Talk:Henry James

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former featured article Henry James is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on May 19, 2006.
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Biography / Arts and Entertainment (Rated C-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the arts and entertainment work group.

This article has comments here.

WikiProject LGBT studies (Rated C-class)
WikiProject icon This article is of interest to WikiProject LGBT studies, which tries to ensure comprehensive and factual coverage of all LGBT-related issues on Wikipedia. For more information, or to get involved, please visit the project page or contribute to the discussion.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.

This article has comments here.

Wikipedia Version 1.0 Editorial Team / v0.5
WikiProject icon This article has been reviewed by the Version 1.0 Editorial Team.
Taskforce icon
This article has been selected for Version 0.5 and subsequent release versions of Wikipedia.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the quality scale.
This article has an assessment summary page.

Poor Wilky and Poor Bob[edit]

Just noticed there is no mention of Henry James' younger brothers Garth Wilkinson and Robert James in the article. Victoria Coulson (American Lit lecturer at York) has written a fantastic book called "Henry James, Women and Realism", and Ch1 on Alice James briefly goes over the James family life. I think what's exceptional about these two is how little they achieved compared to Henry and William James, and, more importantly, how they were regarded by the family -- as "pitiable... troublesome outcasts", as "figures of pity, disapproval and tempered distaste", and as "poor Wilky" and "poor Bob". Their deaths commanded little attention from the James family (Wilky in 1883 and Bob in 1910); Wilky's drew a little sympathy while Bob's "was greeted as if overdue".

Anyway, I think Garth Wilkinson James and Robertson James bear at least mentioning in the article, if only how they were seen as familial outcasts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:37, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

James and Hemingway[edit]

Regarding the Hemingway quote ("Did you ever read Henry James? He was a great writer who came to Venice and looked out the window and smoked his cigar and thought"):

I haven't read an extraordinary amount of James, so I can't offer a completely expert opinion on what Hemingway meant. When one thinks of James and Venice, the terrific "Aspern Papers" obviously leap out. But I think it's more likely Hemingway had James' preface to Portrait in mind. The first paragraphs deal with James' experience writing in Venice. This is particularly of interest:

"I had rooms on Riva Schiavoni, at the top of a house near the passage leading off to San Zaccaria; the waterside life, the wondrous lagoon spread before me, and the ceaseless human chatter of Venice came in at my windows, to which I seem to myself have been constantly driven, in the fruitless fidget of composition, as if to see whether, out in the blue channel, the ship of some right suggestion, of some better phrase, of the next happy twist of my subject, the next true touch for my canvas, mightn't come into sight."

Hemingway may draw his picture of Henry James looking out of his Venice window, smoking and thinking, from these lines (the cigar being Hemingway's imaginative addition).

Lastly, there's another James-Hemingway connection that may have a place somewhere in the article. In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton refer to Henry James (pps. 120-21 in the latest Scribner paperback edition, which I think is the standard). They're talking about the accident that evidently left Jake impotent, and Bill mentions James' mysterious accident. If this tidbit fits into the article, I'm not sure what the best place for it would be (maybe in the Legacy section with the other Hemingway stuff, or maybe in some sort of trivia section).

Yep, James's "obscure hurt" gets a mention in The Sun Also Rises. I guess the reference could be included in the article, but the Legacy section would get pretty long if we started writing about every reference to James in every book. Hemingway's 1954 letter seemed much more on-topic and frankly touching, considering Papa's encounter with the shotgun a few years later. Down the road, we might want to start spinning off separate articles about James' life, the sexuality issue (including the "obscure hurt"), his legacy, his critical reputation, his style, etc. This was actually suggested in the article's FAC, and something similar has been done with Shakespeare.
As for the Portrait of a Lady preface, it's possible that Hemingway had it in mind. But the unnamed narrator of The Aspern Papers actually smokes a cigar in Venice at one point in the story, unlike James in the preface. Really obscure trivia: Vladimir Nabokov got irate that James referred to the "tip" of a cigar. Nabokov insisted that the end of a cigar was blunt, so it shouldn't be called a "tip." (He was actually talking about What Maisie Knew, but the same gripe applies to The Aspern Papers.) Of course, from any distance at all, the tip of a cigar is, as Freud might say, just the tip of a cigar.
Anyway, I think it's a little unlikely that Hemingway waded through the New York Edition prefaces. It's much more probable that he read The Aspern Papers, one of James' most celebrated stories. But as I said in the article, Hemingway's allusion may be completely accidental. By the way, the Adeline Tintner book referenced in the footnotes offers twelve interesting pages of material on James and Hemingway. Casey Abell 12:38, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Version 0.5[edit]

