To read a story by Henry James is to enter a world--a rich, perfectly crafted domain of vivid language and splendid, complex characters. Devious children, sparring lovers, capricious American girls, obtuse bachelors, sibylline spinsters and charming Europeans populate these five fascinating nouvelles--works which represent the author in both his early and late phases. From the apparitions of evil that haunt the governess in The Turn of the Screw to the startling self-scrutiny of an egotistical man in The Beast in the Jungle, the mysterious turning of human behavior are skillfully and coolly observed--proving Henry James to be a master of psychological insight as well as one of the finest stylists of modern English literature. The five titles are: The Turn of the Screw; Daisy Miller; Washington Square; The Beast in the Jungle; and The Jolly Corner.
To read a story by Henry James is to enter a fully realized world unlike any other—a rich, perfectly crafted domain of vivid language and splendid, complex characters. Devious children, sparring lovers, capricious American girls, obtuse bachelors, sibylline spinsters, and charming Europeans populate these five fascinating nouvelles, which represent the author in both his early and late phases. From the apparitions of evil that haunt the governess in “The Turn of the Screw” to the startling self-scrutiny of an egotistical man in “The Beast in the Jungle,” the mysterious turnings of human behavior are coolly and masterfully observed—proving Henry James to be a master of psychological insight as well as one of the finest prose stylists of modern English literature.
Henry James was born on April 15, 1843, on Washington Place in New York to the most intellectually remarkable of American families. His father, Henry Jane Sr., was a brilliant and eccentric religious philosopher; his brother was the first great American psychologists and the author of the influential Pragmatism; his sister, Alice, though an invalid for most of her life, was a talented conversationalist, a lively letter writer, and a witty observer of the art and politics of her time.
In search of the proper education for his children, Henry senior sent them to schools in America, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Returning to America, Henry junior lived in Newport, briefly attended Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began contributing stories and book reviews to magazines. Two more trips to Europe led to his final decision to settle there, first in Paris in 1875, then in London next year.
James's first major novel, Roderick Hudson, appeared in 1875, but it was "Daisy Miller" (1878) that brought him international fame as the chronicler of American expatriates and their European adventures. His novels include The American (1877), Washington Square (1880), Princess Casamassima (1886), and the three late masterpieces, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). He also wrote plays, criticism, autobiography, travel books (including The American Scene, 1907) and some of the finest shot stories in the English language.
His later works were little read during his lifetime but have since come to be recognized as forerunners of literary modernism. Upon the outbreak of World War I, James threw his energies into war relief work and decided to adopt British citizenship. One month before his death, in 1916, he received the Order of Merit from King George V.