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Henry James: The Mature Master
The New York Times compared Sheldon M. Novick’s Henry James: The Young Master to “a movie of James’s life, as it unfolds, moment to moment, lending the book a powerful immediacy.” Now, in Henry James: The Mature Master, Novick completes his super, revelatory two-volume account of one of the world’s most gifted and least understood authors, and of a vanished world of aristo ...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published November 13th 2007 by Random House
(first published 2007)
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Novick's account of James' life from 1885 to 1915 creates an impression of the man that renders him much more "alive" to me than any other biography of HJ that I have read. I have a very strong sense of the content of his inner life as well as the quality of his public behavior and interactions with peers, friends, acquaintances, rivals and enemies. I can't say that I would have enjoyed his company, but at least I have a sufficiently dense and textured sense of the man that I can make such a ...more
Quite a let-down. The first volume was well written, well researched, and told a story of a life. This volume is fragmented, and not in a cutesy "oh look how our lives are fragmented and can never be unified" post-structuralist kind of way. It's fragmented in a "I can't be bothered relating this half page to the half page preceding it or the half page following it" kind of way. It feels like Novick just couldn't be bothered matching the extremely high standard he'd set himself.
The second volume of a truly great biography. For those who worry about their life seeming to move too slowly, Novick presents a man who from 38 onwards found artistic triumphs and personal/sexual satisfaction, a man of deep feeling who was all too human. A bit clunky every fifty pages or so, but great storytelling.