Still Another Bowl: A Henry James Souvenir

Readers suggest a miniature replica of the Henry James “golden bowl” should be sold in the new Trump Landmark gift shop.

As Chair of the Design Committee for the Trump Landmark, I am pleased that several readers of Humor Times have made some imaginative suggestions about items to be on display and for sale in the gift shop (all proceeds going to MacDonald’s Summer Camp program as a tribute to the former president’s commitment to a healthy diet for all the proud boys in the heartlands).

Henry James
Henry James, author of The Golden Bowl. Painting by John Singer Sargent (died 1925). Public Domain.

One, which struck me and the committee as a winner, as odd as it first appear to be, would be a miniature replica of the “golden bowl” presented to Henry James in England on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 1913.

The original “golden bowl” was, in fact, a “silver-gilt Charles II porringer and dish.” First used in 1515, a porringer, whose function is uncertain, is a tribute to the former’s president’s deep sense of history, going way back to his purchase of Mar-a-Lago.

Moreover, the faux gold gift to the author of the novel, The Golden Bowl, will serve as reminder that fidelity to the truth and reality aren’t always the soup de jour, so to speak, of political life.

Beyond the faithfulness of this mini-bowl to the former president’s time in office (longer, despite liberal allegations, than days spent on the links and in the bunkers), is the matter of language.

It may seem perverse at first for the committee to compare the complex and brilliant language of Henry James (many of whose subtle novels have been turned into boring movies, for example, the 2000 Golden Bowl) with the former president’s 57,000 Tweets.

But a closer examination will reveal what Goethe called “affinities” (the Gift Shop, by the way, will have a Webster Dictionary as an aid for less than literate Trumpites). There is, obviously, the sheer volume of the “Collected Tweets” (Michael Cohen, Editor).

More profoundly, and everything about the TL must be weighty, like the 45th, is a compatibility of thought (for lack of a better word).

Trump tweeted famously in 2016: “Mexico will pay for the wall.” His MAGA supporters cheered with more gusto than Green Bay Packers cheese-heads.

One of James’ characters says in — you guessed it — The Golden Bowl: “It is no wonder he wins every game. He has never done anything in his life except play games.”

Former president Trump may have achieved something positive that the committee will honor (we’ll search for it), but they were gamed on this one.

P.S. Please keep sending in suggestions.

Howard R. Wolf (for the Trump Landmark Design Committee). Howard wrote a doctoral thesis on Henry James at the University of Michigan and will have a long essay on “the master” in Trajectory No. 23 (Fall 2022), Chris Helvey, Editor. He has a short novel coming out in the fall: DISTANT LOVE.

Howard R. Wolf
Latest posts by Howard R. Wolf (see all)