Thanks for the nomination and selection! Lots of people worked on the article since its inception almost four years ago, and they all deserve credit. Thanks again. Casey Abell 04:21, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Sturgis quote & Sexuality Qualifiers[edit]

I added the Sturgis quote because that link hasn't been properly investigated even by the HJ industry, in terms of its context i.e. the fact that HJ was on the perimeter and sometimes participated in a lively homosexual social circle. For example, Sturgis still doesn't have a biography (not even a Wikipedia entry!), yet he was a seminal figure in the lives of many, was as camp as Christmas (see his highly amusing letters in James Lees Milne's The Enigmatic Edwardian), and he and his boyfriend's estate, Queens Acre, seems to have performed a similar role to the home of marsala heiress Tina Whitaker in Sicily (see Raleigh Trevelyan's Princes Under The Volcano), in being a drop-in centre for every rich and cosmopolitan homosexual in C19th England: from E.F. Bensen to Ronald Gower to James.

Need it be said: more nonsense is written about HJ than possibly any other C19th literary figure. Reflecting the worst of this, the HJ page is a ghastly mess of qualifiers. Surely the HJ Sexuality academia industry should be reigned here with a single statement, rather than than all over the shop as it is at present. Something as straightforward as possible, along the lines of: 'HJ's subtleties, ambiguities, and evasions have made his sexuality a minefield for scholars. Most presume he was either homosexual or bisexual, but whether he ever had sexual intercourse with another male cannot be conclusively proven." Engleham 24 July 2006 And whether he ever had sexual intercourse with a woman ?

Any article about James is going to need some qualifiers. That's just the nature of the beast (in the jungle). But I don't think the article is "ghastly." Judging from its selection as an FA and its recent inclusion in the Version 0.5 project, the article looks pretty good to outside reviewers compared to most on Wikipedia. The introduction of quotes from James' letters in the Life section slightly expands the article, but hardly turns it into a mess. After all, some mention should be made of Woolson and Andersen, because they take up so much space in the biographies. And it doesn't hurt to have some examples of James' letters in the section.
If the Life section expanded to ten times its previous size, that would be a little ridiculous. But it's still quite short compared to the article overall. As for your suggested statement, the article already says that the issue as to whether James ever experienced an actual sexual relationship may well be irresolvable. Right now I think the Life section is reasonably complete, balanced and qualified—and far from a ghastly mess. It's only about 900 words, after all, though I'll admit that footnotes are splattered all over. But the footnotes are the price of FA status. As I've said before, down the road we might want to spin off a separate, much longer biographical article on James. Casey Abell 13:44, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Just did a complete word count. The Life section amounts to about 900 words out of 5600 in the entire article (exclusive of footnotes, which I'll concede are out of control, but I had to consent to them to get the article through FAC). Hardly seems unreasonable that about one-sixth of the article should be devoted to the biography. One reviewer on FAC wanted 10,000 words about The Portrait of a Lady alone. Casey Abell 14:15, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

As usual, allegations without proof. Wikipedia's biographical equivalent of cinematic car chases and explosions.Lestrade (talk) 00:28, 24 July 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

proposed new external link[edit]

I'd like to add a link like:

to the 'External Links' section. This links to a list of James works that you can download to read on a cell phone. I have read quite a few from this site and got a lot of value out being able to read the PD texts away from the PC.

The texts are Public Domain in the US, just like Project Gutenberg, they are packaged with the reader and available under a creative commons licence (share if (attribution, non-commercial, no derivative) ). The site is non-commercial without registration, subscription, or advertising. The texts as packaged together with the reader as a java program that runs on cell phones, this is a way for people to access the authors work that adds to the range in the existing external links (hopefully translating to more reading going on).

