Henry James, Refined Realist


ENG 343: The American Novel

Lesson 5: Henry James, Refined Realist
Sept. 3-Oct. 7, 2002


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to do each of the following without consulting notes or other resources:

  • Summarize the life and literary contributions of Henry James.
  • Insightfully discuss characters, themes, and other features of The Wings of the Dove.
  • Define or identify relevant terms, names, and dates.


Our class activities this week include the following:


Think Fast: Choose an incident you observed this morning and describe it as if you were Henry James.

Presentation: “Henry James’s Refined Realism” (Professor Canada)

Cooperative Learning:

Realism: Although they were both realists, Mark Twain and Henry James produced very different brands of fiction.  Discuss the ways in which Henry James achieves a picture of reality through his fiction.  If you are familiar with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or any other realistic fiction from the postbellum era, contrast The Wings of the Dove with this fiction.

America and Europe: James, an expatriate himself, is known for his extensive treatment of Americans in Europe, as well as his general interest in the viewpoints that come with a person’s national background.  Discuss how Kate Croy and other characters in The Wings of the Dove reflect the belief systems or behaviors of the nations from which they come.

Discussion: During this time, we will discuss the insights and questions that have emerged during our reading, “Think Fast” exercise, presentations, and cooperative learning.

Think Again: We saw in our study of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that the literary scholar Jane Tompkins valued the “cultural work” that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel performed.  What “work” does The Wings of the Dove perform?  Is this work worthwhile?  Does James succeed in his purpose?  As always, support your claim with evidence from the novel.

Conferences: While the rest of you are working on the “Think Again” exercise, I will meet with two of you in one-on-one conferences.  During this time, I will review some of your writing, orally quiz you on lesson objectives, and field your questions.

Announcements: We will wrap up this lesson with announcements regarding upcoming lessons, as well as other relevant subjects.

Names and Terms

Make sure you know the meaning and significance of each of the following names and terms:

  • realism
  • local color
  • Mark Twain
  • William Dean Howells


Make sure you are familiar with the following key date:


1902: James publishes The Wings of the Dove


You can find more information about the subject covered in this lesson by consulting the print or electronic resources listed below:



The Henry James Scholar’s Guide to Web Sites features numerous links to e-texts and other online materials.


Online Literary Criticism Collection: Henry James, Jr. (1843-1916) features links to articles about the author.

Updated September 26, 2002
Mark Canada, 2002


We turn from our study of a overt, emotional novel in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to a much subtler, more intellectual novel, Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove.  By the way, we will have some special guests on Monday: a film crew from Premier TV.  I understand that some footage of our class may appear on E-Entertainment.  Let’s dazzle the world with our lively discussion of Henry James!


Henry James, 1843-1916


Far less known than Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Stephen Crane, and other writers of the nineteenth century, Henry James nevertheless may be the greatest American novelist.  Over a career that spanned more than four decades, James published more novels than any of these writers.  Many of these works—including The American (1877), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), and The Ambassadors (1903)—are considered masterpieces of the genre.  He also wrote two of the greatest American novelettes—Daisy Miller (1879) and The Turn of the Screw (1898)—as well as numerous important short stories, including “The Real Thing” and “The Beast in the Jungle.”  Finally, James was one of the foremost authorities on the novel and wrote considerable literary criticism, including an essay called “The Art of Fiction,” a critical study of Hawthorne, and numerous reviews.  Dubbed “the Master,” James is known for a highly refined prose style, which he used to capture the complex psychologies of his characters.  Exploring the workings of these characters’ minds was the major focus of James’s fiction, which might be characterized as “psychological realism.”  An American who moved to England in the middle of his career, James is also known for exploring the ways in which individuals’ outlooks and behaviors are shaped by their national cultures.


Like Harriet Beecher Stowe, James belonged to a prominent New England family.  His father, Henry James, Sr., was a wealthy man who counted Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Carlyle among his acquaintances.  His elder brother, William James, would become the leading American philosopher of the nineteenth century, as well as one of the first modern psychologists.  Born in New York City in 1843, Henry James, Jr., had the opportunity to travel extensively as a child.  Indeed, between 1855 and 1858, he lived in Europe with his family.  He returned to America in 1858 and lived in Newport, Connecticut for the next four years, exempted from service in the Civil War because of a back injury.  After a brief stint at Harvard Law School, he published the first work under his own name in The Atlantic Monthly in 1865.  In 1870 he was traveling again—this time meeting, among others, Charles Dickens and Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the pen name George Eliot.  In 1871, he published his first novel, Watch and Ward.  In 1875, still in his early thirties, he moved to Europe, first settling in France, where he met Gustav Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, and other important French writers.  Over this early part of his life, James had become one of the most cosmopolitan American writers of his time or any other time, having spent time in England, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, often interacting with leading writers, taking in art at the Louvre, and continually observing life around him.


Although he studied art in Europe, his calling was in the field of literature.  Over the next six years, he published more than a dozen books, including the novels The American and The Portrait of a Lady, the novelette Daisy Miller, a critical volume on Nathaniel Hawthorne, and collections of short stories.  In 1881, he returned briefly to America and then, in 1882, moved permanently to Europe.  Over the next 15 years, he published additional novels—notably The Bostonians (1886) and The Princess Casamassima (1886)—the novelette The Turn of the Screw, and more short stories, some of them collected in The Real Thing and Other Tales (1893).  He also tried his hand at drama, although he enjoyed far less success in this area.  In the early years of the twentieth century, he published a number of notoriously difficult novels: The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904).  Between 1907 and 1909, James edited The New York Edition of his works and made major changes in many of his stories.  After the death of his brother in 1910, he published two autobiographical books, A Small Boy and Others (1913) and Notes of a Son and Brother (1914).  Because of his problems with World War I, he became a British subject in 1915.  During the same year, he suffered from two strokes.  He died of edema the following year.


The Wings of the Dove


Just as it marked a turning point in American history, the Civil War (1861-1865) separated two literary periods.  Although a number of writers, notably Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, lived through the war and published important works long after its end, American literature underwent a significant change during this time.  By 1870, major figures such as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau had died, and romanticism and Transcendentalism had largely given way to a different literary movement, which came to be known as realism.  Rebelling against what they perceived as the excesses of earlier writers, the realists sought to write believable stories about everyday people.  Not coincidentally, many of these realists were journalists who observed life firsthand and knew how different it could be—especially among the middle and lower classes—from the illusions somewhat common in literature.  William Dean Howells, one of the leaders of the movement in the United States, captured the essence of the realistic movement in his novel The Rise of Silas Lapham, in which a character comments that “the novelists would be best to us if they painted life as it is.”  Howells, like fellow realists Mark Twain and Stephen Crane, particularly railed against fantastic romances that glorified war.  The realists were also more deliberate than many of their predecessors in creating a sense of verisimilitude, often using detailed descriptions and dialect to bring their scenes and characters to life.  In one particular brand of realism, known as regionalism or local color, writers focused on some exotic region of the United States—New Orleans and other Southern locales were particularly popular, as was the West—and recreated this region for magazine readers in the Northeast.  The novel, already strongly associated with realistic depictions of everyday life, was a popular genre during the postbellum era.  Some of the most noteworthy realistic novels of the period include Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1883), Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899).


Like Howells, James wrote important criticism regarding the realistic movement.  Along with his classic essay “The Art of Fiction,” he wrote numerous reviews and other essays in which he commented on realism and the novel.  He was also one of the leading writers of realism, although on the surface his work looks very different from novels by Twain and even Howells, with whom he was closely allied.  Novels such as The Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors show little or no dialect and generally ignore the lower classes.  In one crucial respect, however, James was a master realist.  Rather than focus on the externals of reality, James explored the internals.  Specifically, he returned again and again to the complexities of human psychology.  In his biography of the author, Leon Edel wrote that James “believed that each human consciousness carries its own ‘reality’ and that this is what art captures and preserves” (166).  If Twain’s chief enemy was romance, James’s was the “type”—a simplistic version of a human personality common in literature and journalism, both then and now.  Like James himself, the characters he explored were often Americans who had come to Europe.  The “international theme,” as James phrased it, can be found in Daisy Miller, Roderick Hudson, The American, and other works.  One of the most interesting features of many of James’s characters is their tendency to live vicariously through—or even prey on—other, usually young and beautiful characters.  The author would not have had to look far for a model for these characters.  Of his time in Europe as a young man, Henry Seidel Canby wrote that James “gave his time utterly to observing, almost forgetting, it would seem his own personality, his own personal life, though intensely aware of his critical opinions” (104).


In his attempt to capture the complexities of his characters, James often employed an elaborate and highly refined style, especially in his later fiction.  It is this style that has drawn the strongest reaction from readers—or non-readers.  Indeed, it has been the butt of jokes, such as those describing a woman who can read Henry James “in the original” and a woman who knows “several languages—French, New Thought, and Henry James.”  H.G. Wells quipped that James’s fiction reminded him of a hippopotamus trying to pick up a pea.  After reading The Golden Bowl, even James’s own brother, a leading American intellectual in his own right, wrote in a letter: “Why won’t you, just to please Brother, sit down and write a new book, with no twilight or mustiness in the plot, with great vigor and decisiveness in the action, no fencing the dialogue, psychological commentaries, and absolute straightness in style.”  Later, after reading The American Scene, William wrote to his brother: “Say it out, for God’s sake and have done with it.”  Given the opportunity, many later readers might issue the same plea.


Coming near the end of his career, The Wings of the Dove shows this refined, perplexing style, as well as some of the other common features of James’s work.  Here, for example, are psychological studies, the Americans in Europe, and the detached observer in pursuit of vicarious life.  One of the author’s most complex novels, it demands the kind of careful study that many readers may not be willing to perform.  In his preface to his next novel, The Ambassadors, James wrote that readers should take it five pages at a time.  The Wings of the Dove calls for a similar approach.

Works Cited

Canby, Henry Seidel.  Turn West, Turn East.  Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1951.

Edel, Leon.  Henry James: A Life.  New York: Harper and Row, 1985.


