Henry James discussion

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Reading Henry James from start to finish

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message 1: by Anna (new)

Anna The beautiful Library of America editions of Henry James have inspired me to try and read all of his novels over the next few years - in chronological order. One of my father's friends used to do this when I was a girl - pick one author to read from start to finish - and I always loved the idea.

So far I've read Watch and Ward and Roderick Hudson, and am working on The American. I've already read most of his middle novels, so I may skip those for now and make it a chronological reading of the James novels I haven't read.

Anyone care to join me in my endeavor? Or in a portion of it?


message 2: by Laura (last edited Aug 29, 2008 10:35AM) (new)

Laura Slapikoff (lslapiko) I have the American Library set of the short stories. You can get them for cheaper if you go to Amazon Marketplace. Also, they tend to have ones that Amazon proper may not have.

That's a great idea to read them chronologically, like I did with the stories. I haven't done that yet, but I think it would be very interesting to watch his style develop that way. I've read all the novels at least twice but there's so much to them that I always appreciate them differently each time.

The American is a favorite of mine. You might like the novella Madame de Treymes by Edith Wharton, which is similarly themed.

Keep us posted on your progress and thoughts! I may jump in and join you at some point (maybe for What Maisie Knew), but right now I'm taking a few months off to read mystery novels (Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, P.D. James) so I can come back to the 19th century with a fresh perspective and clean palate.


message 3: by Jayme (new)

Jayme | 2 comments I really wish I had time to read his novels in chronological order (and I still find it ironic that as a librarian I don't have time to read the books I want to read). Roderick Hudson was my first Henry James novel that I had to read for my English class. Hated the professor but I'm still grateful that he introduced me to Henry James.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.


message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna Just a note on my progress - which is slow, as I'm reading other books in between. I've finished The American now, and also read The Europeans, Confidence, and Washington Square. I was going to skip Washington Square, as I read it about 5 years ago, but couldn't resist a reread.

On to Portrait of a Lady - I can't wait. I last read it when I was in high school, and hardly remember it at all, though the name Isabel Archer and her entrapment in a bad marriage has stuck with me.


message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Slapikoff (lslapiko) I love Washington Square. Did you read Roderick Hudson or Watch and Ward? I'm reading Roderick Hudson right now, back to Henry James after a break.

Vis a vis Roderick Hudson, the introduction mentioned something about the book having a certain intensity and rawness that isn't found in his later work. My first thought was "bullshit," but as I read, I notice turns of phrase that really are comparatively unrestrained.

I read Confidence for the first time about 6 months ago. The ending was so un-James (though Felix and Gertrude get a happy ending in The Europeans, it's tempered by Eugenia's failure to escape her inner corruption and the external trap of her illegitimate marrige). I thought Confidence was a fun little book with a sort of foreshadowing of Daisy Miller. Roderick Hudson has hints of Daisy Miller as well.

Glad you're having fun!


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