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Washington Square

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  13,643 Ratings  ·  980 Reviews
Henry James's classic tale of romance in urban nineteenth-century America, Washington Square is edited with an introduction and notes by Martha Banta in Penguin Classics.

When timid and plain Catherine Sloper is courted by the dashing and determined Morris Townsend, her father, convinced that the young man is nothing more than a fortune-hunter, delivers an ultimatum: break
Paperback, 205 pages
Published June 28th 2007 by Penguin Classics (first published 1880)
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I love this book so much I can't bear it. As someone who adores just about every last word that Henry James (over-) wrote, it has never gotten any more deliciously (un-)satisfying than this -- a slim, tart little novel about plain, socially unpromising Catherine Sloper, whose wealthy father refuses to allow her to marry Morris Townsend, whom he believes to be mercenary. No matter how many times I read this book, the question still nags at me: "Does Morris have any feeling at all for Catherine, ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 26, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Henry James is Gangnam style
Gangnam style

Catherine Sloper is warm and humanle during the day
A classy girl who know how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee
A girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes
A girl with that kind of twist

I’m a guy called Morris Townsend
A guy who is as warm as you during the day
A guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down
A guy whose heart bursts when night comes
That kind of guy

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, Catherine Sloper, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Jan 02, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first completed book of the year and one that has totally altered my view of Henry James and his fiction. Instead of being what I had thought of as the somber "master" of cold 19th century fiction, he is a man with sharp and perceptive humor, a clever sense of inequalities between sexes and in society. My enlightenment is partially responsible for my rating, though I also enjoyed the novel!

The story is really quite simple...wealthy father knows what is best for future heiress daughter. Rogue
Sep 21, 2016 Perry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"One of the Nicest Old Ladies I Ever Met"

In my endeavors to read nearly all the classics and at least one novel by each renowned author, I've repeatedly avoided Henry James. I think several years back I started on one of his novels and found it like being lectured by my grandmother. In any case, I finally chose Washington Square recently, primarily because it's James' shortest novel.

Despite its pretty turns of prose, I found this both passionless and soporific, with characters so brittle and
Jul 18, 2007 HRH rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who don't need resolution
I had read Daisy Miller and enjoyed it so I thought I would like another Henry James novel, Washington Square. Furthermore, one of the remarks on the cover said something about the man writing as good a family story as Jane Austen. What could be better?

A lot of things actually.

I even read somewhere that James didn't like the novel so he didn't include it in his anthology. I'm surprised he made it through the first time knowing the ending as he presumably did.
Staged in New York City, Washington
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Some truly monstrous fathers can be found among the great works of fiction. Shakespeare's King Lear and Titus Andronicus certainly come to mind, or Hardy's 'Michael Henchard', and 'Laius of Thebes' may be the worst of the lot. Having just finished reading Henry James's Washington Square I am now fully prepared to add Doctor Austin Sloper to my top-ten list of 'Worst Fathers of Fiction'.

Washington Square is a short novel (more a novella) by Henry James written in 1880, and is really an excellent
Henry Avila
Dec 13, 2012 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time the 1840's, in New York City.Catherine Sloper, a twenty-one year old woman.Daughter of a prominent and wealthy doctor.You'd think all the young men would be trying to marry her.But Catherine is plain of face and very shy.There's a good probability, that she'll remain a spinster, till the end of life. Catherine adores her father, and is intimidated in his presence.A very intelligent man, Dr.Austin Sloper is.The widower, invites his widow sister Lavinia, to stay at the Washington Square ...more
A lovely classic about a young girl trapped between her lover and her spiteful father.

Catherine Sloper, a somewhat plain young girl, falls in love with a dashing but poor young man, Morris Townsend. Catherine's father does not support their union (in fact he doesn't support anything when it comes to Catherine), claiming that Morris is a gold-digger with no profession. Threatening to disinherit Catherine if she marries Morris, she is torn between following her heart and her father's wishes.

