With a decaying Venetian villa as a backdrop, an anonymous narrator relates his obsessive quest for the personal documents of a deceased Romantic poet, one Jeffrey Aspern. Led by his mission into... More > increasingly unscrupulous behavior, he is ultimately faced with relinquishing his heart's desire or attaining it at an overwhelming price.< Less
Originally published in 1879, in this critique of one literary genius by another, James not only considers Hawthorne as a man and a writer, but he uses his subject as a vantage point from which to... More > present his views on American culture. James assesses the place of the writer in 19th-century America as well as the disparate values of the Old World and the New.< Less
The Bostonians is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Century Magazine in 1885–1886 and then as a book in 1886. This bittersweet tragicomedy centers on an odd triangle of... More > characters: Basil Ransom, a political conservative from Mississippi; Olive Chancellor, Ransom's cousin and a Boston feminist; and Verena Tarrant, a pretty, young protégée of Olive's in the feminist movement. The storyline concerns the struggle between Ransom and Olive for Verena's allegiance and affection, though the novel also includes a wide panorama of political activists, newspaper people, and quirky eccentrics.< Less
The Princess Casamassima is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly in 1885-1886 and then as a book in 1886. It is the story of an intelligent but confused young... More > London bookbinder, Hyacinth Robinson, who becomes involved in radical politics and a terrorist assassination plot. The book is unusual in the Jamesian canon for dealing with such a violent political subject. But it is often paired with another novel published by James in the same year, The Bostonians, which is also concerned with political issues, though in a much less tragic manner.< Less
When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy Aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to determine her own fate, does... More > not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. She then finds herself irresistibly drawn to Gilbert Osmond, who, beneath his veneer of charm and cultivation, is cruelty itself. A story of intense poignancy, Isabel's tale of love and betrayal still resonates with modern audiences.< Less
The Outcry is a light comedy originally conceived as a play. James cast the material in a three-act drama in 1909, but like so many of his plays, it failed to be produced. (There were two posthumous... More > performances in 1917.) In 1911 James converted the play into a novel, which was successful with the public. The Outcry was the last novel he was able to complete before his death in 1916. The storyline concerns the buying up of Britain's art treasures by wealthy foreigners, especially Americans. While hardly a subject of life-and-death significance, James' novel treats the idea in a busy, cheerful, appealing manner.< Less
'A thing to marvel at, a thing to be grateful for.'A rich American art-collector and his daughter Maggie buy in for themselves and to their greater glory a beautiful young wife and noble husband.... More > They do not know that Charlotte and Prince Amerigo were formerly lovers, nor that on the eve of the Prince's marriage they had discovered, in a Bloomsbury antique shop, a golden bowl with a secret flaw. The superstitious Amerigo, fearing for his gilded future, refuses to accept it as a wedding gift from Charlotte. 'Don't you think too much of "cracks,"' she is later to say to him, 'aren't you too afraid of them? I risk the cracks...' When the golden bowl is broken, Maggie must leave the security of her childhood and try to reassemble the pieces of her shattered happiness.< Less
When Chadwick Newsome, a young American favoured with fortune and independence, becomes entangled in a liaison dangereux with a Parisian temptress, his overbearing mother deploys her future husband,... More > the elderly, amiable Strether, as an ambassador to engineer his safe return. But seduced by the ambient charms of Paris and the bewitching comtesse de Vionnet, Strether soon deserts to Chadwick's side, initiating a sparkling tale of mistaken intentions, comic accident and false allegiances which culminates in the deployment of another, less fallible ambassador - the cold, glittering, ruthless Sarah Pocock.
The Ambassadors is a dark comedy initially published in 1903 and was considered by Henry James himself his best work.< Less
Set amid the splendor of London drawing rooms and gilded Venetian palazzos, 'The Wings of the Dove' is the story of Milly Theale, a naïve, doomed American heiress, and a pair of lovers, Kate... More > Croy and Merton Densher, who conspire to obtain her fortune.
In this witty tragedy of treachery, self-deception, and betrayal, Henry James weaves together three ill-fated and wholly human destinies unexpectedly linked by desire, greed, and salvation.< Less
"The Sacred Fount," first published in 1901, is a novel by Henry James. This strange, often baffling book concerns an unnamed narrator who attempts to discover the truth about the love... More > lives of his fellow-guests at a weekend party in the English countryside. He spurns the "detective and keyhole" methods as ignoble, and instead tries to decipher these relationships purely from the behavior and appearance of each guest. He expends huge resources of energy and ingenuity on his theories, much to the bemusement of some people at the party.< Less