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Henry James
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Die Erbin vom Washington Square : Roman

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  10,980 ratings  ·  788 reviews
What Catherine Sloper lacks in brains and beauty, she makes up for by being "very good." The handsome Morris Townsend would do anything to win her hand-even if it means pretending that he loves the homely ingénue, and cares nothing for her opulent wealth.
Published (first published 1880)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily
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
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
Y
...more
Sue
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
...more
HRH
Jul 18, 2007 HRH rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Henry Avila
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
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
...more
Christopher H.
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
...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. 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
...more
Paul
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
Carol
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.”

It
...more
Cynthia
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
Katey
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
Eric
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
...more
Dolors
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
...more
Shannon
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
...more
julieta

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
...more
Célia
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
...more
Samantha
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Carol
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Rhayna Kramer
After watching the award-winning movie, "The Heiress," and after some recommendation from my father as to read Washington Square, I was not only interested in reading it because I enjoy reading classics, but I also love to form a mental comparison and contrast between movies and books; one can usually find that the books are better than the adaptations in the sense that there is such detail that goes into them that movies, leave out.

I must confess, that I was astonished that although "The Heire
...more
Jessica
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
...more
Carmen Micsa
I promised my friend Julie a few reviews, so I'll crank them out to start the New year on the right literary foot-Ha!Ha!, and, of course to keep my promise, as she's always sending me the best audio books, for which I'm very grateful.

I enjoyed the plot and the characters of this book, but most of all I've enjoyed the subplots and the subtexts. I also like the suspense created by the omniscient narrator who gives out scrapes of information for us to assemble the larger puzzle of love, as well as
...more
Elena
Oct 11, 2007 Elena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have sat through the 6-hour BBC version of Pride and Predudice more than once
Engrossed in this book after the first few chapters, I read further with slight irritation because I couldn't pin down why I was so into it. Even the Austinian precision with which James paints his characters should have been overshadowed by a heroine who was "plain, dull" and lacking in intelligence. But it wasn't. I read the introduction after fininshing the book, and I think this is why:

"James commends Balzac for the way he so obviously loves his characters, not for any virues they may posses
...more
James
Washington Square was my true introduction to the art of Henry James. I say this because I first encountered James in dramatic form by attending a production of "The Heiress" by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. They had adapted James's short novel in 1947. By the late 1960s the play had become a popular vehicle for High School students and that is where I encountered it, and indirectly Henry James. James originally published his novel in 1880 as a serial in Cornhill Magazine and Harper's New Monthly Mag ...more
Tracy Rhodes
I enjoy the writing style of Henry James, but the story itself... Ugh.

I kept thinking surely there are going to be some major plot twists, some sort of revelations or scandal to spice things up, or even some drastic unexpected course of action taken by someone or another... Instead the story mostly consists of a pack of unlikable people sitting around either scorning or deluding each other, and one spineless, milquetoast "heroine" stuck in the middle of it all, whom I spent most of the book des
...more
Lavinia
So, it was OK. With a touch of boredom. If only the reader was rewarded with a happy ending - no kids, happy ending doesn't mean he marries her and live happily ever after! - happy ending as in Catherine gets brainier, independent and starts living a bit. But James chooses to let her grow into a quiet spinster and bore us to death. Or maybe I'm just not fair and James loves her, despite the fact that he doesn't endow her with too many qualities (her father being the first to admit and emphasize ...more
Daniel
What a fantastic novel--and what a cruel premise! I have tried repeatedly to describe the basic idea of this book, and I have struck out line after line because each felt too mean to commit to print. Suffice to say that James gives his own take on the "ugly duckling" scenario that features in romantic dramas, adopting an approach that is far more realistic--and, again, cruel--than most stories allow.

I have read James before, and once again I loved his prose and witty narration. Here is an examp
...more
Darcy
Reading the early works of great authors is always intriguing. It’s like examining the acorn of a mighty oak tree; it’s something far different from the final product and much less grand, but in looking at it you can grasp the germ of greatness that is to come.

I admire Henry James’ writing, and Washington Square (1880) was as clear and compact as a novel can be, but it did cause me a bit of frustration.

The action in this novel takes place in 1840s New York. The story revolves around four main ch
...more
Jürgen Zeller
Ich mag diese Neuübersetzungen von Klassikern in wertiger Hardcover-Ausgabe. Von diversen Verlagen stehen schon ein paar dieser Trouvaillen in meinem Bücherregal. Dank den aufgefrischten Werken und der Verlagswerbung werde ich erst auf Klassiker aufmerksam und denke über einen Kauf nach. So hatte ich das Glück, den Schriftsteller Henry James für mich zu entdecken. Er hat seine zahlreichen Werke gegen Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts verfasst und aus seinem immensen Schaffen wurde diese Geschichte von B ...more
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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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The Portrait of a Lady The Turn of the Screw Daisy Miller The Wings of the Dove The Ambassadors

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“Don’t underestimate the value of irony—it is extremely valuable.” 76 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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