I did
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classic" books for the first time, then file reports on whether or not I think they deserve the label

Book #10: Washington Square, by Henry James (1880)

The story in a nutshell:
Agreed by most to definitely be one of his minor works, Washington Square i
Jennifer (aka EM)
3.75 for now.


Just a quick couple of notes: this is a novella. I felt that it was not the right length for James to make completely free use of those convoluted, tortured, serpentine sentences that portray inner turmoil and complex human relationships so well, as in The Portrait of a Lady.

Also, I understand it to be one of his earlier works, and therefore perhaps his style was still developing. I don't know; I'm no James scholar.

But I must say, I *love* the way he gets on the page the s
Maria Thomarey
Nov 02, 2015 Maria Thomarey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Αγαπώ αυτο το διαμαντάκι , που ειναι αφιερωμένο στην αγαπη απ'οπου κι αν προέρχεται ...
Jul 27, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: henry-james
An early work by Henry James (1880) and rather brief, The plot is straightforward. Dr Sloper lives with his daughter Catherine and hus widowed sister Mrs Penniman. They live in Washington Square and Sr Sloper is reasonably well off and Catherine also has some money left by her mother. Dr Sloper (and the narrator) describe Catherine as rather plain and unitelligent. Into this family scene enters Morris Townsend, a very handsome and penniless young man who woos Catherine (and charms Mrs Penniman) ...more
Jun 04, 2007 Katey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I did not like any character in this book, and found myself actually despising Catherine the most(close runner-up: Dr. Sloper, her father). The only part of the entire novel that was even remotely likable was the last few chapters, and Catherine redeemed herself a bit for me in the end. James' actual writing is quite good of course (hence my 2 star instead of 1 star rating), but I would have to disagree with an assessment from Graham Greene that was on the back sleeve of my copy: "The delicate, ...more
Mar 19, 2013 Dolors rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
My second book by James and I still remain unimpressed when comparing him to Lawrence, Hardy or the Brontë sisters. Even to Austen.
I know he writes about different times, different places and with different aims, but even though I appreciate his correct and composed style, I miss the passionate accounts of other classic authors.
In "Washington Square" the setting takes place in the late XIXth New York where we are introduced to the Sloper family, consisting basically of the well respected and int
Apr 02, 2016 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: henry-james
First, I am grateful that I did not grow up during the Victorian period. Second I'm not a big fan of Henry James.

Washington Square (1880) by Henry James

The plot is based on a real story told to Henry James by his dear friend Fanny Kemble. James was not a great fan of Washington Square itself. He tried to read it over for inclusion in the New York Edition of his fiction (1907–1909) but found that he could not, and the novel was not included. “He dismissed it as one of his unhappy accidents.”

Feb 22, 2016 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WASHINGTON SQUARE. (1881). Henry James. *****.
This was another short novel by James, but this time he managed to portray his protagonists to a tee. There are only a few main characters: Dr. Sloper – a successful physician in New York who has made it to his dream home near Washington Square; Catherine – his daughter in her late teens who is implicitly obedient to her father’s wishes; Mr. Morris Townsend – a young gentleman who became attracted to Catherine, most likely because of the money she ca
Aug 27, 2010 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads-2010
James is an emotionally insightful and understated author. Re-reading “Wahsington Squre” reminded me how of that. Catherine is an average 1870’s New Yorker in every way except one; she’s an heiress. Her mother died when she was very young leaving her $10,000 a year. She’s set to inherit double that amount from her doctor father. It seems the money is important to everyone but her. Her Aunt Pennyman, her surrogate mother, urges her to encourage Morris, a fortune hunter. Since Catherine’s ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: themaster, ficciones
This life had, however, a secret history as well as a public one.

