Mrs Gereth, her adversarial son Owen, and their ambivalent go between, Fleda Vetch the ugliest Jamesian name I ve encountered, though I hear there s a character named Fanny Assingham in The Ambassadors While immersed in the really excruciating middle of the book, in the tortuous exchanges between the impassive, nearly simpleminded Owen and the quietly turbid Fleda, I tried, as an experiment, to convince myself that James was proposing a starkly staged, stylishly minimal, Kafkaesque proto modernist chamber novel But reading it I just felt claustrophobic My other annoyance the puritanical conception of character lies with what James chose to grow from this germ of dinner party gossip an odd matter as that a good lady in the north, always well looked on, was at daggers drawn with her only son, ever hitherto exemplary, over the ownership of the valuable furniture of a fine old house just accruing to the young man by this father s deathThat heard of woman became the Mrs Gereth of this novel She is a poet of interiors, Poynton her poem There had been in the first place the exquisite old house itself, early Jacobean, supreme in every part it was a provocation, an inspiration, a matchless canvas for the picture Then there had been her husband s sympathy and generosity, his knowledge and love, their perfect accord and beautiful life together, twenty six years of planning and seeking, a long, sunny harvest of taste and curiosity Lastly, she never denied, there had been her personal gift, the genius, the passion, the patience of the collector a patience, an almost infernal cunning, that had enabled her to do it all with a limited command of money. Poynton was the record of a life It was written in great syllables of colour and form, the tongues of other countries and the hands of rare artists It was all France and Italy, with their ages composed to rest For England you looked out of old windows it was England that was the wide embrace.Mrs Gereth is faced with eviction from this personal treasure house, this essential stage, because of her son s imminent marriage to a tasteless frump Her confidant is Fleda Vetch Fleda s humble and humane taste is a perfect foil for Mrs Gereth s Olympian aestheticism Unlike Mrs Gereth, Fleda has access to the sentimental and associative reasons that explain how by certain natures, hideous objects can be loved on a exploratory visit to the dowager cottage, Mrs Gereth sees only ugliness Fleda is deeply touched by the life of the previous tenant as revealed by the leftover decoration and belongings Fleda is even able to see the loveliness in Owen Gereth, a guileless, slightly boorish dolt in his mother s eyes So yeah, sounds great The first third of the novel read much like The Tragic Muse That novel portrayed the practice of art as a human complication and social stumbling block, and I thought The Spoils of Poynton might continue its dramatic analysis of the difficulties that arise in the lives of people who live and judge only by aesthetic values Mrs Gereth s deepest love and pride is her practice of a perishable and generally ignored art The co existence of imperious aesthetic judgment and the necessarily selfless emotions of motherhood, within a single woman, seemed a rich subject But James turns to the story to Fleda Which is what he intended all along Scrutinizing the preface for reasons why the novel so bugged me, I found James saying that, from the moment of conception, he intended Mrs Gereth and her son to be mindless drivers of action, fools, fools who minister, at a particular crisis, to the intensity of the free spirit engaged with them The free spirit, the moral pivot, being Fleda To some of his contemporary critics and immediately posthumous detractors, James was the caricature of the fussy arch aesthete But he is actually quite suspicious of aestheticism Some of his facetious, shallow, mildly villainous aesthetes Gabriel Nash in The Tragic Muse, Osmond in The Portrait of a Lady exist to furnish a contrast and a provocation to the deeper natures of Nick Dormer and Isabel Archer He wasn t ever going to take a Mrs Gereth seriously as he says in the preface, she was to be a figure rather than a character, clever rather than intelligent In the preface James admits the slightly absurd presumption, the unrealism, of furnishing every situation with a morally admirable character, with a free spirit, with a Fleda to act as the ground of appeal and perching place of readerly sympathy And this is what I mean by James s puritanism Sure, Fleda is nicer than Mrs Gereth, but she isn t interesting This is the same staid moralism that produced the strange tone of The Aspern Papers, in which the narrator is duplicitous and scheming, but James can t impersonate his duplicitous or scheming voice James was so much less sophisticated than we like to think He was grateful for admittance to the Flaubert cenacle, for the chance to overhear and participate in the shop talk of Flaubert, Edmond de Goncourt, Daudet but while he admired the artistry of their novels, he privately recoiled from the squalor of their plots and the pessimism of their tone Writing the full story of Mrs Gereth would have presented no moral difficulty to any of his continental contemporaries And after the century of Leopold Bloom and Humbert Humbert, the moral requirement to insert and aggrandize a Fleda Vetch seems pretty ridiculous.But my complaints mean nothing if Fleda worked as a character But she doesn t She was well designed as a companion to Mrs Gereth, even as the eyes through which we saw Mrs Gerethbut the love story, the hand wringing agonies and renunciations with Owen are just weak The Notebooks show that The Spoils of Poynton was conceived as a short story, a short story that over time distended to novel size A shame As a story concentrated on Mrs Gereth, even one with the claustrophobic playwriting effect, this would have worked Instead we get the bloated and obtrusive story of Fleda Vetch What a miserable botch


