HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Henry James, 15 April
My favourite Henry James novel is Washington Square which has perhaps one of the most devastating last lines of any novel. Poor Catherine Sloper has missed out on love with fortune-hunting Morris Townsend, and is left alone at the end sitting in the drawing room. “Catherine,… picking up her morsel of fancy-work, had seated herself with it again — for life, as it were.”
Henry James moved between Britain and the USA during his life and eventually became a British citizen. I envy him being able to live in Lamb House in Rye – both house and garden are really to die for! There he read his adored Jane Austen, entertained his many literary friends, and wrote his novels. I do find his style rather tortured in the later novels, but he does repay the effort that must go into reading him.
If you enjoy Henry James, you might like to read David Lodge’s excellent novel, Author! Author! or Colm Toibin’s very fine The Master. If you like detective fiction, you’ll enjoy all the references to Henry James in the Donna Leon novels set in Venice – inspector Guido Brunetti’s wife Paola studies James and teaches his novels.
Do you enjoy the work of Jenry James? Please let me know in the comment area below.
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