The Real Thing
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The Real Thing

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  168 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Work by the prolific American-born author and literary critic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He spent much of his life in Europe and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for novels, novellas and short stories based on themes of consciousness and morality.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published May 4th 2007 by Dodo Press (first published 1892)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A down-and-out middle-aged couple, still proud of their youthful accomplishments as models, carrying themselves with an accustomed regal bearing, comes to the studio of a portrait-maker looking for a job.

I've never seen characters like them so brilliantly sketched in a short story of only twenty or so pages before. By the time it was winding up, I was completely pulled in, amazed that an immense pity had welled up from deep inside me for these luckless husband and wife.
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Daniel Apatiga
I thought it did a good job describing a stereotypical married couple, idealized by society since the man is an army major and the woman a model, as being, alas, dumb and uninteresting as subjects on a canvas, from the perspective of a painter artist. Not all are as incoherent and memorable as the ones described in this short story. I wasn't sure, after reading it, whether I thought the narrator's view that they were pretty but they had caused him permanent harm financially was actually the esse...more
I read this because my son has to read it for his Language Arts through American Literature class. I don't think he is going to like it but I sure did. Can't wait to discuss it with him and see what his impression is.
Alois Wittwer
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Douglas Dalrymple
Another comic James story, reminiscent in certain respects of The Liar, and just as good. Here we have two impeccably presentable gentlefolk fallen on difficult financial circumstances, intent on hiring themselves out as artists’ models. The unexpected twist of pathos at the end is especially compelling.

“She was the real thing, but always the same thing.”
Janelle Heirendt
Oct 21, 2009 Janelle Heirendt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Artists and lovers of short stories.
Recommended to Janelle by: Norton Anthology
This is an interesting study in class "demotion." It's actually quite sad -- Mr. and Mrs. Major's poverty makes them willing to eat their pride and work as servants, but their social background makes the situation too socially awkward for them to be hired on. They're so earnest and humble (despite some "inborn" classism), but James also makes their "rejection" very understandable. So the tension builds as you grow in pity and respect for the Majors while readily identifying with the main charact...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Hmmm... The narrator, an illustrator / painter, hires a couple as models for his work. Now this couple, the Monarchs, have lost alot of their money and really need some sort of work, the problem is that modelling just isn't for them...
read for my short story class. I took a Henry James class in college and remember thinking his stories were boring. Perhaps I am more mature now, or perhaps this story was better than the ones I had read. I really enjoyed it!
The ending killed it for me. It was a nice story about doing what's necessary to ensure your survival and way of life, but the comment about them fooling the guy just... made me sad.
Mia Germain
This is another one of my favorite short stories. James packs so much into this short, enjoyable story that it will leave your head spinning wondering if you've picked up on it all.
It's probably a combination of 1) having read this book as a REQUIREMENT in SCHOOL, and 2) not being MATURE enough to CHOOSE to GET IT.
But I didn't like this short story.
Major and Miss Monarch are some of the funniest characters I've read in a long time. They totally make this story!
Interesting piece that deals with social class; one cannot get out of one's social class.
The problem when the Real Thing poses as art.
my favorite of his 'ghost tales'
Available at LibriVox.
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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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