  4. says:

    The Spoils of Poynton 1897 is an object of high craftsmanship and beauty, as polished as the choice bibelots that fuel the novel s plot through the acquisitive desires they stoke James wrote it shortly after a traumatic episode in his would be career as a dramatist, when he was booed off the stage at the opening night of his historical drama Guy Domville. In his fascinating diary notes tracking its composition included in the Penguin Classics edition , he presents The Spoils of Poynton as an attempt to salvage something, in artistic terms, from this crushing experience.I found that an interesting way to think about the novel as a kind of novelized play, leaning heavily on extended dialogue scenes to carry forward its slight but perfectly formed plot The cast list is chamber size principally, the widowed Mrs Gereth, her son, Owen, and her companion, the unfortunately named Fleda Vetch Less physically present in the novel, but a looming presence offstage is the young woman Owen plans to marry, Mona Brigstock, whom the super refined aesthete Mrs Gereth regards as a vulgarian barbarian at the gate The remaining major characters are houses the beautiful, Jacobean Poynton Hall, where Mrs Gereth lived out her married life and assembled her exquisite collection of furniture and tapestries, and the modest dower house cottage Ricks, to which she is expected to uproot herself when Owen and Mona move into Poynton The thought of abandoning her beloved possessions to Mona fires Mrs Gereth to a ruthless campaign of resistance, which includes an attempt to weaponize Fleda as an alternative, acceptable daughter in law.James uses this structure to explore the passions associated with ownership and material possession the blunter title of the novel s original, serial publication, in The Atlantic Monthly, was The Old Things Mrs Gereth s attachment to her cherished collection is as fierce as we like to think of the maternal instinct being, leaving her actual maternal feelings for Owen well in the rear Her possessions are extensions and reflections of her identity, the physical manifestation of the fastidious taste that underscores her superiority to the Brigstocks of this world More sympathetically viewed, they are memory incarnate the sediment of her long and happy married life and a collecting passion she shared with her husband There are things in the house we almost starved for she reminds Owen at one point They were our religion, they were our life, they were us Mrs Gereth is a wonderfully ambiguous character but the same could be said of Fleda indeed, on the evidence of the introduction to my edition, she has elicited wildly diverse responses from critics over the decades Some have seen her as James s alter ego in the novel, all super refined, quivering aesthetic and moral sensibility, while others regard her as a stumbling bungler, whose moral scruples mask a kind of pusillanimity, a reluctance to grasp life with both hands I can see grounds for both readings, and I m not sure at all that the two are incompatible Fleda is clearly some kind of authorial self portrait, but not necessarily a flattering one indeed, almost self lacerating in some ways.


  5. says:

