James conceived the story of “The Jolly Corner” during his extended visit to America of 1904-5. Returning to his home country for the first time in over twenty years, James was overwhelmed by the speed and extent of the changes that had taken place in his absence. He notes in The American Scene (1907) that the New York of his childhood had been so “violently overpainted” with new tenements and skyscrapers that the city skyline now resembled “some colossal hair-comb turned upward and … deprived of half its teeth”. James saw social as well as material change. Industrialisation and immigration had transformed the demographics of the Eastern Seaboard, and had problematised the concept of an …
Hutchison, Hazel McNair. "The Jolly Corner". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 February 2007; last revised 30 November -1.
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