"The House in Paris" Book Review by ShrodingersCat

"The House in Paris"
An analysis of the themes of communication and genealogy in Elizabeth Bowen's "The House in Paris".
# 113667 | 5,640 words | 20 sources | MLA | 2008 | CA
Published on Apr 24, 2009 in Literature (English) , English (Analysis)

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This paper discusses how genealogical links manifest a pattern in "The House in Paris"; not only do Bowen's characters inherit physicalities -Leopold has Karen's "smile" just as Karen has "her mother's nose"- but genealogies also determine how individuals communicate with others. The paper looks at how Bowen's preoccupation with certain forms of communication (telegrams, letters, and telephone calls) emphasize the distance her characters place between one another and how unequivocal exchanges are entirely absent in the novel. The paper also examines how instances of non-verbal communication pervade the narrative and how Leopold's heredity complicates his maturation and potentially sets him up for a life of inevitable disappointment.

From the Paper:

"Karen's discovery of Mrs. Michaelis's note about Evelyn Derrick shows that her own inability to communicate is inherited. In her book, Patterns of Reality: Elizabeth Bowen's Novels (1975), Harriet Blodgett similarly notes that Karen is the "daughter of a family which is only too representative of the sterility of ideas and feeling weakening the post-war upper middle class" (86). This "sterility" is exemplified in Mrs. Michaelis's interactions; she is anything but direct in her dealings. Suspecting her daughter's affair, Mrs. Michaelis "sound[s] unfamiliar," speaks in "an unreal voice" (187), and takes "unknown cautious steps" (188) throughout the house. Karen, like the reader, suspects Mrs. Michaelis of obliquely communicating something via her distance--Karen then discovers the imprint of Evelyn Derrick's discarded message on her mother's notepad. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Austin, Allan E. Elizabeth Bowen. Boston: Twayne Publishers. 1989.
  • Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts. 1953. New York: Grove Press. 2006.
  • Blodgett, Harriett. Patterns of Reality : Elizabeth Bowen's Novels. The Hague: Mouton. 1975.
  • Bowen, Elizabeth. "Disappointment." (Pink and Yellow Versions). Unpublished documents from Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. 4 pages + 9 pages.
  • --------------. The House in Paris. 1935. New York: Anchor Books. 2002.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

"The House in Paris" (2009, April 24) Retrieved August 09, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-house-in-paris-113667/

MLA Format

""The House in Paris"" 24 April 2009. Web. 09 August. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-house-in-paris-113667/>