I checked WP:EL and the link seems appropriate:

  • What should be linked: '...should link to a site hosting a copy of the work if none of the "Links normally to be avoided" criteria apply.'
  • Links normally to be avoided: it seems only #8 might apply; 'Direct links to documents that require external applications (such as Flash or Java) to view the relevant content...'. The site lets you download java programs that only run on a J2ME environment, this means most/all current cell phones. So although they are limited to being read on a phone they do add an access method to all the others in the existing External Links, in the same way that LibriVox adds a format but requires an mp3 player.

Filomath 13:06, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

partial redraft[edit]

I have begun and am now posting a partial redraft of the whole article, tightening the initial summary, adding detail to the biography (particularly to take fuller account of James's theatrical work), and adding fuller discussion of the secondary literature. I am interrupted at this stage, but will add some further details and full citations in the bibliography as soon as I can. I have not deleted anything of substance, except a paragraph-long footnote on James "failure" at Harvard, a curious way to describe the beginning of his literary career.Sheldon Novick (talk) 17:38, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't nkow how you'll like it, but I've redrafted the Psychological Characterisations section. Mostly this was a matter of moving material around to put like with like, as it seemed to have grown by a process of accretion so that the section as a whole lacked coherence. One major departure from this was to move part of a footnote up into the main text - it seemed to be quite important information, and footnotes should best be kept for references. I've also edited some material out altogether, where it seemed to be extremely minor and to interrupt the expository flow. PiCo (talk) 02:56, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Thank you, the changes were needed.

I have now posted most of my overall revision of the article, which seemed to need updating and revisions for clarity and focus. As PiCo notes, it has been growing by accretion. Of course, no criticism of enormous and valuable work that has already gone into the article is intended. The main changes are organizational - separating the account of James's life and career from the various interpretations and commentaries. Other changes I hope are self-explanatory - mostly adding recent criticism and a wider view of the secondary literature. I have deleted only some minor comments, mostly in footnotes, that seem repetitive or our of proportion to the topic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sheldon Novick (talkcontribs) 21:52, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Dr. Watson has reverted a couple of paragraphs of my redraft without comment or explanation, and as his one-paragraph version has some errors and omissions (confusing Bologna and Boulogne, for instance) I have reverted to my version. Would be glad to hear what objections he has.Sheldon Novick (talk) 21:04, 10 May 2008 (UTC)


While Wells did in fact say those words, the source cited in fn. 24 does not now seem to have the word hippo in it. Kdammers (talk) 04:41, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Sexual incapacity?[edit]

According to this article, there is "general belief" that James was sexually incapable due to an "unfortunate household accident ... early in life" (I disclaim all responsibility for the egregious coyness). Any confirmation, either for the accident or for the assertion that this is "general belief"? Cactus Wren (talk) 08:35, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Versions of this silly story constantly reappear, partly because of Ernest Hemingway's fascination with such gossip. (See "James and Hemingway," above.)The slim basis is the mention in James's memoirs of father and brother that he suffered an "obscure hurt" while pumping water for a volunteer fire brigade; all biographers agree that the obscure - i.e. hidden - hurt was his back trouble, which is well documented. There is an Internet legend now circulating that he sat on a hot stove, for which there is not even the justification of a misunderstanding. So, no "general belief" and most likely no impotence. But you can't kill a juicy rumor. Sheldon Novick (talk) 02:38, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I've had that story told me in utter earnestness. Though the idea that James was at some point castrated (and the possibility of Jamesian testes pickling in a jar somewhere) does set my heart aflutter.
Just sayin' the roof of this court is too high to be yours (talk) 23:06, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

Marianne Moore comments[edit]

Marianne Moore has some interesting things to say about James. Two essays' worth, I think. If someone can find a legitimate link to these comments, that would be good to include. Someone could also incorporate some quotes from her into the article. (talk) 22:28, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

British author?[edit]

The article says James was an expatriate, presumably his patria being the United States. If James is an American-born British novelist, as the article states, was Auden a British-born American poet? All the literary anthologies I've used consider James an American writer and Auden a British poet. Did anyone in England consider James British? Jim Lacey (talk) 20:25, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

