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A Search for America
     

A Search for America

5.0 1
by Frederick Grove
 

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I Emigrate


I was twenty-four years old when one day in the month of July I
took passage from Liverpool to Montreal. I was not British-born;
but my mother had been a Scotswoman, and from my earliest childhood
I had been trained to speak the English of fashionable governesses.
I had acquired--by dint of much study of English

Overview

I Emigrate


I was twenty-four years old when one day in the month of July I
took passage from Liverpool to Montreal. I was not British-born;
but my mother had been a Scotswoman, and from my earliest childhood
I had been trained to speak the English of fashionable governesses.
I had acquired--by dint of much study of English literature--a
rather extensive reading and arguing vocabulary which however
showed--and, by the way, to this day shows--its parentage by a
peculiar stiff-necked lack of condescension to everyday slang. My
father, Charles Edward Branden by name, had been of Swedish
extraction, himself rather an Anglophile. For many years previous
to my emigration, I, too, had affected English ways in dress and
manners; occasionally, when travelling in Sweden or in the
countries bordering on the Mediterranean, I had connived at being
taken for an Englishman. I am afraid, if I could meet myself as I
then was, I should consider my former self as an insufferable snob
and coxcomb.

I must explain at some length what induced me to go to America.

When I was a boy, my parents lived "in style"; that is to say, they
had a place in the country, a rather "palatial" home, and a house
in the fashionable residential district of a populous city on the
continent of Europe. The exact localities are irrelevant. Every
summer, as soon as at home the heat became oppressive, my mother,
whom I adored and whom I remember as a Junoesque lady of very
pronounced likes and dislikes, used to pack up and to go to the
French coast--to Boulogne, Harfleur, St. Malo, Parisplage--or to
Switzerland--the Zurich Lake, Landshut, Lucerne. She preferred the
less frequented places, such as were prepared to meet her demands
for comfort without being infested by tourist-crowds. And
invariably she took one of her ten children along, mostly myself,
probably because I was the youngest one and her only boy. She died
when I was an adolescent.

About a year after my mother's death I went on a "tour of the
continent", planned to take me several years. The ostensible
reason was that I intended to pursue and to complete my studies at
various famous universities--Paris, Bonn, Oxford, Rome. In reality
I went because I had the wandering instinct. I by no means adhered
to the prearranged plan, but allowed myself to be pushed along.

I will give one example. At Naples I made the acquaintance of a
delightful young man--I forget whether he was Dutch or Danish--who
knew the artistic circles of Paris--Gide, Regnier, and others. He
somehow declared that I was the invariably best-dressed man whom he
had ever met, a highly desirable acquaintance, and just the young
Croesus who should interest himself in modern literary aspirations.
He wished me to meet his Parisian friends and offered me cards of
introduction; and although I had not been thinking of France just
then--rather of Egypt and Asia Minor--I promptly took the next
train to Nice and from there the Riviera Express to Paris. Soon I
was all taken up with that particular brand of literature which was
then becoming fashionable, filled with contempt for the practical
man, and deeply ensconced in artificial poses.

My reputed wealth opened every door. I sometimes think that some
of the men with whom I linked up--or upon whom I thrust myself--
men, some of whom have in the meantime acquired European or even
world-wide reputation, must have smiled at the presumptuous pup who
thought he was somebody because he threw his father's money about
with noble indifference. It is a strange fact that they received
me on a footing of equality and led me on; they had time to spare
for exquisite little dinners no less than for the nonsensical
prattle of one who gave himself airs. Of course, there was an
occasional man who kept himself at a distance; but on the whole I
cannot avoid the conclusion that these idols had feet of clay.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013682511
Publisher:
WDS Publishing
Publication date:
01/21/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
395 KB

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A Search for America 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It is a beautiful story, and still relevant to today's reader. I found many connections between the story and current events and issues. One of my favorite things was his disgust for all the pre-fab food he found across the U.S. and his pleasure in finding farm-fresh eggs when he could. He writes well about all the people he meets, high and low. I love his character, a rare type of man that seems to be disappearing (manly, self-sufficient, resourceful, and kind---also kind of hard to describe except he reminds me of my granfather). It is a very interesting travel book, since it takes you to our past, and takes you to humble places and encounters that are not usually part of traveling the u.s.