    This book probably represents James at his most annoying Looking at it generously, there are 5 characters though I think one of them does not actually make an appearance Their world is cramped and claustrophobic Their concerns, for the most part, seem to be petty This is debatable, because everything with James at this point in his writing, seems to be pointing elsewhere to something ineffable The only problem is that things wouldn t seem so profound, mysterious, and ineffable, if only someone would just come out and say what they meant For James, that becomes and difficult with his characters They stubbornly, and endlessly, talk about the matter that concerns them most But for the most part, they are so concerned with niceties and appearances that they never once come to the point And this refusal to say what they mean leads to bad consequences for just about everyone involved I won t say it leads to tragedy, because here I didn t think any of the characters merited a tragic end They were all fairly base to begin with, I didn t feel bad when they got taken down.The plot, like most of later James, is very simple It could easily have been molded into a wonderful 20 30 page short story Add the false starts, the hesitations, the circling back on things that were sort of decided but not really, and it balloons into a much bigger work And I realize that all this sounds like I didn t like the book But I did I enjoy later James, even though I sometimes find it almost endlessly frustrating I did not like this book as much as either The Wings of the Dove or The Golden Bowl Here, it feels like he has just found a new approach to his writing and it doesn t sit all that well with the material he s presenting.There was a philosopher at Cambridge in the early 1900s named G.E Moore He was vastly admired by the members of the Bloomsbury circle They all thought him extremely profound This, despite the fact that he rarely talked at any of their parties The members of the circle took his reticence for deep thinking But when someone asked him about this, he replied, Perhaps its because I have nothing to say I sometimes feel that way about the characters in these James books They talk and talk at a subject or around a subject, but in the end I m left wondering whether any of them have anything to say at all All of their fine distinctions seem to be backed up by an engulfing emptiness But unlike Moore, they don t stay quiet Sometimes I m glad that they don t In this book, I wasn t quite so sure.


  6. says:

    Last night I dreamt I went to Poynton50 years earlier it was Thornfield Hall and 40 years later it was Manderley Those stately homes of England up in flames.In this fatiguing short novel 1897 , the compulsive and highly neurotic protagonist by name of Fleda Vetch James in a campy mood navigates between a mother who wants to preserve her spoils or treasures, collected over the years, for herself and a son who wants them for his soon to be bride In fact, his fianc e says the assorted knick knacks must come with the marriage, or she won t be his No one, including the author, questions her coveteous demands Confidante Fleda merely coughs.Fleda is a thumping bore as well as a Puritan who keeps harping on Honor and Pride and Virtue and Rectitude in six delicious flavors The son is repeatedly described as hollow, dull and lacking in taste We only know this because James repeats and repeats the words the fianc e is repeatedly described as vulgar, pretentious and a philistine James again repeats but fails to illustrate These 2 characters are not even pencil sketches James, in his nosey Old Lady mood, does better with Old Mum.So, there s constant blather about Negotiations will the furniture and china stay or go Also, is Fleda in love with the pussy whipped by Mum and fianc e son and will he marry or not Everything is a goddamned dilemma None of it is believable James couldn t release any passion, it seems, until a few years later 1899 when he went Mad About the Boy, American sculptor Hendrik Andersen, and he was into his late 50s Then he wrote The Ambassadors, a novel that preached Live all you can He intended this as a short story, but after one of his plays failed and he was booed offstage by the gallery a wounding event with Bernard Shaw and H G Wells among the first nighters, he couldn t pull his pen from the inkpot It should have remained a short story Trivia the theatre management followed his disaster with Wilde s The Importance of Being Earnest.


  7. says:

    A quintessentially Henry James novel, this was a joy to read The widowed Mrs Gereth has spent her life furnishing her home, Poynton, with all manner of elegant furniture and art objects which are the focus of her attention and value In the young Fleda Vetch she has found an impressionable appreciator of her efforts and objects But her son Owen has determined to marry the rough and unappreciative Mona Brigstock who does not appreciate the furnishings of Poynton, which Owen will inherit on his marriage, but who is determined to let nothing elude her grasp Mrs Gereth connives instead to attempt to have Owen marry Fleda The story plays itself out.James development of his characters is brilliant, as anticipated And perhaps the greatest joy of reading this novel, as is the case with most of James novels, is his use of dialogue that suggests often than it denotes, that leaves much between the lines for the characters and the reader to infer and interpret, and that is always as ambiguous on the page as it is in real life This is not a book, short as it is, to be read quickly and superficially Indeed, many sentences and sometimes even paragraphs will need to be read than once But the effort pays off handsomely, and most readers will find themselves delighted with the experience.


  8. says:

    I m working on a theory that Fleda resists marriage to Owen because she doesn t want to end up another item in Mrs Gereth s collection Despite the fact that Fleda always comes when called, she certainly values her independence enough to make this plausible I don t know I have trouble with Henry James I m going to start reading one of his novels a year just to prove he s not the boss of me.