I'd say that's a very good question, and that the burden of proof is on the article to prove its claim that James is a British author (because he is in the categories of both American authors and British authors). I'd say that at present, the article does not sufficiently prove that James was British, gives no dates of his move(s) to Britain, and only establishes that he became a British citizen "shortly before his death." Does that mean on his deathbed? If so, I hardly think that counts, no matter if he has an OM or not. More specific info is needed in the article about all of this stuff, and citations from authoritative works (non-British, I'd say) that consider him a British author (or American author). If most of his subject matter was American, I'd say the fact that, like Hemingway, he lived abroad doesn't matter. I'm not convinced from the article that Britain has as much right to claim him as it does Joseph Conrad. Also, take a look at the T.S. Eliot article. All of that said, the article should cover both sides of the issue/debate, rather than making a unilateral uncited/unproven claim. Softlavender (talk) 11:41, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Update: Edited for neutrality and added dates. Softlavender (talk) 12:10, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't think you can really say he was a British author, despite the fact that he lived much of his life in Britain and took British nationality in 1915 (I added a reference to an article that discusses the date on which he did this). He was staunchly American, even though he probably considered himself a foreigner after living abroad for so many years. He did, after all, call his summation of his works the New York edition, not the Rye edition. I changed the lead accordingly, to say "was an American author who expatriated to England, and who acquired British nationality near the end of his life"Kirkmc (talk) 15:11, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Additional Book?[edit]

I came across a book recently not listed in the bibliography called "The Art of the Novel" by Henry James, a collection of prefaces written by the authour of all of his novels. Just thought it should be included somewhere. ASybariteLife (talk) 05:52, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

The Three Periods[edit]

This article could require clarification re the three periods into which James' work is customarily divided. Here the three periods are given unclear outline and no useful source for a fuller discussion of those periods is provided. Here the first period is said to extend up to and including Portrait of a Lady but I have frequently seen Portrait identified as a middle period work. If there is disagreement, perhaps that could be incorporated into the article. mcoverdale (talk) 16:49, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Hello friend! Just about the " Henry James" life on Wikipedia. "He was the son of Henry James, Sr., a clergyman, and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James." What is the meaning of "clergyman" in this context? Thanks a lot in advance! (talk) 09:34, 19 August 2012 (UTC) was Henry James Sr. studied at the Princeton Theological Seminary but did not complete his studies and was never ordained. He later became an enthusiastic (but idiosyncratic) Swedenborgian, writing and lecturing on Swedenborg-flavoured theological topics. But I think "clergyman" (and "theologian", as he's described in the article Henry James, Sr.) are probably inaccurate and should be changed. Thanks a lot in advance for your contributions on the topic! (talk) 17:07, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

"The story of It" publication date?[edit]

Does anyone know the publication year of "The Story of It"? I added it to the bibliography but I couldn't find the year of publication anywhere. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Executive Editor at MC (talkcontribs) 13:56, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Uncited information[edit]

There are tags that are three years old for uncited text - and WP:Original research tag. Perhaps someone knows of sources for the following:

under Career in letters[edit]

