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In the Cage

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  784 ratings  ·  61 reviews
It had occurred to her early that in her position - that of a young person spending, in framed and wired confinement, the life of a guinea-pig or a magpie - she should know a great many persons without their recognising the acquaintance. That made it an emotion the more lively - though singularly rare and always, even then, with opportunity still very much smothered - to s ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published February 20th 2006 by 1st World Library (first published 1898)
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Average rating 3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  784 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
A rueful, gently comic novella -- neglected because scholars couldn't explain its 'misfit' in the James canon. Its focus is the working-class whose lives are a grind for God & Country. In pre-telephone days, c. 1900, a likeable telegraphist, engaged to a grocer, becomes involved in the coded "messages" between a married Lady and her lover.

Crisis: a message is lost. The aristo couple need her help. Beware of changing technology, cautions James who sent 100s of telegrams himself. If not careful, t
Gerasimos Reads
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, university
I've read Henry James before a few years ago (The Beast in the Jungle) and I really enjoyed his ideas, characters and intelligent storytelling but I found the writing extremely heavy and flowery to enjoy and after a while I found it difficult to follow the story. This time around though (and perhaps it has to do with me maturing as a reader) I really enjoyed his work. As expected, it was very difficult to read and it requires a lot of attention. It's not the kind of book that you can read lying ...more
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Only James could take an unnamed girl working in a telegraph office and turn her in to one of the most complex characters I've even studied. ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I get the sense that Henry James hates women and woefully misreads them. Other times I get the sense that Henry James understood women on a more desperate level, at least for the times. This little novella straddles the two.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
how does he know so well what it's like to have a shitty job? ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
This novella is available for free download to Kindle format from Amazon, plus you can download it free of charge from The Gutenberg Project (GP). However, the “Push to Kindle” extension on my Firefox browser is not, as of this writing, playing nice with the GP site. It unfairly and inaccurately accused me of being in Germany, where squabbling over copyright has lead the GP to block download attempts. Access denied. In any event, I pushed it to Kindle in two parts from Full Text Archive. The rig ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
I could not get into this book. It was so boring and the content was so dull to me. I feel so bad for not liking it but it was just not worth the read for me. I had to read it for class and it was a painful experience to get through. The writing style was difficult for me to understand and I found myself drifting off and having to reread so many passages. The overall theme and summary was decent but I don't think it was worth the amount of pages. ...more
Ville-markus Nevalainen
Read for university.

I simply despised it. I'm sorry, but James's writing is just awful. The use of commas makes the reading experience slow, tedious and confusing. The dialogue is one of the worse I've ever read.

Not a fan.
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I liked our unnamed clerk protagonist which is not the norm with Henry James' women. Also a surprising amount of chemistry in this novella? His writing is way too flowery for my tastes (I wouldn't even say it's pretty to read, it just seems like fluff), but this makes me want to give him another shot. ...more
Eddie Clarke
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a conjuring trick! Henry James, the third-generation scion of American plutocracy, cushioned comfortably all his life by a family trust-fund, socialising with the aristocratic elite of two continents, has a look at the life of a working-class telegraphist. The surprise is he shows exactly what such mechanically repetitive and financially marginal jobs are like.

Putting my Marxian hat on, the story dramatises the glamour of hegemonic ideology. Our heroine is ‘in the cage’ indeed. In supremely
Marts  (Thinker)
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fiction
A tale of an unnamed protagonist employed at a London telegrah office...

Summary from Wikipedia, "An unnamed telegraphist works in the branch post office at Cocker's, a grocer in a fashionable London neighborhood. Her fiancée, a decent if unpolished man named Mudge, wants her to move to a less expensive neighborhood to save money. She refuses because she likes the glimpses of society life she gets from the telegrams at her current location.

Through those te
Apr 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Maybe it was me but I just couldn't follow Henry James' blather. I have read some of his works when I was in high school, mostly because they were assigned, and didn't enjoy his style. My attempt to read his work again as a more mature reader still leaves me disatisfied.

The description of In the Cage was intersting enough so I thought I would give this one a try. I read 48% of it and kept wondering when we were going to get to what was described. This one goes on my "Did Not Finish List".
John Yelverton
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
It is a well written story, but the subject matter I felt was quite wanting of a girl working in a telegraph office who lives vicariously through the telegrams she sends. The ending is nothing to be impressed by either.
Massimo  Gioffre
I’m a bit disappointed. The plot is easy but in spite of this the book results rather dull. It was neither engaging nor profound.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Dear God this was bad. I had to finish it for class.
Oct 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This novella follows the life of a nameless telegraphist at Cocker's and her relation to the people who play an important role in her life. As the title indicates, she works inside a cage, trapped behind the bars because of her involvement with the customers that visit the shop. The protagonist's decisions are shaped by the sense of power her position provides and what we could define as an overdeveloped imagination, influenced by the 'ha'penny' novels she is constantly reading. Despite being aw ...more
Sam O’Brien
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting plot and characters but DAMN are some of these sentences long. I think that often it does give the whole story an interesting air, and for the most part is beautiful. BUT the whole thing being in this style of “through the womans eyes but James is spouting every single word he can about her experience.” Regardless, a very engaging meditation on class and what each wants (or feels is a given for) the other to do. The ending is a very nice lil twist too.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
Henry James' prose is so hard to get to grips with. I think this could have worked better as a short story rather than a novella. This being said, his complex portrayal of the main character is wonderfully multilayered and evokes many different emotional responses. The idealisation of others is once again shattered by reality. I would like to give it two and a half stars really, but the prose was just too dense and relentless to warrant three stars. ...more
Nicole Murdoch
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Where do I start with this.... What a lovely surprise this novella was! To know so much about a character in so few words and with no name. I can’t wait to study this and read it again. There is so much to uncover, it may take me a couple more reads until I’ve fully wrapped myself around the story. I’ll follow up with a proper review in the next read.
Ashley Adams
A commentary on stalking one's "crushtomers," and building relationships with people based solely on things one can assume from outside behavior. It's... endearingly... creepy (?) but also all too familiar. ...more
Daniel Rainer
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it
"The old cliche that Henry James wrote novels as though they were philosophical treatises whereas William James wrote philosophic treatises as though they were novels..." (Jaroslav Pelikan)

Having read both Jameses this year, I can attest to the truth and wit of that particular old cliche.

Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
On this re-reading, I find it weirder and less intriguing.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wrote a paper on this regarding communication, technology and gender. Quite an interesting book but not something I would choose to read by myself. It was an assignment
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
A lot better the third time around (I had to read it for a paper) but still, I didn't... see the point? ...more
Jordan Beamer
Excited to dig into this novel through my research, but as a whole, I did not enjoy it too much.
Shona H
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The lack of a protagonist's name, the rambling prose, and the vagueness of truth and thought in this novella left me mostly just confused by the time I reached the end. ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
How on earth Henry James managed to get inside this woman's mind so unsettlingly, I do not know. The framework is pretty boring but the pinpoint accuracy of the inner monologue is startling. ...more
Grace Gardner
Mar 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Interesting ideas but far too dense. I like that with every James every word choice is deliberate. Stylistic.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This was fine. What was in the telegram!!!
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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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