James Wood: ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, 11 October 2012
Show More 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 4Show More
“... 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 ...”