In this lesson, we saw one of the last great novelists of the nineteenth century.  In our next lesson, we turn to a twentieth-century novelist, the North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe.



father: Henry James, Sr.


rejected Calvinism and orthodox theology

studied Swedenborg and embraced mysticism

wrote several books on religion, including Substance and Shadow and Society the Redeemed Form of Man

friend of Emerson, Carlyle

embraced Fourierism

educated in England



1843: born in New York City

1855-1858: lives in Europe with family

1858: lives in Newport, Connecticut

1860-1862: lives in Newport, Connecticut; back injury exempts him from Civil War

1862: enters Harvard Law School; will leave after a term

1865: published under his name for the first time in Atlantic Monthly

1869: “Pyramus and Thisbe”

1870: travels alone in Europe; meets Dickens, George Eliot, others

1871: Watch and Ward

1871: “A Passionate Pilgrim”

1875: moves permanently to Europe, starting in France, where he meets Turgenev, Flaubert, Maupassant, and the Goncourts

studies art in Europe

1875: A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales

1875: Transatlantic Sketches

1876: Roderick Hudson

1877: The American

1878: The Europeans

1878: French Poets and Novelists

1878: Daisy Miller

1879: Hawthorne

1879: An International Episode

1879: The Madonna of the Future and Other Tales

1880: Confidence

1881: Washington Square

1881: The Portrait of a Lady

1881: returns briefly to America

1882: moves back to Europe for good

1883: dramatization of Daisy Miller

1883: The Siege of London

1883: Portraits of Places

1884: Tales of Three Cities

1885: A Little Tour in France

1885: Stories Revived

1886: The Bostonians

1886: The Princess Casamassima

1888: The Reverberator

1888: The Aspern Papers

1888: Partial Portraits, including “The Art of Fiction”

1889: A London Life

1890-1895: Dramatic Years

attempts to write for the stage are not successful

his notebooks show great attention to creativity

1890: The Tragic Muse

1892: The Lesson of the Master

1893: The Real Thing and Other Tales

1893: The Private Life

1893: The Wheel of Time

1893: Picture and Text

1893: Essays in London and Elsewhere

1895: Terminations

1896: Embarassments

1896: The Other House

1897: The Spoils of Poynton

1897: What Maisie Knew

1898: In the Cage

1898: The Two Magics, including “The Turn of the Screw”

1899: The Awkward Age

1900: The Soft Side

1901: The Sacred Fount

1902: The Wings of the Dove

1903: The Better Sort

1903: The Ambassadors

1903: William Wetmore and His Friends

1904: spends time with William at Chocorua

1904: The Golden Bowl

1905: English Hours

1905: The Question of Our Speech, and the Lesson of Balzac

1907: The American Scene

1907-1909: edits New York Edition of his novels and makes major changes

1908: The High Bid

1908: Views and Reviews

1909: The Altar of the Dead

1910: The Finer Grain

1910: brother William dies

1913: A Small Boy and Others

1914: Notes of a Son and Brother

1914: Notes on Novelists

1915: becomes a British subject because of his problems with World War I

1916: dies

1917: The Ivory Tower (unfinished novel)

1917: The Sense of the Past (unfinished novel)

1917: The Middle Years

1918: Within the Rim and Other Essays

1921: Notes and Reviews

Issues and themes


1895-1900: experimented heavily with ambiguity

also appears in The Ambassadors


James liked pre-Raphaelites

James initially did not care for the Impressionist painters; he said they were not sufficiently realistic and did not represent the richness of life; later, however, he developed an appreciation for the Impressionists


wrote at a time when the notion of a “best-seller” was prominent

coped with a more heterogeneous reading public from 1890-1910; could not continue writing with the models of Dickens and others in mind

lost many readers because he refused to entertain or instruct them

published in low-brow periodicals, but was ashamed of doing so

relied heavily on the serialization of his novels for financial support


James is darling of New Critics, who can appreciate his stylized fiction, and critics interested in psychology

Marxists, New Historicists, and radical critics of 1960s dismiss him as artificial and isolated from reality

Creative process

liked to start with a “germ of an idea”

hand-wrote laboriously for years

after contracting serious writer’s cramp, he hires a stenographer, but hates not being able to review what he has just written

in 1890s, he buys an elaborate typewriter and dictates to a typist


James became unhappy with his early work late in life and revised it, although he mainly tinkered with commas and the like

early work deals with cases of individuals, while later work deals with situations and experiments with multiple points of view


Pattee notes that James’s early life, when his father moved him from place to place, led him to be a detached artist: “But James had been reared deliberately for detachment; he was as free from religious bias as a scientist, and he was free from patriotic narrowness to the extent even of being for the most part of his life a man without a country.  Everything had fitted him for an impartial observer, a philosopher without preconception, a social scientist in a laboratory” (196).

Dramatic Years


well-made play popular at this time

resolution in third act

overturned by Ibsen

he wrote that he sought art, fame, and fortune

learned from drama the “divine principle of the scenario”: scenes build up to a major scene

failed artistically in writing drama, perhaps because he tried to use the formula of well-made play or melodrama

“The American”

disappointed by the failure of The Tragic Muse, James agreed to set The American to the stage around 1890


Guy Domville

critical failure: poor drama, melodramatic, unrealistic

makes more money than The American

James booed off stage at first performance by yahoos

James is scarred by the experience



central to early fiction
overly polite
sexually ambivalent
fascinated by younger, lively, naive, more sexual men or women
Ralph Touchett

James’ early letters from Europe show that he himself is a detached observer, wandering in the streets and spas: “he gave his time utterly to observing, observing, almost forgetting, it would seem, his own personality, his own personal life, though intensely aware of his critical opinions” (Canby 104)

Edel calls the period from 1870-1875 James’ “Years of Saturation,” in which he absorbed life in Europe and “learned to look steadily at—and accept—whatever life might bring into his orbit” (Edel HJL 165)

James wrote to Charles Eliot Norton: “I regard the march of history very much as a man placed astride of a locomotive, without knowledge or help, would regard the progress of that vehicle.  To stick on, somehow, and even enjoy the scenery as we pass, is the sum of my aspiration” (HJL 165)

Edel writes that James saw life as “a moral and spiritual struggle, something not to be defied, or argued with, but to be coped with and mastered” (HJL 165)


celebrated in late work

“In the James household religious and philosophical discussion belonged to his father and brother; this was perhaps reason enough for Henry to go in search of other—of aesthetic—ground.  Intellectual though he was, he gave a primary place to ‘felt life’” (Edel HJL 166)


Strether tells Little Bilham: “Live all you can.  It’s a mistake not to.”
Strether tries to indulge in experience
Isabel Archer wants to “see” Europe, but she abandons this quest for experience to settle down in marriage and focus on her own “corner”

International themes


rich in culture

some Europeans could be artificial

new world (in the Old World)




lacks culture

eager, naive Americans go to Europe

James shows an American impulse to turn east and nourish oneself in the old world, just as Twain shows the drive to turn west and make oneself in the new world (Canby xi)

James traveled “partly because he felt that his craft needed the nourishment of older civilizations” (Edel HJR xi)

but a financial motive may have been at work, as well; in America, he could earn $10-35 for a review, but he had to read several books; in Europe, he could earn the same amount from a travel sketch; “His New York stay [in 1875] proved that it was better economy for him to live in Europe” (Edel HJL 171)

Mood disorder

“Like William he suffered throughout his life from intermittent, often deep melancholy, ‘the black devils or nervousness, direst damnedest demons’” (Jamison 211)

See “Art” section of Roderick Hudson below


20 novels, 112 tales

in The Henry James Reader, Edel presents a selection of stories where a novice might want to begin: Daisy Miller, The Aspern Papers, The Turn of the Screw, The Beast in the Jungle, Pandora, “The Author of Beltraffio,” “Owen Wingrave,” “The Real Thing,” and “The Two Faces”

Phases (Edel HJR xii)


Americans abroad
national idiosyncracies


life in cities
cultured people’s quests for freedom


human perception and motivation
elaborate style


perhaps for this reason, William James called his work “bloodless”

Edel writes that James “believed that each human consciousness carries its own ‘reality’ and that this is what art captures and preserves” (HJL 166)

“The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million—a number of possible windows not be reckoned, rather; every one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable, in its vast frong, by the need of the individual vision and by the pressure of the individual will” (Preface to The Portrait of a Lady 7)


H.G. Wells : James’ fiction reminded him of a hippopotamous trying to pick up a pea.

William James

called his brother’s work “bloodless”

“He and I are so utterly different in all our observances and springs of action that we can’t rightly judge each other” (? 296)

in a letter in which he refused membership in the Academy of Arts and Letters, he referred to Henry as “my younger and shallower and vainer brother” (? 298)

after reading The Golden Bowl, he wrote to Henry: “Why won’t you, just to please Brother, sit down and write a new book, with no twilight or mustiness in the plot, with great vigor and decisiveness in the action, no fencing the dialogue, psychological commentaries, and absolute straightness in style” (? 300)

after reading The American Scene in 1907, he wrote to Henry: “Say it out, for God’s sake and have done with it” (? 301); he also suggested that Henry had become “a curiosity of literature” (? 301)

Popular responses

Joke: There is a lady who knows “several languages—French, New Thought and Henry James” (? 302)

Joke: A lady boasts that she can read Henry James “in the original” (? 302)

Correspondent: “Which Henry James ending do you like best, the one which turns to the left and says nothing—or the one that turns to the right and says ‘So there we are’” (?302)

cartoon shows Henry James tangled in one of his sentences

review of Roderick Hudson praised it, but said: “All it lacks is to have been told with more human feeling” (171)

James was received well by critics writing shortly after his death


used fantastic plots and fairy-tale maneuvers, but created a sense of realism with his expert depictions of atmosphere and his suffusion of heart and mind in characters (Edel PL ix, Edel HJR x)

Short story

Pattee writes: “Life as he saw it lived about him was not a series of complete dramas with culminating climaxes and theatrical final curtains.  It was not a thing of single color tones and rigidly unified impressions, of swift movement and constant happenings.  To Henry James art, even the art of the short story, dealt with the ordinary areas of life, areas that blended almost imperceptibly into other areas, and then still other areas. . . . To throw the spot light upon one single figure in the pattern, as did Poe, and then to hold it there for an intense moment made only for sensation and untruth” (200-201).

