Roderick Hudson, egotistical, beautiful and an exceptionally gifted sculptor, but poor, is taken from New England to Rome by Rowland Mallet, a rich man of fine appreciative sensibilities, who intends to give Roderick the scope to develop his genius. Together they seem like twins or lovers, opposing halves of what should have been an ideal whole. Roderick Hudson contains the obsessions that inspired all James's fiction but put across with a simple force and fire that he never quite caught again.
When wealthy Rowland Mallet first sees a sculpture by Roderick Hudson, he is astounded and pronounces it to be a work of genius, and is equally entranced by the sculptor's beauty, spirit and charisma. Wishing to give the impoverished artist the opportunity to develop his talent, he takes Roderick from America to Rome, where he becomes the talk of the city. But Roderick soon loses his inspiration and Rowland loses control of his protégé, while both fall in love with women they cannot ever have. Can Roderick be saved from the path to self-destruction he seems set on? One of Henry James's first novels, Roderick Hudson (1875) is a compelling depiction of the artistic temperament and of a young man who, like Icarus, flies too close to the sun.
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Henry James (1843-1916), born in New York City, was the son of noted religious philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of eminent psychologist and philosopher William James. He spent his early life in America and studied in Geneva, London and Paris during his adolescence to gain the worldly experience so prized by his father. He lived in Newport, went briefly to Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began to contribute both criticism and tales to magazines.
In 1869, and then in 1872-74, he paid visits to Europe and began his first novel, Roderick Hudson. Late in 1875 he settled in Paris, where he met Turgenev, Flaubert, and Zola, and wrote The American (1877). In December 1876 he moved to London, where two years later he achieved international fame with Daisy Miller. Other famous works include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Princess Casamassima(1886), The Aspern Papers (1888), The Turn of the Screw (1898), and three large novels of the new century,The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). In 1905 he revisited the United States and wrote The American Scene (1907).
During his career he also wrote many works of criticism and travel. Although old and ailing, he threw himself into war work in 1914, and in 1915, a few months before his death, he became a British subject. In 1916 King George V conferred the Order of Merit on him. He died in London in February 1916.
Geoffrey Moore was general editor for the works of Henry James in Penguin Classics. He died in 1999.