Published 1886 (James had published two others by 1893), a classic dealing with terrorists, anarchists, and bombings. It was the sequel to Roderick Hudson. It's the only Henry James novel in which he takes on such overtly political subjects, the only one which deals with violent extremes of human behavior.
- Thematically, it's reactionary, the opposite of AtD.
- ATD is not reactionary but also not the opposite of The Princess Casamassima thematically, it can be easily argued.
Pugnax prefers in his reading "sentimental tales about his own species [rather] than those exhibiting extremes of human behavior, which he appeared to find a bit lurid." (p.5) It seems Pynchon is slyly commenting on James' The Princess Casamassima here in that that James novel DID deal with "extremes of human behaviour" yet Pugnax prefers "sentimental tales"!
As many who have had dogs know, often when raised from puppyhood with loving owners, they "think they are human." Pugnax learns where to pee off the gondola - a pretty natural function for a dog - "like the rest of the crew."
Or: it is a theme in Gravity's Rainbow, that the book, writing itself, is an abstraction from experience and not, of course, the thing itself. Noseworth, "who placed upon the word 'book' ... contempt" did, however, know the subject matter of The Princess Casamassima. He, Noseworth, hopes they will "suffer no occasion for exposure more immediate than that to be experienced, as with Pugnax at this moment, safely within the leaves of some book." It matters that the Chums ARE also characters in books of their adventures.
It should also be noted that The Princess Casamassima is one of the rare characters in James' novels who appears in more than one work. She was originally a character in the 1875 novel Roderick Hudson, where her name was, quite fittingly, Christina Light.
- Jglassow 2:02, 4 January 2012 (PST)
The Princess Casamassima is a novel marked by disguises, masks and assumed identities. The duality of Hyacinth’s identity begins with his ambiguous origin – both French and English, both a bastard and a gentlemen, and later both a revolutionist and an aristocrat. Hyacinth considers the question of his origin important, but he cannot decide: “He didn’t really know if he were French or were English, or which of the two he should prefer to be” (James 90). Sometimes he favors one over the other in trying to decide who suffered the more, the murdered father or the condemned mother. This attitude implies to Hyacinth’s whole life as well: constantly, the hero struggles to define his own identity, but he is not able to decide who he is or who he wants to be. [User: Jglassow, January 4, 2012]