In a letter to [Robert Louis?] Stevenson in 1888, James wrote: “I propose, for a longish period, to do nothing but short lengths.  I want to leave a multitude of pictures of my time, projecting my small circular frame upon as many different spots as possible and going in for number as well as quality, so that the number may constitute a total having a certain value as observation and testimony” (Pattee 205).


presents instances rather than lessons

creates worlds that reflect life

uses what he learned from drama

James employed similar techniques in both early and late work, but his early work is easier to read and understand

experiments with point of view

psychology of characters

figure in the carpet: the hidden pattern to be discovered and followed


symbolic nations and places


often act as foils of male characters, who illustrate human frailties

Daisy is clever and succeeds at the artistry of creating herself while Winterbourne is foolish and fails at trying to win Daisy

May Bartram is giving and insightful while Marcher is selfish and dim

the governess of "The Turn of the Screw" is courageous, sincere, and caring while her boss is egocentric and carefree

but women are not perfect

Daisy might by considered false

governess unintentionally smothers the boy

Isabel Archer fails in her quest for experience and independence

Madame Merle deceives Isabel Archer


James loathes busyness in American culture

but he is a relentless worker


Roderick Hudson

Publication: 1876


Rowland Mallet: a young man with a lot of money on his hands and little to do with his time; having no artistic talent himself, he acts as a connoisseur, funding and guiding other artists

Roderick Hudson: a young sculptor with great talent, but little control over his muse; he is a great, glowing source of power, at one with nature, whom no one can predict or control

Mrs. Hudson: Roderick’s mother, who holds Rowland responsible for her son’s life in Europe

Mary Garland: Roderick’s cousin and fiancee, with whom Rowland falls in love

Christina Light: the apparently idealized woman, who turns out to be a complex human being

Mrs. Light: Christina’s mother, who has manipulated her daughter’s life to make her a certain kind of woman whom princes will want to marry (208); she is a kind of artist, a sculptor of Christina

Gloriani: the practical artist, who tells Roderick that his inspiration will not carry him forever

Sam Singleton: the industrial artist

Cavaliere: an assistant to Mrs. Light and the probable father of Christina


Before leaving for Europe, Rowland meets the young sculptor Roderick Hudson during a visit to his cousin Cecilia

Seeing Roderick’s talent, Rowland takes him to Europe with him; before they leave, Rowland becomes attracted to Mary Garland, but Roderick announces while they are on the ship that he has asked Mary to marry him

Once there, Roderick wins great critical reception with his brilliant Adam, which he follows up with a brilliant Eve

Roderick takes a break and slips a little in gambling and dissolution

Roderick meets Christina Light, an idealized beauty, and sculpts her; the work is another success

Roderick goes blank (223)

Rowland tells Christina Light to leave Roderick alone (231)

Mrs. Hudson and Mary Garland come to Europe

Roderick creates a bust of his mother

Roderick slips, loses his vision and interest, becomes moody, decides he doesn’t want his mother and Mary around

Roderick falls in love with Christina Light

Christina keeps him at a distance; Roderick finally tries to prove himself to her by starting to climb a dangerous wall in the Coliseum to obtain a flower for her, but Rowland steps in and stops him

To Mrs. Light’s delight, Christina becomes involved with Prince Casamassima

Christina breaks off her engagement to the prince and confides in Rowland that she doesn’t want to be pushed into that life; Rowland comes to see her as a complex human being

Christina marries the Prince anyway, leaving Rowland to speculate that Mrs. Light has threatened her with revealing that she is the illegitimate daughter of her and the Cavaliere

Roderick loses his interest in life (321)

Rowland, Roderick, Mrs. Hudson, and Mary move to Florence and then to Switzerland, but Roderick cannot regain his inspiration

On meeting Christina Light again, Roderick tells Rowland he has caught a glimpse of interest in life and asks to borrow money to follow her to Innasferne, but Rowland is reluctant

Roderick and Rowland argue after Roderick tells Rowland that he doesn’t understand love; Rowland reveals that he loves Mary Garland

Roderick walks away, and a great storm ensues

Mrs. Hudson and Mary Garland want Rowland to look for Roderick, but he does not; Rowland is disappointed to see that Mary still cares more for Roderick than for him

After the storm, Rowland and Sam Singleton find Roderick dead in a ravine, apparently dead of a fall

Mrs. Hudson and Mary return to America, and Rowland, still pining for Mary, visits her on occasion



Role of critic: Rowland is a critic who tries to guide Roderick, while feeling the frustration of very limited control over the artist or his work
Rowland at first excuses it in Roderick (113)
Roderick feels drive to turn ideas into form (115)
Roderick gives will to destiny, while Rowland gives destiny to will (138)
Life without expression is death (348)
Rowland: “Success is only passionate effort” (104)
How should an artist work?
Roderick depends on inspiration; he creates remarkable work at first, but falters when his inspiration fails him; he eventually burns up
Gloriani survives because he is practical; yet his pragmatism is so earth-bound that it is discouraging (125-128)
Singleton shows real promise although Rowland is unsure whether he has real talent, as Roderick has (239); he plods along and survives and is even happy; Rowland tells him that he is closer to the shore, but enjoys smoother waters (171); James seems to sympathize most with him (197)
The nonartist
Rowland feels need for expression (53)
but he cannot create, only commission and appreciate (71)
Possible causes of the artist’s demise
Gloriani’s admonition that his inspiration will not last forever
Christina Light, representative of life, always a competitor with art for James
inevitable loss of inspiration
Manic-Depressive illness
Lord Byron, who almost certainly was manic-depressive, described his art in a way similar to James’ description of Singleton and Roderick: “—You don’t like my ‘restless’ doctrines—I should be very sorry if you did—but I can’t stagnate nevertheless—if I must sail let it be on the ocean no matter how stormy—anything but a dull cruise on a level lake without ever losing sight f the same insipid shores by which it is surrounded.—” (quoted in Jamison 151)
Conflict of art and life
Roderick might have remained happy if Rowland had not taken him to Europe to cultivate his artistic talent; Rowland feels responsible for his happiness (280, 326, 335)
Roderick complains that Rowland must let him live (192)
Mrs. Hudson thinks artists are dissipated (76)
Rowland thinks an artist can and should be happy (81, 230); but perhaps he is just becoming defensive because he feels guilty about what he has done to Roderick

Roderick, a brief success in art, is a failure in life

James “seemed to think one could not enjoy both” passion and art (Edel HJL 167)

in Rowland and Roderick, James creates a two-sided self: the observer and the participant; this duality suggests the split of art and life and asks how record and live life; James seems to be looking through a “window” at his desires (Edel HJL 170); this “window” seems to be James’ compromise; like Miss Barrace in The Ambassadors, James participates in life by observing it


Christina Light is acting, but she believes in the role she plays

See Laura Jadwin in “The Pit”

International theme

Rowland considers it inadequate to inspire or at least to cultivate Roderick
Roderick says it is good enough for him
has models for Roderick
Rowland says burden of idleness is less in Europe
“We watch [Roderick] gradually substituting a life of excess for the placid horizons he has abandoned” (Edel HJL 170)


Psychological: Rowland admires Mary
Ideal: Roderick sees Christina as something to sculpt, something to impress, something to please

But never sexual


“Roderick” suggests Roderick Usher
Roderick is from Virginia
Roderick plans to marry his cousin
Roderick says “Nevermore”
Roderick talks of pure beauty (123)

Roderick is delicate and is eaten up by the world


Rowland slowly loses control over the course of the novel
Yet he retains a sense of responsibility for Roderick’s fate
Roderick feels controlled by his genius (190)


Rowland feels pressure to do something useful (50) and is unsure about usefulness of art (52)
Rowland wants to combine usefulness and beauty (58)
Mary asks him what he does all day (98)
Rowland says burden of idleness is less in Europe

Daisy Miller



brought him fame


Frederick Winterbourne

American in Europe
27 years old
spends time with his aunt in Vevey, Switzerland
attracted to Daisy Miller
name suggests both the stiffness for which Daisy criticizes him and his cold calculation in trying to woo Daisy
sees an older woman in Geneva
boldly proposes a date with Daisy after knowing her only a few minutes
“He had a pleasant sense that she would be very approachable for consolatory purposes” (16)

Daisy Miller

American in Europe
daughter of a rich businessman in Schenectady
resists European decorum and tries to do as she pleases

Mrs. Costello

Winterbourne’s aunt
punctilious about hiearchical class system and rejects the Millers

Mrs. Walker

friend of Winterbourne
lives in Rome
tries to protect Daisy from social ruin, but eventually participates in her destruction by snubbing her at her party, thus wounding her and driving her further away

Mr. Giovanelli

suitor of Daisy
genuinely loves Daisy


story opens at a famous hotel in Vevey, a popular resort town for Americans

Winterbourne chats with a gregarious boy and meets her sister, Daisy Miller, who is dressed in frills and ribbons

Winterbourne tells Daisy he wants to take her to Chillon

Mrs. Costello expresses her disapproval of the Millers: “They are very common.  They are the sort of Americans that one does one’s duty by not—not accepting” (12)

Daisy asks Winterbourne to take her out on a boat at night, but Eugenio advises against it

Daisy and Winterbourne take a boat to Chillon

Winterbourne refuses to accompany Daisy to Italy, and she throws a tantrum, suggesting that he has a lover in Geneva; Winterbourne agrees to come to Italy and see her in the winter, and Daisy stops teasing him (23)

Winterbourne arrives in Rome in January, but delays visiting Daisy because he has heard that she is surrounded by foreign men

The Millers show up at the house of Mrs. Walker, whom Winterbourne is visiting

After teasing Winterbourne about not coming to see her sooner, only to note the quaintness of his objection, Daisy asks Mrs. Walker if she may bring Mr. Giovanelli to her party

against the protests of Mrs. Walker and the weak ones of her mother, Daisy risks a cold to go see Mr. Giovanelli, and Winterbourne accompanies her

Daisy walks with the two men, and Mrs. Walker arrives to tell Winterbourne that 50 people have noticed the impropriety (30)

Mrs. Walker tells Winterbourne that Daisy has been sitting in corners with mysterious Italians, dancing all night with the same partners, and receiving visitors at 11 p.m.; she reveals that people are talking about her (33)

