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Perfuming the Money Issue

James Wood: ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, 11 October 2012

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece 
by Michael Gorra.
Norton, 385 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 87140 408 4
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... Henry James was foul about Far from the Madding Crowd when it appeared in 1874. He was a young writer, ambitious, seething, silkily aggressive. There was ground to be cleared, and residents had to be deported. Thomas Hardy, with his knobbly rusticities and merry peasants, would not do. In the Nation, James complained that the novel had a ‘fatal lack of magic’, and was written in a ‘verbose and redundant style … Everything human in the book strikes us as factious and insubstantial; the only things we believe in are the sheep and the dogs ...

Besieged by Female Writers

John Pemble: Trollope’s Late Style, 3 November 2016

Anthony Trollope’s Late Style: Victorian Liberalism and Literary Form 
by Frederik Van Dam.
Edinburgh, 180 pp., £70, January 2016, 978 0 7486 9955 1
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... and there was no doubt that more women than men were reading them. For most of the 1860s, Mrs Henry Wood and Margaret Oliphant outsold not only Trollope, but Dickens and Thackeray too. In the 1870s, it was George Eliot who reigned, and when Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd appeared in 1874 the Spectator declared that she must be its real author, and ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... I think’. Eight years later, by which time her passionate affair with Fullerton was long over, Henry James, in one of his last letters to her, confirmed her first thoughts about the man who had fascinated them both. ‘WMF … is the most inscrutable of men – he will never pose long enough for the Camera of Identification.’ Marion Mainwaring, in ...

Maughamisms

Elizabeth Mavor, 18 July 1985

A Traveller in Romance 
by W. Somerset Maugham, edited by John Whitehead.
Muller, Blond and White, 275 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 85634 184 3
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... to be too afraid of pleasure. There are other hobby-horses, such as the pernicious influence of Henry James upon English fiction. James sinned by turning the eyes of the best authors ‘away from the needs, passions and immortal longings of humanity to dwell on the trivial curiosities of sheltered gentlefolk’, on ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... dinners’ were being held, at first under the auspices of Butler’s great friend Henry Festing Jones (the last dinner was in July 1914), and Forster was offered £25 by his publisher as an advance for a book about Butler. Lytton Strachey, who also found Butler immensely ‘cheering’, wanted to write on him in the Edinburgh Review; and ...

At Free Love Corner

Jenny Diski, 30 March 2000

Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers 
by Frances Wilson.
Faber, 258 pp., £12.99, October 1999, 0 571 19288 2
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... and Shelley shadow the literary love of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, Robert Graves and Laura Riding, Nadezhda and Osip Mandelstam, W.B. and Georgie Yeats all get chapters to themselves. Since some of her cases come close to the pathological, and most are ineffably silly, there is nothing instructive about reading or ...

Grandfather Emerson

Harold Bloom, 7 April 1994

Poetry and Pragmatism 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 228 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 571 16617 2
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... of the development in American criticism during the last three decades, from The Comic Sense of Henry James (1960) and A World Elsewhere (1966), through a middle phase in The Performing Self (1971) and Norman Mailer (1972), on to the major study of Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (1977), and culminating in The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian ...

Philip Roth’s House of Fiction

Michael Mason, 6 December 1979

The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... novel yet’ implies a future of prosperous activity which may be barmecidal. The novelist-hero of Henry James’s story ‘The Middle Years’ is amused by the view that his latest novel is ‘the best thing he has done yet’: it ‘made such a grand avenue of the future’. This story is alluded to in detail in The Ghost Writer and is structurally as ...

They were all drunk

Michael Brock, 21 March 1991

The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol I: 1872-1889 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 386 pp., £45, November 1990, 0 333 36086 9
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The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol II: 1890-1899 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 386 pp., £45, November 1990, 0 333 36087 7
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... been six months in London before the Times had devoted a leader to his work. In that year, 1890, Henry James had termed him ‘the star of the hour’; R.L. Stevenson had pronounced him ‘too clever to live’; and Tennyson had judged him ‘the only one ... with the divine fire’. Nine years later, news of his illness had taken precedence in London ...

At Manchester Art Gallery

Inigo Thomas: Annie Swynnerton, 27 September 2018

... A portrait​ of Henry James hangs in the Strangers’ Dining Room at the Reform Club. The picture was acquired in 2008, and is on the same red wall as portraits of Dickens and Thackeray. James is seated and sunlight falls on the left temple of his semi-bald head – he’s in his late sixties – and he looks up, distracted, as if someone had just entered the room ...

Understanding Forwards

Michael Wood: William James, 20 September 2007

William JamesIn the Maelstrom of American Modernism 
by Robert Richardson.
Mariner, 622 pp., £15, September 2007, 978 0 618 43325 4
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... He was always around the corner and out of sight,’ Henry James wrote of his older brother William as a child. ‘He was clear out before I got well in.’ The philosopher C.S. Peirce said something similar about the grown man. ‘He so concrete, so living, I a mere table of contents.’ Josiah Royce, a life-long friend and Harvard colleague of William James, with whom he agreed philosophically scarcely ever, offered a fine parody of the pragmatism so closely associated with his companion’s name ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 19 January 1989

The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... immediately preceding the divorce (Teddy had embezzled and spent some $50,000 from her trust), Henry James couldn’t help regretting ‘that an intellectuelle – and an Angel – should require such a big pecuniary base.’ But require it she apparently did; and in the later decades of her career especially, she appears to have been capable of ...

Bournemouth

Andrew O’Hagan: The Bournemouth Set, 21 May 2020

... Stevenson found the core of his talent. It all started with a spirited exchange in print with Henry James. In September 1884, when Stevenson was new to that oasis of convalescents, he picked up a copy of Longman’s Magazine, which carried James’s essay ‘The Art of Fiction’. He knew ...

Shatost

John Bayley, 16 June 1983

Dostoevsky and ‘The Idiot’: Author, Narrator and Reader 
by Robin Feuer Miller.
Harvard, 296 pp., £16, October 1981, 0 674 21490 0
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Dostoevsky 
by John Jones.
Oxford, 365 pp., £15, May 1983, 9780198126454
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New Essays on Dostoyevsky 
edited by Malcolm Jones and Garth Terry.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24890 6
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The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes 
by Robert Louis Jackson.
Princeton, 380 pp., £17.60, January 1982, 0 691 06484 9
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... changing, both sides know the game. And as the form becomes more self-conscious, the writer – Henry James is the obvious example – indicates both inside and outside his novel how the reader will divide the work with him and share the spoils. In this partnership we become lucid and wise. Even the most unlikely circumstances are arranged for our ...

Beastliness

Harry Ricketts, 16 March 1989

Rudyard Kipling 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Macdonald, 373 pp., £16.95, February 1989, 0 356 15852 7
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... Speculation, Leon Edel remarks in his one-volume life of Henry James, is ‘the stock-in-trade of all biographers’. But if all biographers speculate, some do so more scrupulously and convincingly than others. Edel, for instance, is both meticulous and plausible. The same can hardly be said of Martin Seymour-Smith in his new critical biography of Kipling ...

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