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The American in the Classroom

I quite understand that as an editor you should go in for "cheerful endings"; but I am sorry that as a private reader you are not struck with the inevitability of the American dénouement. I fancied that most folks would feel that Mme. de Cintré couldn't, when the finish came, marry Mr. Newman; and what the few persons who have spoken to me of the tale have expressed to me... was the fear that I should really put the marriage through. Voyons; it would have been impossible: they would have been an impossible couple, with an impossible problem before them. For instance -- to speak very materially -- where would they have lived?... No, the interest in the subject was, for me, (without my being at all a pessimist) its exemplification of one of those insuperable difficulties which present themselves in people's lives and from which the only issue is by forfeiture -- by losing something.

-- Henry James to William Dean Howells, March 30, 1877.

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