  • end of 1st paragraph: that reflected a lifelong interest in the actor's art. From an early age James read, criticised, and learned from the classics of English, American, French, Italian, German and (in translation) Russian literature. In 1863, he anonymously published his first short story, A Tragedy of Error. Until his fiftieth year he supported himself by writing, principally by contributing extensively to illustrated monthly magazines in the United States and Great Britain, but after his sister's death in 1892 his royalties were supplemented by a modest income from the family's properties in Syracuse, New York.
  • Until late in life his novels were serialised in magazines before book publication, and he wrote the monthly instalments as they were due, allowing him little opportunity to revise the final work. To supplement his income he also wrote frequently for newspapers, and from 1863 to his death he maintained a strenuous schedule of publication in a variety of genres and media. In his criticism of fiction, the theatre, and painting he developed ideas concerning the unity of the arts; he wrote two full-length biographies, two volumes of memoirs of his childhood and a long fragment of autobiography; 22 novels, including two left unfinished at his death, 112 tales of varying lengths, fifteen plays, and dozens of travel and topical essays.
  • He heavily revised his major novels and many of his stories for a selected edition of his fiction, whose twenty-three volumes formed an artistic autobiography which he called "The New York Edition" to emphasise his continuing ties to the city of his birth. In his essay The Art of Fiction, and in prefaces to each volume of The New York Edition, James explained his views of the art of fiction, emphasising the importance to him of realist portrayals of character as seen through the eyes and thoughts of an embodied narrator.
  • Biographer Leon Edel was the first to call attention to the importance of the "theatrical years" 1890–1895 for James's later work. Following the commercial failure of his novel The Tragic Muse, in 1890, James renounced novel writing and dedicated himself to short fiction and plays, which he described as related forms. Between 1890 and 1895, he sketched in his notebooks plots and themes of nearly all his later novels, which he first conceived as short stories or plays. The structure of his late novels was "scenic" in James's special sense, in that they followed the scene-by-scene structure of a French play in the classical mode, and he freely translated short stories into plays and vice versa. The use of an observer's consciousness and the sense of the action as a performance became most marked in James's fiction in and after the 1890s. Failing to make a commercial success on the stage, however, and finding that the stresses of theatrical work were difficult to sustain, he returned to the writing of long, serialised novels, which again became the mainstay of his income. With his new private income as well, he was able to maintain a country house and rooms in London.
  • James returned to the United States in 1904–1905 for a lecture tour to recoup his finances and to visit his family. His essays describing that visit, published as The American Scene, were perhaps his most important work of social commentary. In them he described the rise of commerce and democracy, the impact of free immigration on American culture, and his agonised sense that his deeply felt American nationality was threatened by these upheavals.--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

under James biographers[edit]

  • This seemed to support literary critics like Van Wyck Brooks and Vernon Parrington who had condemned James's expatriation and criticised his work as effeminate and deracinated; Leon Edel used it as the premise of his influential biography which held the field for many years.--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

under Style and Theme[edit]

  • and observers do often group his works of fiction into three periods. In his apprentice years, culminating with the masterwork The Portrait of a Lady, [citation needed]his style was simple and direct (by the standards of Victorian magazine writing) and he experimented widely with forms and methods, generally narrating from a conventionally omniscient point of view. Plots generally concern romance, except for the three big novels of social commentary that conclude this period. In the second period, as noted above, he abandoned the serialised novel and from 1890 to about 1897 [citation needed]
  • Some critics[who?] have claimed that the more elaborate manner was a result of James taking up the practice of dictating to a secretary.
  • The late style does become more difficult in the years when he dictates, but James also was able to revise typewritten drafts more extensively, and his few surviving drafts show that the later works are more heavily revised and redrafted. In some cases this leads critics to prefer the earlier, unrevised versions of some works because the older style is thought to be closer to the original conception and spirit of the work, Daisy Miller being a case in point: most of the current reprints of this novel contain the unrevised text. On the other hand, the late revision of the early novel The Portrait of a Lady is generally much preferred to the first edition, even by those who dislike the late style, because of the power of the imagery and the depth of characterisation, while his shorter late fiction, such as The Turn of the Screw, is considered highly accessible and remains popular with readers.--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Short narratives[edit]