Daisy, Mr. Giovanell, and Winterbourne meet again at Mrs. Walker’s party, where Winterbourne simultaneously chides her for flirting and asks that she flirt with him, and Daisy again asserts her independence and rejection of European customs (36)

Mrs. Walker snubs Daisy on her departurne, and Daisy’s surprise moves Winterbourne

Winterbourne encounters Daisy and Giovanelli at the Colosseum and decides that she is disrespectable; he warns her that she must get out of the cold because she is risking illness (43)

Days later, Winterbourne learns that Daisy is ill

Mrs. Miller tells Winterbourne that Daisy has asked her to let him know that she is not engaged to Giovanelli

Daisy dies of the fever a week later

at Daisy’s funeral, Giovanelli tells Winterbourne that Daisy was innocent (45)

Winterbourne tells Mrs. Costello that he feels that he did Daisy an injustice by not showing her the esteem she wanted

Issues and themes


Daisy ignores European decorum, flirting with foreign men and accompanying them at inappropriate times
Daisy to Winterbourne: “I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me, or to interfere with anything I do” (29)
When Mrs. Walker tells her that walking with Giovanelli and Winterbourne is not the custom in Italy, Daisy replies: “Well, it ought to be!” (31)
When Mrs. Walker continues to urge her to get into the carriage, Daisy says: “I never heard anything so stiff!  If this is improper, Mrs. Walker, then I am all improper, and you must give me up” (32)


Winterbourne’s boldness is lost on Daisy, who casually remarks that her mother won’t want to go with them to Chillon
Mrs. Costello to Winterbourne: “You may be very sure she thinks of nothing.  She goes on from day to day, from hour to hour, as they did in the Golden Age” (38); this passage suggests that Daisy lives outside social rules; it turns out that this kind of pure self-assertion and neglect of society is impossible

International theme

American traits

Randolph is candid, forward
Mrs. Walker seems too preoccupied with reputation
Mrs. Miller's crudity and vulgarity--she and Daisy even use "ain't"--bothers Winterbourne, but I suspect we are to admire it; Americans take pride in their disdain for appearances and society
Winterbourne “remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that American women—the pretty onces, and this gave a largeness to the axiom—were at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness” (26)
“Mrs. Walker was one of those American ladies who, while residing abroad, make a point, in their own phrase, of studying European society, and she had on this occasion collected several specimens of her diversely born fellow mortals to serve, as it were, as textbooks” (34)

Europeanized Americans and European

Winterbourne is concerned about the Millers' vulgarity; he seems corrupted by the notion of society and manners; he also is false in his actions toward Daisy; he acts as if he is a gentleman and is worried about her reputation, but he occasionally admits what he's after: "You're a very nice girl, but I wish you'd flirt with me, and me only."
Daisy is American in her "vulgarity," but she plays the games of European society; she flirts with many men and uses some men, such as Giovanelli, to make Winterbourne jealous


Daisy Miller: “I like a lady to be exclusive; I’m dying to be exclusive myself.  Well, we are exclusive, mother and I.  We don’t speak to everyone—or they don’t speak to us.  I suppose it’s about the same thing” (15)

Relationship of Daisy and Winterbourne

Winterbourne decides Daisy is a flirt, but he boldly offers to go with her to Chillon (10)
Daisy seems to represent the artist; she manipulates Winterbourne and creates versions of herself at which Winterbourne can only slap helplessly
after giving Winterbourne an idea that she will go out in a boat with him at night, she says: “I hope you are disappointed, or disgusted, or something!” (20)
Daisy: “I like to make you say those things!  You’re a queer mixture” (21)
Winterbourne represents reality; she tells him he is too "stiff"; he too is false, but he fails in his attempts; he doesn't do what he likes; he tries to play Daisy for a bumpkin and take advantage of her, but she gets the better of him; that he admits of living "too long in foreign parts" suggests both that he was acting "foreign" to his true self and that he had picked up his cynicism from foreign countries


perspective: Winterbourne doesn’t know what to make of Daisy: “Was she simply a pretty girl from New York State—were they all like that, the the pretty girls who had a good deal of gentleman’s society?  Or was she also a designing, an audacious, an unscrupulous young person?” (9)
even after he has known her for some time, Winterbourne struggles to understand Daisy; he wonders if she is too naive and callow to perceive her ostracization or simply boldly resistant to custom (40)
seeing Daisy alone with Giovanelli at the Colosseum, Winterbourne decides that she is disrespectable, but he does not notice that “though he saw them vaguely, he himself must have been more brightly visible” (43); Winterbourne himself is a rake, and Daisy has come to that realization about him
moving picture of Daisy: although she seems innocent and careless of others’ opinions, she is upset when she learns that Mrs. Costello doesn’t want to know her (15), and she is puzzled when Mrs. Walker snubs her at her party (37)


Daisy is wrapped up with herself; she acts only to suit her desires and talks constantly of herself
“I’m very fond of society, and I have always had a great deal of it” (9)

Social issues

James commented elsewhere on the dangers of parents’ excessive “permisiveness” with their children (Edel HJR 402)

Mrs. Miller is so ignorant of decorum that she allows her daughter to destroy her reputation; for example, she allows Daisy and Winterbourne to go alone to Chillon (18) and, in a move that causes Mrs. Walker to call her “imbecile,” allows Daisy to go out pursuing Mr. Giovanelli (30)

“The Madonna of the Future”


1879: book form


Responding to a discussion of artists who produced but one masterpiece, H--- tells the story of an artist who “made his bid for fame and missed it” (18)

H--- describes encountering an artist at midnight in a Florence piazza

This artist, Theobald, speaks grandiloquently of his great vision, but H-- learns from Mrs. Coventry that he only talks and never puts brush to canvas to create this great work

Introduced to Theobald’s model, H--- upbraids him for allowing her to grow old and wasting his time in preparation

Although Theobald says he will begin, H--- later finds the sullen artist seated before a blank canvas; Theobald admits that he wasted his time

Within a week, Theobald dies


cultivation of art

art is not appreciated today; the artist says, “The days of illumination are gone.”  But, he says, there is something in the night that is making the art come alive tonight (20)

America does not cultivate art; the artist says, “We’re the disinherited of Art!  We’re condemned to be superficial. . . . An American, to excel, has just ten times as much to learn as a European!  We lack the deeper sense!  We have neither tact nor force!  How should we have them?  Our crude and garish climate, our silent past, our deafening present, the constant pressure about us of unlovely conditions, are as void of all that nourishes and prompts and inspires the artist as my sad heart is void of bitterness in saying so!  We poor aspirants must live in perpetual exile!” (21)

But H--- puts the responsibility for creation on the artist: “The only thing that helps is to do something fine.  There’s no law in our glorious Constitution against that.  Invent, create, achieve” (21).

commercial side of art

Theobald does not sell his work because doing so would corrupt his pursuit and force him to rush Art (22)

Meanwhile, another artist and friend of Serafina lives comfortably churning out vulgar statues that appeal to an audience (45-48)

artistic method

Raphael’s “Madonna of the Chair” betrays no method; rather, it is a blossoming out of the painter (25)

Theobald is always collecting material: “He takes his property wherever he finds it--he learns some precious secret from every object that stands up in the light” (30)

inspiration into form

Theobald an idea, which he describes to H---, who responds: Unless I’m mistaken you have a masterpiece on the stocks.  If you put all that in, you’ll do more than Raphael himself did.  Let me know when your picture’s finished, and wherever in the wide world I may be I’ll post back to Florence and pay my respects to--the Madonna of the future!” (27)

Mrs. Coventry reveals that everyone has given up on Theobald because he talks about his vision, but never tries to apply it (30)
While Mrs. Coventry does not expect a masterpiece right away, “we merely asked for something to keep us from yawning” (32): artist must start, must do something, even if it is not perfect
Theobald admits: “I waited and waited to be worthier to begin--I wasted my life in preparation” (48)

Life v. art

Serafina allows Theobald to indulge his imagination, observing her and describing his vision (43)

H--- ruins the man, however, by forcing him to face his incompetence for realizing this vision; thus, as in Roderick Hudson, art proves incompatible with life

The Portrait of a Lady

Publication: 1881


Isabel Archer

22 years old
father has died
aunt Lydia Touchett brings her to Europe to help her develop
resists marriage because she wants to be independent and give herself up to experience
later marries Gilbert Osmond

Ralph Touchett

American who now lives in England
Isabel Archer’s cousin
has feelings for her, but does not act on them
always has his hands in his pockets
struggles with disease and eventually dies

Caspar Goodwood

American businessman
used to getting what he wants, but has to deal with Isabel’s refusal to marry him
his physical features suggest “resolution”
not one to be “discouraged by a defeat” (73)

Gilbert Osmond

Ralph: “Oh yes, he is an American; but one forgets that; he is so little of one” (271)
40 years old
shady character who marries Isabel for her money
does little; collects things
Madame Merle describes him as a “cicerone in your own museum” (231)
father of Pansy
eye shows the “nature of the observer as well as of the dreamer” (220)
knows a lot about Italy and has a lot of “taste” (233)
says he has renounced the world because he knew he could not be anyone in it (248)
a foil of Ralph, the benevolent observer; Gilbert is the sinister observer; he does not step in to assist, but only coldly looks down at life in order to amuse himself and elevate himself in his own eyes; what is worse, he manipulates the characters in his show

Countess Gemini

sister of Gilbert Osmond
unhappily married to a nobleman
values feelings over reason: “I don’t care anything about reasons, but I know what I like” (242)

Mrs. Lydia Touchett

American who now lives in England and Italy
rarely sees her husband
wants to help Isabel develop in Europe
cold; “Mrs. Touchett might do a great deal of good, but she never pleased” (62)

Pansy Osmond

daughter of Gilbert Osmond and Madame Merle
15 years old when Isabel meets her, but acts like a child, perhaps because Gilbert has sheltered her from reality (315)
wants to marry Edward Rosier, but father wants her to marry Lord Warburton

Lord Warburton

English nobleman
35 years old
proposes to Isabel, who refuses him
later proposes to Pansy to get closer to Isabel, now her stepmother