I'm surprised to learn that James excluded 'Washington Square' from the New York Edition of his works; it strikes me as the best of the novels to precede 'The Portrait of a Lady' (although I haven't yet read 'The American' or 'Daisy Miller'). The characters are more complex, the story more ambitious--ah, that richly characteristic Jamesian brew of duplicity, emotional aggression, half-known secret history!--than anything to be foun

Call me idealistic, but to me the point of calling someone a heroine, is reserved for someone at the least having qualities that surprise you, or that maybe make you sympathize for that person, through whatever happens to them in the story, or their thoughts.
What goes on in Catherine's mind? Who will ever know? I only felt uncomfortable while reading this book. Not an enjoyable read for me. I suppose you could say it is always a better description of any book, to do at least that, make you cring
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
3.5 stars.

This is a very readable but rather peculiar little book. I studied this in first year university English and haven't reread it in the fifteen years since. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this.

Essentially, it's the story of a plain and obedient young woman. A very good looking young man who likes the luxury things in life but doesn't have the money to support his lifestyle falls madly in love with her. But her father decides that said young man is a gold digger, a
Oct 29, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Catherine doesn't seem to please her Father very much....he isn't impressed by her looks, her stature, her dress sense or her intellect, and, is quite happy to allow his widowed Sister to take charge of her upbringing and education.
A successful and wealthy society Doctor, he seems to think that his Daughter is rather a poor substitute for the adored Son and Wife who have both passed fact, he feels that it's probably a good thing that his beautiful wife didn't have to endure the d
Jan 01, 2013 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colleen Wainwright
There are great gaps in my literary education, and Henry James' oeuvre is—are?—one of them.

I fell in love with this story watching the classic screen version with Olivia DeHavilland and Monty Clift. It stands alone as an outstanding piece of entertainment, but, like most films based on books, only begins to get at the emotional nuances of the original novella. (Or maybe it *is* a novel, but given how long everyone wrote back then, especially James, it feels like a novella.)

Even though it's set
Jul 16, 2012 Ayrinne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La prima notazione che voglio fare è che per me Henry James soffriva di personalità multipla perchè non è possibile che sia lo stesso autore di Ritratto di signora, non si inzuccano in nulla i due romanzi, come stile e come personaggi e come modo di portare avanti una storia.

Inizialmente ho pensato che rispetto ad altre cose che avevo letto di James fosse troppo semplice stilisticamente, troppo "fuori stile" appunto (vabbè che non ho letto un suo romanzo che sia uguale a un altro) poi invece mi
Raül De Tena
Jun 20, 2014 Raül De Tena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A día de hoy, bien pudiera parecer que el lector interesado en obras clásicas sólo tiene una salida: las ediciones de bolsillo de diseño horrible y papel barato que proporcionan un placer sensorial inversamente proporcional al placer lector que se le presupone a estos libros imprescindibles. O, en el caso de que haya suerte, también se pueden encontrar tochacos carísimos y cuidadísimos en el contenido (no necesariamente en lo estético) más pensados para catedráticos con fajos de billetes en los ...more
Nov 03, 2009 Samantha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 01, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Washington Square marks the first of what will probably be several books visited because of my recent reading of Reading Lolita in Tehran. I'm pretty sure the only James I had read prior to this book was Daisy Miller, which I read for literature classes in both high school and college. I remember distinctly disliking it in high school (because "nothing happens and it just ends") although I think I did like it more the second time around.

Washington Square is the story of Miss Catherine Sloper, a
No ano passado, li o meu primeiro livro de Henry James: Daisy Miller acabou por ser uma espécie de desilusão pois, apesar de ter gostado da escrita, não fiquei cativada pelas personagens ou pelo enredo. Washington Square é a segunda tentativa com este autor clássico e, se posso dizer que aqui fiquei mais bem impressionada, nem por isso posso dizer que o autor me convenceu completamente.

Na primeira metade do século XIX, encontramos o médico Austin Sloper, um nova-iorquino honesto e trabalhador, q
Feb 09, 2008 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the ...more
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“Don’t underestimate the value of irony—it is extremely valuable.” 95 likes
“do you think it is
better to be clever than to be good?”
“Good for what?” asked the Doctor. “You are good for
nothing unless you are clever.”
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