  • Just as the contrast between Europe and America was a predominant theme in James's early novels, many of his first tales also explored the clash between the Old World and the New. In "A Passionate Pilgrim" (1871), the earliest fiction that James included in the New York Edition, the difference between America and Europe erupts into open conflict, which leads to a sadly ironic ending. The story's technique still seems somewhat inexpert, with passages of local color description occasionally interrupting the flow of the narrative. But James manages to craft an interesting and believable example of what he would call the "Americano-European legend".
  • James published many stories before what would prove to be his greatest success with the readers of his time, "Daisy Miller" (1878). This story portrays the confused courtship of the title character, a free-spirited American girl, by Winterbourne, a compatriot of hers with much more sophistication. His pursuit of Daisy is hampered by her own flirtatiousness, which is frowned upon by the other expatriates they meet in Switzerland and Italy. Her lack of understanding of the social mores of the society she so desperately wishes to enter ultimately leads to tragedy.
  • As James moved on from studies of the Europe-America clash and the American girl in his novels, his shorter works also explored new subjects in the 1880s. "The Aspern Papers" (1888) is one of James's best-known and most acclaimed longer tales. The storyline is based on an anecdote that James heard about a Shelley devotee who tried to obtain some valuable letters written by the poet. Set in a brilliantly described Venice, the story demonstrates James's ability to generate almost unbearable suspense while never neglecting the development of his characters. Another fine example of the middle phase of James's career in short narrative is "The Pupil" (1891), the story of a precocious young boy growing up in a mendacious and dishonorable family. He befriends his tutor, who is the only adult in his life that he can trust. James presents their relationship with sympathy and insight, and the story reaches what some have considered the status of classical tragedy.
  • "The Altar of the Dead", first published in James's collection Terminations in 1895 after the story failed of magazine publication, is a fable of literally life and death significance. The story explores how the protagonist tries to keep the remembrance of his dead friends, to save them from being forgotten entirely in the rush of everyday events. He meets a woman who shares his ideals, only to find that the past places what seems to be an impassable barrier between them. Although James was not religious in any conventional sense, the story shows a deep spirituality in its treatment of mortality and the transcendent power of unselfish love.
  • The final phase of James's short narratives shows the same characteristics as the final phase of his novels: a more involved style, a deeper psychological approach, and a sharper focus on his central characters. Probably his most popular short narrative among today's readers, "The Turn of the Screw" (1898) is a ghost story that has lent itself well to operatic and film adaptation. With its possibly ambiguous content and powerful narrative technique, the story challenges the reader to determine if the protagonist, an unnamed governess, is correctly reporting events or is instead an unreliable neurotic with an overheated imagination. To further muddy the waters, her written account of the experience—a frame tale—is being read many years later at a Christmas house party by someone who claims to have known her.
  • "The Beast in the Jungle" (1903) is almost universally considered to be one of James's finest short narratives, and has often been compared with The Ambassadors in its meditation on experience or the lack of it. The story also treats other universal themes: loneliness, fate, love and death. The parable of John Marcher and his peculiar destiny speaks to anyone who has speculated on the worth and meaning of human life. Among his last efforts in short narrative, "The Jolly Corner" (1908) is usually held to be one of James's best ghost stories. The tale describes the adventures of Spencer Brydon as he prowls the now-empty New York house where he grew up. Brydon encounters a "sensation more complex than had ever before found itself consistent with sanity".--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

under major novels[edit]