Henrietta Stackpole

American journalist
looks out for Isabel

Madame Merle

American from Brooklyn
“She was in a word a woman of ardent impulses, kept in admirable order.  What an ideal combination! thought Isabel” (180)
mother of Pansy Osmond
persuades Gilbert Osmond to marry Isabel for her money

Edward Rosier

suitor of Pansy
Gilbert Osmond rejects him because he has no money
collector of bibelots
a foil of Gilbert Osmond; he, too, owns trinkets, but he is willing to surrender them for a chance at participation in life


Mr. Touchett, visiting with his son and Lord Warburton on his lawn at Gardencourt, tells Lord Warburton that he should try to marry because the “ladies will save us” (54)

Mrs. Lydia Touchett returns to Gardencourt from America with her niece Isabel Archer, whom she plans to take around Europe

Isabel tells Ralph: “I am very fond of my liberty” (61)

flashback to Mrs. Touchett’s discovery of Isabel in the library of her family’s mansion, where she goes to be transported by books; Mrs. Touchett brings her to Europe to “introduce her to the world” (78)

Ralph finds himself fascinated with Isabel as with a piece of art

Lord Warburton visits Gardencourt, where he woos Isabel

Henrietta Stackpole arrives in England, where she hopes to digest some lords and ladies and make a story for her American readers

Henrietta tells Isabel that Caspar Goodwood has come to England to bring Isabel back to America

Lord Warburton proposes to Isabel, and she refuses, saying she is not sure that she wants to marry (127)

Isabel and Henrietta go to London, and Henrietta meets Mr. Bantling, who promises to mention her to a relative in the country (153)

Caspar Goodwood confronts Isabel in London (162)

Isabel tries to brush off Caspar, saying he can’t lose her because he never had her; she tells him to leave her alone for two years (164)

Isabel meets Madame Merle, who is playing piano in the library of Gardencourt

when his father is on his deathbed, Ralph persuades him to leave half the money intended for him to Isabel so that she can indulge her craving for experience (185)

Madame Merle complains to Isabel that she has not realized her ambitions: “But my dreams were so great—so preposterous.  Heaven forgive me, I am dreaming now” (198)

Madame Merle warns Isabel not to refuse marriage too often and explains that accepting is itself a means of exerting power

Mr. Touchett dies (203)

Madame Merle visits Gilbert and Pansy Osmond at their home in Florence and tells Gilbert that she wants him to marry Isabel (231)

Isabel visits Gilbert and Pansy Osmond at their home in Florence (240)

Gilbert Osmond visits Isabel and Mrs. Touchett at the Palazzo Crescentini

waiting outside the Forum for Henrietta and Mr. Bantling, Isabel bumps into Lord Warburton, who tells her that he has not succeeded in forgetting her; he upsets her with this confession and promises not to mention it to her again (265-267)

Gilbert tells Isabel that he is in love with her; while she feels attracted to him, Isabel dreads giving herself up to marriage (282)

Isabel returns to Florence

Isabel spends a year traveling around the world (289)

Isabel travels with Madame Merle to Greece, Turkey, and Egypt and acts like a thirsty person “draining cup after cup” (292)

Isabel realizes that Madame Merle does not fully understand her, and their friendship reaches a “high watermark” (293)

Caspar Goodwood visits Isabel at the Palazzo Crescentini, where Isabel mentions her engagement to Gilbert Osmond; Goodwood questions her decision, and she cannot explain it (299)

Mrs. Touchett challenges Isabel’s decision to marry Gilbert Osmond and criticizes Madame Merle, who promised to prevent Isabel’s marriage and then promoted it (301)

Ralph laments Isabel’s decision to marry Gilbert Osmond and challenges her; she responds that she has seen the world and found that it was not so charming; she has decided to “choose a corner and cultivate that” (306)

Ralph tells Isabel: “You were not mean to be measured in that way—you were meant for something better than to keep guard over the sensibilities of a sterile dilettante” (309)

Edward Rosier visits Pansy, whom he has come to like after seeing her elsewhere

Isabel tells Edward Rosier that her father will not allow his marriage to Pansy because Rosier lacks money

Lord Warburton appears at a party at the Palazzo Rocanera and informs Isabel that Ralph, who is near death, has come to Rome

Gilbert Osmond pressures Isabel to persuade Lord Warburton to marry Pansy (367)

Isabel comes to see her marriage as restrictive; “she had suddenly found the infinite vista of a multiplied life to be a dark, narrow alley, with a dead wall at the end” (369)

“Nothing was a pleasure to her now; how could anything be a pleasure to a woman who knew that she had thrown away her life?” (375)

Isabel suspects that Lord Warburton wishes to marry Pansy to get closer to herself (385)

Henrietta Stackpole returns to Italy from America and tells the Countess Gemini she is going to see Isabel in Rome (389)

Caspar Goodwood visits Isabel in Rome and spends some time in the vicinity; finally, he tells her has has come to tell her that he loves her; she remains cold, but suggests that he may pity her from time to time

Isabel realizes that Madame Merle arranged her marriage to Gilbert Osmond (439) and suspects that he had desired her for her money (440)

at the Coliseum, Isabel bumps into Edward Rosier, who announces that he has sold his bibelots with the hope that the money he earned from the sale will make him an acceptable suitor to Pansy (446)

Gilbert sends Pansy back to the convent because he feels society is corrupting her

Gemini tells Isabel that Madame Merle and Gilbert Osmond had an affair, and Pansy was the result (458)

Isabel meets Pansy at the convent and promises she will return to see her

Henrietta tells Isabel that she is going to marry Mr. Bantling and live in London

on his deathbed, Ralph tells Isabel that he fears he ruined her by giving her the money (483)

Ralph dies, and Isabel remains at Gardencourt, wondering if she should return to her husband

Caspar Goodwood meets Isabel at Gardencourt and tells her that he understands her situation: “You are the most unhappy of women, and your husband’s a devil!” (492)

Caspar begs Isabel to leave Gilbert and go away with him, finally seizing and kissing her, but Isabel flees

Two days later, Caspar visits Henrietta and learns that Isabel has started for Rome

Issues and themes


The Portrait of a Lady
Gilbert Osmond tells Isabel that “one ought to make one’s life a work of art” (280)
Gilbert Osmond and Ralph think of life in terms of connoisseurship


reported to father that he was deeply enjoying writing the novel and contrasted himself with Zola and Flaubert, who wrote like galley slaves chained to their desks (Edel PL vi)
revised every part of the novel (Edel PL vi)
James saw it as a crowning achievement, “as wine is to water” (Edel PL vi)
set it aside to make money and fame with Daisy Miller, The Europeans, and several short stories (Edel PL vi)
serialization in Atlantic Monthly and Macmillan’s would pay him $6,000 (Edel PL vii)
James based Gilbert Osmond on his friend Francis Boott and Isabel Archer on his cousin Minny Temple, who died of TB before she had a chance to see Europe (Edel PL xv)
of his revisions to his novels, James said he was retouching old paintings to bring out the highlights (Edel PL xix)


Isabel sees a trip to Europe as a means of rebirth: “She had a desire to leave the past behind her, and, as she said to herself, to begin afresh” (70)
Europe is a giant museum: “the old-world quality in everything that she now saw had all the charm of strangeness.  Her uncle’s house seemed a picture made real” (87)
Americans, including Henrietta and Isabel, try to reduce Europe to a collection of “specimens” (95); Isabel says she would side with conservatives in a revolution because they “behave so picturesquely” (101)
like Mrs. Pocock and Mrs. Newsome in The Ambassadors, Henrietta fears that Europe is proving too attractive to the American abroad and tries to retrieve this person: “Isabel is changing every day; she is drifting away—right out to sea.  I have watched her and I can see it.  She is not the bright American girl she was.  Sheis taking different views, and turning away from her old ideals.  I want to save those ideals” (137)
Isabel craves “local color” (150)
Madame Merle to Isabel: “You should live in your own country; whatever it may be you have your natural place there.  If we are not good Americans we are certainly poor Europeans; we have no natural place here.  We are mere parasites, crawling over the surface; we haven’t our feet in the soil” (195); Merle suggests that an American cannot participate in experience in Europe; this detachment, however, is all the more reason for Isabel’s goal of merely seeing and knowing Europe
On Mrs. Touchett’s house in Florence: “The spirit of the past was shut up there, like a refugee from the outer world; it lurked in lonely corners, and, at night, haunted even the rooms in which Mrs. Touchett diffused her matter-of-fact influence.  Isabel used to hear vague echoes and strange reverberations; she had a sense of the hovering of unseen figures, of the flitting of ghosts.  Often she paused, listening, half-startled, half-disappointed, on the great cold stone staircase” (234)
Rome strikes Isabel as a well of history: “She had always been fond of history, and here was history in the stones of the street and the atoms of the sunshine” (264)
Caspar Goodwood notes that the Italian trains travel at the speed of an American funeral (295)
like her compatriot Daisy Miller, the American Isabel Archer rebels against the standards of decorum in Europe (374)