  9. says:

    Even though the story isn t all that great, James uses lots of words in ways that make the book difficult to read I m not exaggerating I ve seem concrete examples that show how his revisions of sentences deliberately push the verb farther back and add pronouns that don t have an immediately identifiable object If you can get beyond that, or enjoy it as some people seem to, maybe perversely, there s a finely knitted yarn in there Widowed Mrs Gareth must vacate her home, Poynton, filled with the treasures she s collected her whole life, and hand it over to her inheriting son Owen and his fiance Mona, both philistines who don t appreciate fine things Mrs Gareth s only hope is in Fleda, intelligent and trained in the arts, to attract Owen and influence him to drop the engagement to Mona, who isn t particularly nice anways Of course dropping engagements was much scandalous then Overall Impressively dense, rewarding to study, but not something you d want to read.


  10. says:

    Die Kostbarkeiten von Poynton, eines der Sp twerke von Henry James, wurde im Manesse Verlag in neuer bersetzung von Nikolaus Stingl herausgegeben und hat dar ber hinaus eine wundersch ne Gestaltung mit farbigem Buchschnitt und Leineneinband erhalten, die allein schon zum Sammeln seiner Werke wunderbar ist Doch auch der Name Nikolaus Stingl tr gt eine Art G tesiegel unter den deutschen bersetzern, weshalb ich mich auf eine gute bersetzung und eine tolle Geschichte von Henry James freute.Ich bin ein gro er Fan von Henry James, habe jedoch bisher tats chlich nur zu seinen fr hen Werken gegriffen Somit war Poynton mein erstes Sp twerk des Autors und ich erkannte schnell, dass es einen ganz anderen Charme hat Ich bleibe nach wie vor ein Fan der fr heren Werke doch was in seinen lteren B chern ebenso heraussticht, das ist die gro e Gabe, Gesellschaften und einzelne Personen genauestens zu analysieren und ihre Schw chen auf teilweise sehr satirische aber auch versteckte Art dazustellen Nichts anderes war auch hier der Fall und man kann einfach nicht anders, als die Passagen nach Hinweisen abzusuchen, das Verhalten der Charaktere zu analysieren und sich dar ber zu am sieren Besonders spannend fand ich hierbei Fleda Die wird schnell zu einem Werkzeug von Mrs Gereth, als diese erkennt, dass sie die Sch nheit Poyntons genauso sch tzt, wie sie selbst Das Problem ist n mlich, dass ihr Sohn eine Frau heiraten m chte, die die Kostbarkeiten nicht zu sch tzen wei und an die Mrs Gereth diese keinesfalls verlieren m chte Sie sieht in Fleda somit nicht nur eine potentielle Schwiegertochter sondern auch eine L sung des Gesamtkonflikts und auch Fleda findet nach und nach Gefallen an Mrs Gereths Sohn Owen Dennoch versucht Fleda immer wieder, nicht zum Spielball der Witwe zu werden und lehnt sic in ihrem Verhalten h ufiger gegen diese auf, was ihr jedoch nicht immer gelingt Besonders spannend war es auch, ihre Entwicklung nachzuverfolgen und gegen Ende nimmt dieser Punkt immer mehr an Spannung zu Gemeinsam mit Mrs Gereth und Owen h ngt Fleda in einer Art Kommunikationsdreieck und der Gro teil des Buches spielt sich auch in Gespr chen dieser drei Parteien ab Wir haben also einen interessanten Familienkonflikt, der mich sehr fesseln konnte und dar ber hinaus sowohl im Konflikt selbst als auch in seiner L sung sehr un blich ist Dar ber hinaus fand ich viele Wendungen, die ich erstaunt las, da ich sie so nicht erwartet habe und das Ende des Romans setzt dem ganzen noch eine Krone auf und f hrt dazu, dass der Leser noch einige Zeit an die Geschichte zur ckdenkt Fazit Henry James Sp twerk Die Kostbarkeiten von Poynton unterscheidet sich zwar von seinen fr heren Werken, die Kunst, Personen und Gesellschaften zu analysieren, ist jedoch erhalten geblieben Er entf hrt den Leser in eine Geschichte, mit einem sehr eigenartigen Familienkonflikt und schafft es, mit seiner Charakteranalyse zu fesseln Besonders hervorgehoben werden, muss au erdem die gute bersetzung.


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