  • James believed a novel must be organic. Parts of the novel need to go together and the relationship must fit the form. If a reader enjoys a work of art or piece of writing, then they must be able to explain why. The very fact that every reader has different tastes, lends to the belief that artists should have artistic freedom to write in any way they choose to talk about subject matter that could possibly interest everyone.
  • Although Roderick Hudson featured mostly American characters in a European setting, James made the Europe–America contrast even more explicit in his next novel. In fact, the contrast could be considered the leading theme of The American (1877). This book is a combination of social comedy and melodrama concerning the adventures and misadventures of Christopher Newman, an essentially good-hearted but rather gauche American businessman on his first tour of Europe. Newman is looking for a world different from the simple, harsh realities of 19th-century American business. He encounters both the beauty and the ugliness of Europe, and learns not to take either for granted.
  • Washington Square (1880) is a deceptively simple tragicomedy that recounts the conflict between a dull but sweet daughter and her brilliant, domineering father. The book is often compared to Jane Austen's work for the clarity and grace of its prose and its intense focus on family relationships. James was not particularly enthusiastic about Jane Austen, so he might not have regarded the comparison as flattering. In fact, James was not enthusiastic about Washington Square itself. He tried to read it over for inclusion in the New York Edition of his fiction (1907–09) but found that he could not. So he excluded the novel from the edition. But other readers have enjoyed the book enough to make it one of the popular works in the Jamesian canon. Washington Square was turned into a dramatic musical-opera in 1972 by Jerome Walman.
  • The Bostonians (1886) is a bittersweet tragicomedy that centres on Basil Ransom, an unbending political conservative from Mississippi; Olive Chancellor, Ransom's cousin and a zealous Boston feminist; and Verena Tarrant, a pretty protégée of Olive's in the feminist movement. The storyline concerns the contest 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.
  • James followed with The Princess Casamassima (1886), the story of an intelligent but confused young London bookbinder, Hyacinth Robinson, who becomes involved in far left politics and a terrorist assassination plot. The book is something of a lone sport in the Jamesian canon for dealing with such a violent political subject. But it is often paired with The Bostonians, which is also concerned with political issues.
  • Just as James was beginning his ultimately disastrous attempt to conquer the stage, he wrote The Tragic Muse (1890). This novel offers a wide, cheerful panorama of English life and follows the fortunes of two would-be artists: Nick Dormer, who vacillates between a political career and his efforts to become a painter, and Miriam Rooth, an actress striving for artistic and commercial success. A huge cast of supporting characters help and hinder their pursuits. The book reflects James's consuming interest in the theatre and is often considered to mark the close of the second or middle phase of his career.
  • After the failure of his "dramatic experiment" James returned to his fiction and began to probe his characters' consciousness. His style started to grow in complexity to reflect the greater depth of his analysis. The Spoils of Poynton (1897) is a half-length novel that describes the struggle between Mrs. Gereth, a widow of impeccable taste and iron will, and her son Owen over a houseful of precious antique furniture. The story is largely told from the viewpoint of Fleda Vetch, a young woman in love with Owen but sympathetic to Mrs Gereth's anguish over losing the antiques she patiently collected.
  • James continued the more involved, psychological approach to his fiction with What Maisie Knew (1897), the story of the sensitive daughter of divorced and irresponsible parents. The novel has great contemporary relevance as an unflinching account of a wildly dysfunctional family.
  • The next published of the three novels, The Ambassadors (1903), is a dark comedy that follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of his widowed fiancée's supposedly wayward son. Strether is to bring the young man back to the family business, but he encounters unexpected complications. The third-person narrative is told exclusively from Strether's point of view. In his preface to the New York Edition text of the novel, James placed this book at the top of his achievements, which has occasioned some critical disagreement. The Golden Bowl (1904) is a complex, intense study of marriage and adultery that completes the "major phase" and, essentially, James's career in the novel. The book explores the tangle of interrelationships between a father and daughter and their respective spouses. The novel focuses deeply and almost exclusively on the consciousness of the central characters, with sometimes obsessive detail and powerful insight.

--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

under Life section[edit]

  • His brother is William James the philosopher. In his youth James travelled back and forth between Europe and America. He studied with tutors in Geneva, London, Paris, Bologna, and Bonn. At the age of 19 he briefly attended Harvard Law School, but preferred reading literature to studying law. James published his first short story, A Tragedy of Error, at age 21, and devoted himself to literature. In 1866–69 and 1871–72 he was a contributor to The Nation and Atlantic Monthly.
  • From an early age James read the classics of English, American, French and German literature, and Russian classics in translation. His first novel, Watch and Ward (1871), was written while travelling through Venice and Paris. After living in Paris, where he was contributor to the New York Tribune, James moved to England in 1876, living first in London and then in Rye, Sussex. During his first years in Europe James wrote novels that portrayed Americans living abroad. In 1905 James visited America for the first time in twenty-five years, and wrote "Jolly Corner".
  • Among James's masterpieces are Daisy Miller (1879); in which the eponymous protagonist, the young and innocent American Daisy Miller, finds her values in conflict with European sophistication; and The Portrait of a Lady (1881), in which a young American woman finds that her upbringing has ill prepared her against two scheming American expatriates during her travels in Europe. The Bostonians (1886) is set in the era of the rising feminist movement. What Maisie Knew (1897) depicts a pre-adolescent girl who must choose between her parents and a motherly old governess. In The Wings of the Dove (1902) an inheritance destroys the love of a young couple. James considered The Ambassadors (1903) his most "perfect" work of art. James's most famous novella is The Turn of the Screw, a ghost story in which the question of childhood corruption obsesses a governess. Although James is best known for his novels, his essays are now attracting a more general audience.
  • Between 1906 and 1910 James revised many of his tales and novels for the New York edition of his complete works. His autobiography, A Small Boy And Others, appeared in 1913 and was continued in Notes Of A Son And Brother (1914). The third volume, The Middle Years, appeared posthumously in 1917. The outbreak of World War I was a shock for James, and on 26 July 1915, he became a British citizen as a declaration of loyalty to his adopted country and in protest against America's refusal to enter the war.[1] James suffered a stroke on 2 December 1915, and it soon became apparent that his prognosis was not good. The novelist, now seriously ill, was awarded the Order of Merit, bestowed on 1 January 1916. His health continued to decline and he died in London on 28 February 1916. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and his ashes are interred at Cambridge, Massachusetts.--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Striking out the parts that are being moved back to the article.--CaroleHenson (talk) 03:43, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Found the actual source for the first bulleted paragraph and there are close paraphrase/copy violation issues, particularly as the content was originally written (i.e., before my edits and info from another source): Harold Bloom. (1 January 2009) [2001]. Henry James. Infobase Publishing, originally published by Chelsea House. ISBN 978-1-4381-1601-3.--CaroleHenson (talk) 04:20, 24 January 2014 (UTC)