Celebration of experience
Isabel to Mrs. Touchett on her family’s house in Massachusetts: “I like places in which things have happened—even if they are sad things.  A great many people have died here; the place has been full of life” (67); Isabel craves experience, action
but she also has a powerful imagination; she seems driven by a need to satisfy her imagination: “On the contrary, it was because she felt too wide-awake, and wished to check the sense of seeing too many things at once.  Her imagination was by habit ridiculously active; it the door were not opened to it, it jumped out of the window” (70)
Isabel “carried within herself a great fund of life, and her deepest enjoyment was to feel the continuity between the movements of her own heart and the agitations of the world” (72)
Ralph asks himself what Isabel is going to do with herself.  “The question was irregular, for with most women one had no occasion to ask it.  Most women did with themselves nothing at all; they waited, in attitudes more or less gracefully passive, for a man to come that way and furnish them with a destiny.  Isabel’s originality was that she gave one an impression of having intentions of her own” (94)
Graham Greene asks precisely what this destiny is and concludes that it is to betray or to be betrayed; in the case of Isabel, she is betrayed by Gilbert Osmond (671)
Henrietta on Caspar Goodwood: “He is a man of action” (120)
Caspar’s willfulness and active nature intimidates Isabel.  “Sometimes Caspar Goodwood had seemed to range himself on the side of her desinty, to be the stubbornest fact she knew; she said to herself at such moments that she might evade him for a time, but that she must make terms with him at last—terms which would be certain to be favorable to himself” (133); Goodwood represents America, which pulls at Isabel with its insistence of action and practicality; she feels that she cannot continue to indulge her imagination in the museum of Europe
Isabel to Ralph: “No, I don’t wish to touch the cup of experience.  It’s a poisoned drink!  I only want to see for myself” (160); Isabel is more interested in knowledge and participation; she tells Caspar Goodwood: “I wish to choose my fate and know something of human affairs beyond what other people think it compatible with propriety to tell me” (169)
Isabel to Ralph: “I too don’t wish to marry until I have seen Europe” (160)
Ralph: “I call people rich when they are able to gratify their imagination.  Isabel has a great deal of imagination” (186)
Isabel appreciates Madame Merle for her capacity to think and feel (189)
Henrietta challenges the idleness of Americans in Paris: “You live here this way, but what does it all lead to?  It doesn’t seem to lead to anything, and I should think you would get very tired of it” (207)
Henrietta criticizes Isabel for living too much in dreams and not enough in reality; one must put one’s soul into life and be ready to displease oneself and others
Isabel feels that she has “gathered a rich experience” and become a different person during her travels around the world (289)
Isabel “gave an envious thought to the happier lot of men, who are always free to plunge into the healing waters of action” (339)
“When Isabel was unhappy, she always looked about her—partly from impulse and partly by theory—for some form of exertion.  She could never rid herself of the conviction that unhapiness was as a state of disease; it was suffering as opposed to action.  To act, to do something—it hardly mattered what—would therefore be an escape, perhaps in some degree a remedy” (361); finding something to do—today and with her life—is the dilemma for the contemporary lady Isabel represents; this woman does not have to work in the home, but she is partially restricted from working outside the home; what is she to do?
Denial of experience
Ralph always has his hands in his pockets (51); he suggests idleness, impotence
on Ralph: “A certain fund of indolence that he possessed came to his aid and helped to reconcile him to doing nothing; for at the best he was too ill for anything but a passive life.  As he said to himself, there was really nothing he had wanted very much to do, so that he had given up nothing.  At present, however, the perfume of forbidden fruit seemed occasionally to float past him, to remind him that the finest pleasures of life are to be found in the world of action” (76)
after Isabel begs him to show her the ghost, Ralph says: “It has never been seen by a young, happy, innocent person like you.  You must have suffered first, have suffered greatly, have gained some miserable knowledge.  In that way your eyes are opened to it.  I saw it long ago” (82); this is the flip side of experience—it brings suffering; moreoever, because a ghost is a detached presence, this passage also suggests the pain of passivity
Ralph thrives on watching Isabel act; like a piece of art, she is a source of fascination to him, and he derives his satisfaction from watching her act (94); he even refers to himself as a spectator in the game of life and explains his curiosity about Isabel’s affairs to her by saying that he has bought his ticket and wants to see the show (158)
like Augustine St. Clare in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Lord Warburton talks about change but never does anything about it; after all, disestablishment, while it makes for fashionable talk, would hurt him if it were to be realized (101, 144)
as in Roderick Hudson, a woman challenges a man’s idleness; Henrietta asks Ralph: “Do you always spend your time like this?”; Ralph responds: “I am the idlest man living” (113)
Isabel realizes that Madame Merle does not quite meet her ideals of friendship, but she admits that “there were essential reasons why one’s ideal could not become concrete.  It was a thing to believe in, not to see—a matter of faith, not of experience.  Experience, however, might supply us with very creditable imitations of it, and the part of wisdom was to make the best of these” (188); herein perhaps lies the distinction between seeing and doing; Isabel wants to be able to play with imaginary ideals, perhaps even basing them on evidence she witnesses in reality; when she stoops down into dirty reality, however, these ideals disintegrate, and she must cope with real, unpleasant consequences; for example, because of her less-than-ideal friendship with Madame Merle, she marries Gilbert Osmond and loses her liberty
Gilbert Osmond tells Isabel his plan in life has been to be “as quiet as possible” and “not to strive or struggle.  To resign myself” (247); thus, he represents the opposite of what Isabel has sought, and her marriage to him is tragic
Seeing as experience
on Gilbert Osmond: “His sensibility had governed him—possibly governed him too much; it had made him impatient of vulgar troubles and had led him to live by himself, in a serene, impersonal way, thinking about art and beauty and history.  He had consulted his taste in everything—his taste alone, perhaps; that was what made him so different from everyone else.  Ralph had something of this same quality, this appearance of thinking that life was a matter of connoisseurship; but in Ralph it was an anomaly, a kind of humorous excrescence, whereas in Mr. Osmond it was the key-note, and everything was in harmony with it” (245)
Isabel’s status as a woman who rejected an English lord attracts Gilbert Osmond, who “perceived a new attraction in the idea of taking to himself a young lady who had qualified herself to figure in his collection of choice objects by rejecting the splendid offer of a British aristocrat” (276)
in allowing herself to be engaged to Gilbert Osmond, Isabel has given in to detached observation as a form of experience; she says of him: “Mr. Osmond has never scrambled nor struggled—he has cared for no worldly prize. . . . He knows everything, he understands everything” (310)
Gilbert Osmond compares Isabel to a silver plate (313)
Ralph notes that Isabel has become superficial; indeed, she has come to resemble Gilbert in her detachment: “...she appeared now to think there was nothing worth people’s either differing about or agreeing upon.  Of old she had been curious, and now she was indifferent, and yet in spite of her indifference her activity was greater than ever” (345)
Gilbert values the world only as a vulgar entity by which to measure his own superiority (373)


Isabel to Ralph: “I am very fond of my liberty” (61)
Mrs. Touchett “had her own way of doing everything she did” (62); she represents will, independence
“Henrietta, for Isabel, was chiefly a proof that a woman might suffice to herself and be happy.”  Isabel admires Henrietta’s commitment to a vocation and hopes that she, too, will find a calling (86)
Isabel writes to Lord Warburton: “We see our lives from our own point of view; that is the privilege of the weakest and humblest of us; and I shall never be able to see mine in the manner you proposed” (135)
Isabel resists marriage because she sees it as an easy way out; she wants to experience life as everyone else does; she tells Lord Warburton that she doesn’t want to separate herself “From life.  From the usual chances and dangers, from what most people know and suffer” (146)
Isabel delights in the power she has exercises in rejecting Warburton and Goodwood (171)
Isabel realizes that he is under the “influence” of Madame Merle, but convinces herself that this is not a problem (190); however, it is this admiration—a sort of marriage to Madame Merle, or at least to the ideals she represents—that leads to Isabel’s loss of liberty


Madame Merle argues to Isabel that an individual is merely a collection of “appurtenances”; clothes and friends are merely extensions and expressiosn of the self (199)
Isabel disagrees: “I don’t know whether I succeed in expressing myself, but I know that nothing else expresses me” (199)
Madame Merle to Isabel: “Don’t mind anything that anyone tells you about anyone else.  Judge everyone and everything for yourself” (236)
Gilbert Osmond sees in Isabel an opportunity to succeed; he seeks to make an impression “not largely but deeply”—that is deeply on one person (279)
Ralph laments Isabel’s engagement: “You seemed to me to be soaring far up in the blue—to be sailing in the bright light, over the heads of men.  Suddenly somone tosses up a faded rosebud—a missile that never should have reached you—and down you drop to the ground.  It hurts me” (308)
Isabel wonders briefly whether Madame Merle is to blame for her unhappy marriage, but decides that she must bear the responsibility for her own actions (354)


Henrietta Stackpole is more interested in “specimens” that will suit her expectations and readers’ interests than in real people; she speaks of types: “the alienated American,” “the American faithful still” (111)
Henrietta complains that Lord Warburton and the others are “bad material” because they do not meet her expectations (149)
James himself worked as a correspondent for the Tribune and sought to fill his articles with big names; in Paris, he rubbed elbows with Turgenev, Maupassant, Flaubert, Zola, the Goncourts, and others (Canby 111)


Isabel to Mrs. Touchett: “I am not stupid, but I don’t know anything about money” (66); Isabel marginalizes money, setting it apart from culture; in some ways, the novel does the same—characters do not have to go to work and make a living; precisely because they have money, it does not play a large role in their lives
still, money is present as a means to other things; Isabel “made up her mind that to be rich was a virtue, because it was to be able to do, and to do was sweet” (206)
money turns out to be a dangerous means, however; for Isabel, it winds up trapping her—in marriage to the greedy Gilbert Osmond—instead of freeing her


Caspar wants to know what his reward will be for waiting two years to approach Isabel again; he is interested in the cash value of things (164)
Mrs. Touchett says of Ralph’s life: “It has not been a successful life,” and Isabel responds: “No—it has only been a beautiful one” (479)


Isabel wants to refuse Lord Warburton’s proposal of marriage, but she struggles with her desire to rise above marriage and in an interior monologue asks herself whether pride is dictating her actions (130)
Isabel worries that fortune will bring obligation; with it, she has freedom, and she worries she won’t use her freedom to its best advantage (215)
Isabel answers her own questions about what has become of her ambitions for experience by telling herself that she has chosen a different ambition: that of loving another and giving herself up to him (314)
Isabel has given up her ambitions to see and experience the world in order to devote herself to love, but she realizes after her marriage that she has chosen the wrong man to love (373)


“we are never given a personage wholly as the author sees him”; reader sees characters through other characters’ eyes; in the case of Madame Merle, we see her from the perspectives of Isabel, Mrs. Touchett, Ralph, and the Countess Gemini (Edel PL xiii)
“In the process we learn also how reality eludes us—or how we hide from it—as James is always showing us in his fiction” (Edel PL xiii)
Isabel writes to Lord Warburton: “We see our lives from our own point of view; that is the privilege of the weakest and humblest of us; and I shall never be able to see mine in the manner you proposed” (135)
Osmond’s house, which resembles a museum in its collection of precious tapestries and the like,  shows his interest in observation rather than participation (219)
like Osmond himself, the house is dangerous: “There was something rather severe about the place; it looked somehow as if, once you were in, it would not be easy to get out” (239)
Structure (Edel PL xi)
Part 1: Isabel approaches her decision
Part 2: Isabel deals with her decision


