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Washington Square

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  14,404 Ratings  ·  1,050 Reviews
Washington Square follows the coming-of-age of its plain-faced, kindhearted heroine, Catherine Sloper. Much to her father’s vexation, a handsome opportunist named Morris Townsend woos the long-suffering heiress, intent on claiming her fortune. When Catherine stubbornly refuses to call off her engagement, Dr. Sloper forces Catherine to choose between her inheritance and the ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1880)
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If I close my eyes and ask myself what impression this book has left on me, the idea that comes immediately to mind is stillness. The stillness radiates from the main character, Catherine Sloper. I see her as a monumental figure in a hieratic pose, immobile, meek, but solid to the core.

Her immobility impressed me greatly, especially as this book is quite like a play. There is a lot of dialogue, a small number of characters, and one principal location where most of the important scenes take plac
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, o ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 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
Book Review
4 out of 5 stars for Washington Square, a classic novel written in 1880 by Henry James. Henry James is my favorite American realistic period or classic novelist, and Washington Square is an example of why. This man can take a small situation and write 300+ pages all about it. And this is one of his shorter books. In this classic, the tale of the average woman, who is set to inherit a large sum of money, meets dashing man... but of course, he's only after her money. She's considere
Nov 15, 2015 Perry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
" James Writes Fiction as if it were a Painful Duty "- Oscar Wilde
One of the Nicest Old Ladies I Ever Met-Faulkner, describing James

On my journey to read most of the modern "classics" as well as at least one novel by each renowned author, I've repeatedly avoided Henry James. Several years back I started on one and found myself daydreaming that my late grandmother was offering a sudsy soliloquy on a couple of "nice" and "clean" romances of her time (the 1930s). In all events, I finally opted for
Dec 24, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 16, 2017 Melki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fiction
James presents the story of a wealthy doctor's wholly unremarkable daughter, and her whirlwind
courtship with an untrustworthy gold digger.

While reading this book is certainly not the worst thing that will ever happen to you, the whole experience is a bit like having tea with your Aunt Gertrude: expect a staid, rather dull affair where everyone minds his or her manners, trivialities are discussed, and then all go home . . . lulled into complacency, but still feeling slightly peckish.
Jan 31, 2017 Malia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
I'm of two minds when it comes to this book. On the one hand, the writing and James' observations are exquisitely on point, and he is able to create such a fleshed out story with so little story-line. On the other, I disliked all the characters. I did sympathize with Catherine, and in a way, even with Morris, but I did not connect to them. I've found this to be the case with other books by Henry James as well as Edith Wharton. They are such masters of language, but for me, they are not as acutel ...more
Jun 02, 2017 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Poor Catherine! Her father Dr Sloper was absolutely vile and I just wanted to slap her horrible interfering, gossipy old aunt! Then there's Maurice Townsend, the gold digger...slimeball! My first Henry James but not my last!
Steven  Godin
Washington Square (1880) was originally published in two different magazines as a serial and Henry James himself didn't really think much of it as a small novel, and I would partly agree with that.
Structurally simple in it's approach the story basically recounts a conflict between father and daughter over her wishes to wed a gentleman called Morris Townsend, who he greatly disproves of.
The father, Dr. Sloper is a cold but intelligent man who after losing his wife seems to struggle with the reali
Doctor Sloper - who is definitely not Doctor Slop in Tristram Shandy, I don't think - is an exquisitely drawn character, and his etching here by James - who is definitely not E. L.; well, I'm pretty sure - is so remarkable that I can almost understand the lasting purchase.

Aunt Lavinia - who is definitely not Aunt Lavinia from Great Granny Webster; though, how many Aunt Lavinias can there be? - is similarly exquisitely drawn, if in less likable hues, and certainly less likable than the previous
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
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
Jim Fonseca
Oct 05, 2013 Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here we are in New York City in the mid-1880's, a bit before Edith Wharton's time, but in the same social milieu. This is a kind of novel of manners, a mid-19th Century soap opera. Our author is Henry James, so be prepared for the long, convoluted, comma- and semicomma-laden sentences akin to those of Jane Austen.

Yet a fascinating book. Catherine, more or less our heroine, is plain, stolid, timid, obedient and, quite frankly, a bit on the dull side. She lives in her father's house. With her moth
Henry Avila
Aug 03, 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 mansi ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Kaloyana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Взех книгата от библиотеката съвсем случайно. Името Хенри Джеймс ми бе познато, но не бях чела нищо от него и реших да пробвам. Взех я с още няколко книги, една от които "Безкраен празник" на Хемингуей. Именно там, доста изненадващо за мен, Хемингуей споменава, че Хенри Джеймс е любимият автор на жена му. Прочетох книгата веднага след това. И останах много, ама много очарована.
Хенри Джеймс е уникален психолог, познавач на човешката душа с всичките й терзания, възходи и падения. Пише в един прекр
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
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
Jul 07, 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
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 ...
Apr 22, 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
Jan 14, 2017 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a re-read. Although my rating hasn't changed, I thought I'd jot down a few things that occurred to me while listening to this.

This is my first experience with a Henry James audiobook, and the feeling was quite different from holding a book in one's hands and letting the eyes do the walking. For one, I found the narrator's voice a surprise: not completely an unpleasant one, but a distinct difference from the voice I heard in my head, when reading it. By this narrator's standards, Sloper i
Jan 01, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
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
Jan 24, 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
Jul 19, 2009 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 inexperi ...more
Jun 05, 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
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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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