More big blocks of uncited and tagged potential Original research issues:

  • Early biographies of James echoed the unflattering picture of him drawn in early criticism. F.W. Dupee, as noted above, characterised James as neurotically withdrawn and fearful, and although Dupee lacked access to primary materials his view has remained persuasive in academic circles, partly because Leon Edel's massive five-volume work, published from 1953 to 1972, seemed to buttress it with extensive documentation. Michael Anesko, Fred Kaplan, and Sheldon Novick, working from primary materials, have disputed the factual basis of Dupee's and Edel's accounts. Other critics and biographers have disputed Edel's interpretations and conclusions. James has also figured in at least a half-dozen novels. Colm Tóibín used an extensive list of biographies of Henry James and his family for his widely admired 2004 novel, The Master, which is a third person narrative with James as the central character, and deals with specific episodes from his life during the period between 1895 and 1899. Author, Author, a novel by David Lodge published in the same year, was based on James's efforts to conquer the stage in the 1890s. In 2002 Emma Tennant published Felony: The Private History of The Aspern Papers, a novel that fictionalised the relationship between James and American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson and the possible effects of that relationship on The Aspern Papers.
  • The published criticism of James's work has reached enormous proportions. The volume of criticism of The Turn of the Screw alone has become extremely large for such a brief work. The Henry James Review, published three times a year, offers criticism of James's entire range of writings, and many other articles and book-length studies appear regularly. Some guides to this extensive literature can be found on the external sites listed below.

--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:44, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

List if works by Henry James[edit]

Any thoughts about moving his list of works to a separate page - to keep the long article focused on his biography?--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:56, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Article improvement ideas[edit]

Here are some ideas that I'm thinking about to improve the article:

  • Create a new section "notes", rename "notes" to citations and attempt to isolate where there are actual sources and where inline citations are needed
  • Identify which of the "sources" are actually used in the article, where possible and put others in a "Further reading section
  • Providing citation information for the content that does not really have a citation
  • Move "works" over into it's own article, like Mark Twain bibliography
  • Review the information that I moved to the talk page earlier to identify sources of information and move the content back.

That's my thinking - are there any other opinions about how to bring this back to a better condition? I am going to press on, but will be checking for responses to ensure we're in synch.--CaroleHenson (talk) 06:05, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Notes / citation example[edit]

I went to try and clear up one of the citation needed / notes issues and found that the section in question is in many books and the note was actually a footnote from within the book. But the books don't seem to have page numbers, they are PT numbers.

See Henry James#James' biographers last couple of sentences in that section.

I'm not sure how to handle this particular situations. Does anyone else know?--CaroleHenson (talk) 11:05, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

Hi Carole, nice work you're doing here! I think these books took this material from here, and if so, should have Template:Backwardscopy on the talk page. The books you link to seem to have been published in 2009 and if that material was added before (can be checked in history) then it's a pretty good bet that's what happened. Might not be a bad idea to rewrite the section too if it's hard to verify - but probably will need a James biography. If the text was added after 2009 (sorry, haven't checked!) then it's copyvio and should be removed. Victoria (tk) 17:38, 31 January 2014 (UTC)