Gilbert Osmond shuns any form of success that requires too much effort or whose attainment involves a risk of failure (277)
Ralph describes Osmond as inactive, limited, “small” (309)
Gilbert compares the life ahead of them to a summer afternoon (314); this comparison suggests Gilbert’s idleness
Isabel has stumbled into an unhappy marriage; charmed by Gilbert Osmond, she had acted smaller than she really was and so deceived him about her personality; meanwhile, she had failed to conceive of his whole personality; as a result, neither got what they expected, and now both are unhappy (370)
Isabel feels trapped by her marriage; she recognizes Gilbert as her master and believes she must honor some traditions of marriage; nonetheless, she discreetly defies him by going to see Ralph (397)
Isabel feels guilty because she has mistreated Caspar: “It had been painful to see him, because he represented the only serious harm that (to her belief) she had ever done in the world; he was the only person with an unsatisfied claim upon her.  She had made him unhappy; she couldn’t help it; and his unhappiness was a great reality” (414); in this guilt is a recognition of one’s limited freedom and one’s obligation to others
Isabel tells Henrietta that she cannot leave Gilbert because publishing her mistake in marrying him would not be “decent”: “I married him before all the world; I was perfectly free; it was impossible to do anything more deliberate.  One can’t change, that way” (417); this passage suggests both external and internal restrictions on behavior
Caspar to Isabel: “We can do absolutely as we please; to whom under the sun do we owe anything?” (493)

novel asks how much control does the individual have over his or her own life; “why do we see youth, brimming with hope and promise, facing a world that is bright and sunny, with all the unmeasured years still to be poured out, and then discover that certain fatal steps, certain wrong turnings, dim the brightness, fill the years with bitterness, or cut them short before their time?” (Edel PL x)

Isabel is betrayed by her own nature; she chooses the safe path because it is the only one she is capable of choosing (Edel PL xi)

“Strange as it may seem, Gilbert Osmond expressed one side of his creator’s character—the hidden side of Henry James: that side which loves power and sought to win it by his pen” (Edel PL xii)

Isabel and Gilbert are attracted to each other because each represents power; once together, however, they enter into a war of wills, each trying to subjugate the other (Edel PL xii)

like many other stories James wrote—Roderick Hudson, Watch and Ward—this novel contains a character, Ralph Touchett, who tries to live through another by somehow controlling that person’s actions


Mr. Touchett says “the ladies will save us” (54)
Isabel notes that Pansy “will be an easy victim to fate” (286)
Isabel “gave an envious thought to the happier lot of men, who are always free to plunge into the healing waters of action” (339)
Isabel rebels against Gilbert’s insistence on maintaining decorum and realizes the source of his displeasure: “The real offense, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all” (374)
Henrietta advises Isabel to leave her husband and points out that such action is common in “our western cities,” where the future lies (427)
James saw that the role of women would become a central issue and took an interest not in politics or careers but in the way in a woman could “order her life” (Edel PL v)
James gives Isabel her freedom through monetary means and then sees what happens

"The Real Thing"

Publication: 1892


I. Picturesque Monarchs ask painter to use them as models; they are unknown to the artist

II. Artist puts together pieces to draw a portrait of their past; they have been models all of their lives, looking the part of the beautiful people in drawing rooms; he comes to "like them"; they sell themselves as "the real thing"

III. Artist starts painting the Monarchs and finds them too stiff; "I adored variety and range, I cherished human accidents, the illustrative note; I wanted to characterise closely, and the thing in the world I most hated was the danger of being ridden by a type." Artist meets the Italian man, who turns out to be a different kind of real thing, one of imagination--or at least one who allows the artist to achieve the real thing. He and Miss Churm allow the artist to paint "the ideal thing"

IV. Artist dismisses the Monarchs; "they seem to me to have pervaded my life not a little." Artist acknowledges that what he painted with them as models was "the wrong thing"; artist treasures the memory of the Monarchs, something better than art

Issues and themes


real in the traditional sense of real life; the photograph; the Monarchs, as their name indicates, are real noble people

real in the sense of real truth, which transcends just the facts; art; the artist achieves this real thing, the ideal thing, through the Italian and Miss Churm

applied to James the artist: Like the painter in the story, James tries to select aspects of real life in order to achieve truth

the painter cannot use them as models to climb to a higher plane; every time he paints them, he says, his work looks like a photograph; he doesn't want a photograph; he wants a truth; as a artist, he wants to achieve that truth through conscious effort

“The Figure in the Carpet”


published in 1896

written for a new magazine, Cosmopolis

James had just failed on the stage with “Guy Domville”

James needed money


Author Hugh Vereker reveals to the narrator, a minor critic, that he has put in all of his work a special something, a string for the pearls, a “buried treasure,” a “figure in the carpet,” that no critic has managed to pinpoint

he refuses to tell the critic what it is; indeed, he already has expressed it through his work; he could “formulate” it IF he were a critic; it is up to the critics, then, to define it

Vereker: “I live almost to see if it will ever be detected” (26)

Vereker says it can’t be described in “cheap journalese”

“It governs every word, it chooses every word . . .”

As the narrator tries to unearth the treasure, he finds that he loses appreciation of the subordinate things in the work that had always delighted him

comment on literary criticism?
echoes of “Ethan Brand”

Narrator finally gives up, but fellow critic George Corvick and his fiancee de facto take up the search

In reading Vereker’s work, Corvick had “caught whiffs and hints of he did n’t know what, faint wandering notes of a ‘hidden music’”

Giving up the conscious search, Corvick leaves the country and only then--when he is living, not studying--solves the puzzle

He marries Gwendolen Erme and reveals it to her, but does not tell the narrator, leaving him to learn about it in Corvick’s definitive essay on Vereker

Corvick dies in an accident before he has a chance to finish the essay

Erme refuses to tell

Erme marries Drayton Deane

After Erme and Vereker both die, the narrator presses Deane to tell, only to learn that he does not knew

Issues and themes


Corvick can afford the luxury of devoting all his time to trying to solve a puzzle

story itself is a puzzle and is esoteric in its themes


James often went to Lady Jane’s house, where he witnessed some of the activity described here

Vereker’s comment “. . . I feel most what a failure I am!” (325) has echoes of James’ failure on the stage


Corvick tries to catch hold of the tail of the story

James writes often in his notebooks that he is trying to catch hold of the tale of an idea


story reads like a detective story; the reader, along with the narrator, waits for the revelation; in particular, “buried treasure” is suggestive of “The Gold-Bug”

Vereker, in saying that the secret governs every word, echoes Poe’s discussions of the methodical creation of literature

The Turn of the Screw

Publication: 1898


frame: people are exchanging stories; and one tells this one, taken from the diary of a former governess

a well-to-do man hires a young woman to act as governess to his brother’s children, Miles and Flora, at a mansion where they live in Britan

the man insists that the governess never bother him with information about them

the governess notices that the children are acting suspiciously and believes that they have a relationship with the ghosts of a former valet, Peter Quint, and the children’s former governess, Miss Jessel

confronted by the governess about this relationship, Miles dies

Issues and themes


ambiguities in James's life during his "Treacherous Years" near the turn of the century

liminal time at turn of century is time of anxiety for people in general
James had been uprooted as a child
during this period, he faced some fears from childhood by living them in his writing
stories from this period deal with vulnerable children who cannot find security in people in whom they should find security
James feared loss of identity

ambiguities in story

"he" often leaves reader and characters wondering: "What if he should see him?" "Little Miles? That's what he wants!" ... "The child?" "Heaven forbid! The man." (492)
Dialogue often continues without identification of the speakers. Often reader loses track of who is speaking
convoluted syntax makes meaning of sentences hard to glean
Did governess really see the apparitions? Because the story comes to us through her point of view, we want to believe her, but neither Mrs. Gross nor the boy sees the apparitions when she does (528 and 541)
Are the children good or bad?
Did Quint and Jessel inhabit the children's bodies? "We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped." (541)
Are children young or old?
What happened in schoolroom? She doesn't report a conversation with Miss Jessel at first, but then tells Mrs. Gross that she did speak to her


actions take place at liminal places: stairs, where the governess sees the apparitions; windows, where she sees Quint and where Flora looks to communicate with one of the ghosts

actions take place at liminal time of dusk

story deals with border between supernatural and sensory

see handout

The Ambassadors



appears serially in North American Review


Lewis Lambert Strether

55 years old
American from Massachusetts
friend of Waymarsh
in Europe to bring Chad Newsome back to America, where Chad is to take over family business and marry Mamie Pocock
he married young, but his wife died early, and his son died as a child, perhaps because Strether in his grief did not care well enough for him (91)
edits a review owned by Mrs. Newsome


American from Connecticut
friend of Strether
45 years old
has not lived with his wife for 15 years

Maria Gostrey

meets Strether early in novel
acts an ambassador to Americans, but says she wants to give them enough experience to make them go home and leave Europe to the Europeans
source of fascination for Strether
falls in love with Strether and says she would do anything for him (512)


“distinguished sculptor, almost formidable” (199)
came from Italy to France, where, “with a personal lustre almost violent, he shone in a constellation: all of which was more than enough to crown him, for his guest, with the light, with the romance, of glory” (199)

John Little Bilham

friend of Chad’s
often converses with Strether, who tells him to live all he can
American who has absorbed much of Europe’s ideals, including seeing

Chad Newsome

son of Mrs. Newsome
Strether has been assigned to bring him back to Woollett, Massachusetts, where he will take over the family business
but Europe has changed him and made him more worldly, experienced, epicurean
has a “virtuous attachment” to Marie de Vionnett; this attachment turns out to be intimate

Mrs. Newsome

resident of Woollett
never appears in person
writes to Strether
wants Strether to return Chad to Woollett
engaged to Strether

Jim Pocock

husband of Sarah Pocock, Mrs. Newsome’s daughter
comes with Sarah to Europe to bring Chad back to Woollett
does not side with his wife; sees Europe has a pleasant place to escape
Strether says he serves as a “warning” to Chad, ostensibly of what can happen to a man who allows himself to be locked into the life of Woollett and traditional American marriage

