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The Reverberator

the reverberator henry james, the reverberators
The Reverberator is a short novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in Macmillan's Magazine in 1888 and then as a book later the same year Described by the leading web authority on Henry James as "a delightful Parisian bonbon," the comedy traces the complications that result when nasty but true stories about a Paris family get into the American scandal sheet of the novel's title


  • 1 Plot summary
  • 2 Key themes
  • 3 Critical evaluation
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Plot summary

George Flack is the Paris correspondent for an American scandal sheet called The Reverberator Francie Dosson, a pretty but not always tactful American girl, confides to Flack some gossip about the Proberts, the Frenchified but originally American family of her fiancé, Gaston Probert

Predictably to everybody except Francie, the nasty gossip winds up in The Reverberator, much to the horror of the stuffy Proberts Francie makes no attempt to hide her role in giving Flack the juicy details Gaston is initially dismayed by his fiancée's indiscretions But with the somewhat surprising support of his sister Suzanne, he decides to accept Francie, who never tries to shift the blame to Flack Gaston stands up to the outraged members of his family and marries his fiancée

Key themes

James had no love for publicity himself, so he doesn't spare Francie's gaucherie in blabbing about the Proberts' dirty laundry On the other hand, he doesn't mind drubbing the stick-necked snobbery of many members of the Probert family In the last analysis James clearly sides with his heroine and grants her a happy ending

Flack, the archetypical newspaperman who can't wait to splatter the latest gossip in newsprint, comes in for a predictable trashing by James "For the convenience of society" in identifying Flack, says James, "he ought always to have worn something conspicuous - a green hat or a yellow necktie" Francie has divided critics somewhat She's honest and appealing but also naive to a fault Gaston wavers and hesitates like many a Jamesian male, but he eventually does the right thing

Critical evaluation

Even the ever-critical William James liked his younger brother's work in this "Parisian bonbon" Almost everybody concedes the novel's charm, but some have demurred at the slightness of the material Of course, after the critical failure of The Bostonians and The Princess Casamassima, James might have been gun-shy about weightier topics

In the New York Edition preface James calls the novel a jeu d’esprit and "so slight a composition" But he then launches into a long, dense discussion of the structure, origins and characters of the book


  • The Novels of Henry James by Edward Wagenknecht New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co, 1983 ISBN 0-8044-2959-6
  • The Novels of Henry James by Oscar Cargill New York: Macmillan Co, 1961

External links

  • Works related to The Reverberator at Wikisource
  • Media related to The Reverberator at Wikimedia Commons
  • The New York Edition text of The Reverberator 1908
  • Author's preface to the New York Edition text of The Reverberator 1908
  • Note on the various texts of The Reverberator at

      The Reverberator public domain audiobook at LibriVox

Library of America web site

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The Reverberator Information about

The Reverberator

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    The Reverberator beatiful post thanks!


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