Mamie Pocock

Jim Pocock’s sister
supposed to marry Chad
comes to Europe to save Chad, but sees that he already has been saved

Sarah Pocock

wife of Jim Pocock
daughter of Mrs. Newsome
sister of Chad
comes to Europe to save Chad
pawn of Mrs. Newsome
fails to see that Chad is better off in Europe

Marie de Vionnet

French countess
mother of Jeanne de Vionnet
turns out to be intimate with Chad

Jeanne de Vionnet

daughter of Marie de Vionnet
believed by Strether to be the object of Chad’s affection


waiting for his friend Waymarsh at a hotel, Strether meets Maria Gostrey and walks with her

they meet Waymarsh back at the hotel

Strether and Gostrey go out out to dinner, where, captivated by her dress, Strether finds himself comparing Gostrey to Mrs. Newsome, to Newsome’s detriment (92)

Strether explains to Gostrey his reason for being in Europe: he is here to bring Chad Newsome back to America, where he is to take over the family business of making something “vulgar” and marry Mamie Pocock

Strether thinks he has missed the boat of life

Strether dines with Waymarsh and tells him about seeking Chad at his apartment, but finding only little Bilham

Strether admits to Waymarsh that he wants to bring Chad home in order to please Mrs. Newsome (134)

Strether meets Gostrey in her small, crowded apartment, and they go to the theatre

Chad appears at Gostrey’s box at the theater, and Strether notes that Chad has changed dramatically (153)

after the play, Strether tells Chad that he has come to take him home (163)

Strether asks Chad if there is a woman in his life, and he responds that Europe attracts him (171)

Little Bilham tells Strether has a “virtuous attachment” to a woman in Europe (187)

Strether meets Gloriani and feels as if the brilliant figure is judging his mundane life (199)

Strether meets Madame de Vionnet and sees that she is not wealthy (210)

Strether says life has passed him and encourages little Bilham to seize it

Strether sees the beautiful young Madamoiselle de Vionnet (217)

Strether asks Chad if he is staying in Europe because he is engaged to Madamoiselle de Vionnet, and Chad says no; instead, he says, he wants to keep Strether there because it is doing him good (228)

Marie de Vionnet asks Strether to report favorably on her and her daughter to Mrs. Newsome (242)

Little Bilham suggests that Chad is in love with Marie de Vionnet but cannot marry her and that he would benefit by returning to America, where he could put her out of his mind (267)

Maria Gostrey leaves Paris for several weeks

Strether goes alone to Notre Dame, where he can collect himself, and finds Marie de Vionnet there (271)

Marie tells Strether that she fears Mrs. Newsome will try to marry Chad off if he returns to Woollett

Mrs. Newsome cables Strether that he must try to bring Chad home or at least return home himself (290)

Dissatisfied with Strether, Mrs. Newsome sends Sarah, Jim, and Mamie Pocock to retrieve Chad

Marie de Vionnet tells Strether that she is marrying Jeanne to a young man

Strether suggests that Little Bilham marry Mamie Pocock and admits he desires such a marriage because it would take Mamie out of the picture for Chad (392)

Little Bilham later tells Strether that Mamie feels unneeded when she realizes that she doesn’t need to “save” Chad because he already has been saved (396)

Miss Barrace tells Strether that she and others see him as the “hero of the drama” and wait to see what he will do in the struggle over Chad; she then begs Strether to keep Chad from returning to America, saying: “We love him here—he’s charming” (402)

Waymarsh tells Strether that he and the Pococks are leaving Paris

Sarah Pocock reveals her disgust over Marie de Vionnet, asking Strether: “Do you consider her even an apology for a decent woman?” (419)

Chad points out that his mother and Sarah Pocock could have left him alone, and Strether says: “But they’ve made up their minds to the opposite—that you can’t go on as you are” (430)

Strether tells Maria Gostrey: “I want you here” (440), and she later tells him: “I do have you, however, from the moment you express a wish” (442)

Strether travels out to the countryside with the hope of encountering the world as he has seen it depicted in a Lambinet painting (452)

Strether bumps into Chad and Marie in the country and realizes they are intimate

Strether waits for Chad or Marie to come to him, but they don’t come, and he spends several wonderful days “showing” Paris to Maria Gostrey

Strether finds Chad at his apartment and tells him he would be a “brute” to abandon Marie (499)

Strether sees Maria and suggests that Chad eventually will leave Marie

Strether says it is “over” for both him and Chad in Woollett

Strether says he must leave Maria in order to “be right” (512)

Issues and themes


Strether sees the world in painterly terms: ““. . . but though there had been people enough all round it there had been but three of four persons in it.  Waymarsh was one of these, and the fact struck him just now as marking the record.  Mrs Newsome was another, and Miss Gostrey had of a sudden shown signs of becoming a third.  Beyond, behind them was the pale figure of his real youth, which held against its breast the two presences paler than itself—the young wife he had early lost and the young son he had stupidly sacrificed” (114)
Little Bilham finds that “his productive power faltered in proportion as his knowledge grew” (146)
impressionistic novel
made up of blurred lines and indistinct impressions
Strether struggles to combine art and experience; Impressionism, which calls on the viewer to “fill in the gaps” in a painting, requires an active presence
See Experience


on Mrs. Gostrey: “He had quite the sense that she knew things he didn’t, and though this was a concession that in general he found not easy to make to women, he made it now as good-humouredly as if it lifted a burden” (61)
Foils: characters who, through strong contrast, underscore traits of other characters
Waymarsh’s detachment from Europe underscores Strether’s growing interest in it
Maria Gostrey’s humanity and down-to-earth nature underscores Marie de Vionnet’s European artificiality; she is an object to behold; she is wonderful; but she is not someone to love; she would never say, as Maria does, that she would do anything for Strether


James wrote it with the intention of serializing it
James says in his preface that the book should be read five pages at a time
title may have come from The Ambassadors, a painting with which James was familiar
journals reveal that the germ of the novel came from a story James had heard about William Dean Howells; Howells had told a mutual friend, Jonathan Sturges, that he felt life had gone past him and advised Sturges: “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to” (374)
in his journals, James says the point of the novel is to deal with “the revolution that takes place in the poor man, the impression made on him by the particular experience” (375)


Gostrey: “I’m a general guide—to ‘Europe’, don’t you know?  I wait for people—I put them through. . . . I’m a companion at large” (65)
Gostrey: “I bear on my back the huge load of our national consciousness, or, in other words . . . of our nation itself” (66)
“I only seem, you see, to beguile and approve; but I’ve thought it all out and I’m working all the while underground. . . . I send you back spent.  So you stay back” (78)
Chad and little Bilham are ambassadors of French culture to Strether
Effect on Americans
Waymarsh “hadn’t got into tune with it and had at the end of three months almost renounced any such expectation” (70)
Chad has changed dramatically (154); he is “smooth” and has style (166)
Europe has the force of a woman in attracting Chad (171); Americans, however, struggle to understand the draw of culture; Chad asks Strether: “Do you think one’s kept only by women?”; “Is that what they think at Woollett?”; “I must say then you show a low mind!” (172)
Europeans revel in conversation and debate; “There were opinions at Woollett, but only three or four” (182)
Miss Barrace delights in Waymarsh’s ability to experience Europe without letting it overwhelm or even affect him; she says he will “last” here, while others will not: “He doesn’t understand—not one little scrap.  He’s delightful.  He’s wonderful” (206)
men from dreary Woollett see Europe as a place where they can escape to something exotic; Strether tells Marie de Vionnett: “. . . men of my age, at Woollett—and especially the least likely ones—have been noted as liable to strange outbreaks, belated uncanny clutches at the unusual, the ideal.  Its an effect that a lifetime of Woollett has quite been observed as having” (357)
Europe shapes people; Strether: “But such an occasion as this, whether or no, isn’t the people.  It’s what has made the people possible” (391)
Europe is a source of experience: Strether says of Jim Pocock: “He fortunately—‘over here’, as he says—finds the world everywhere” (439)
as merely a show
Miss Barrace simply looks at life as if looking through a shop-window (205)
Strether to little Bilham: “You’ve all of you here so much visual sense that you’ve somehow all ‘run’ to it.  There are moments when it strikes one that you have n’t any other” (207)
Europeans are not interested in material reality, only in impressions: Miss Barrace to Strether: “Oh I like your Boston ‘reallys’!” (207)
narrator compares Paris to Babylon, which is associated in the Bible with harlotry, and thus artificiality


Strether, like Marcher in “The Beast in the Jungle,” waits for something to happen to him:
Strether realizes that he has never taken anyone anywhere (91)
“There were instants at which he could ask whether, since there had been fundamentally so little question of his keeping anything, the fate after all decreed for him had n’t been only to be kept.  Kept for somthing, in that event, that he did n’t pretend, did n’t possibly dare as yet to divine; something that made him hover and wonder and laugh and sigh, made him advance and retreat, feeling half ashamed of his impulse to plunge and more than half afraid of his impulse to wait” (116)
Chad has the face “of a man to whom things had happened and were variously known” (166)
“There were ‘movements’ he was too late for: were n’t they, with the fun of them, already spent? . . . If the playhouse was n’t closed, his seat had at least fallen to somebody else” (118)
Strether thinks in terms of playing roles and going through motions, not of acting freely and purposefully; of his delivery of Mrs. Newsome’s summons to Chad: “It gave him really almost the sense of having already acted his part” (165)
Strether drinks up marvellous effect of Gloriani: “Strether, in contact with that element as he had never yet so intimately been, had the consciousness of opening to it, for the happy instant, all the windows of his mind, of letting this rather grey interior drink in for once the sun of a clime not marked in his old geography” (199)
Strether thinks Gloriani is judging his mundane life: “. . . it was for all the world to Strether just then as if in the matter of his accepted duty he had positively been on trial.  The deep human expertness in Gloriania’s charming smile—oh the terrible life behind it!—ws flashed upon him as a test of his stuff” (200)

Strether says life has passed him and encourages little Bilham to seize it: “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.  It does n’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life.  If you have n’t had that what have you had?. . . I have n’t done so enough before—and now I’m old; too old at any rate for what I see . . . And it’s as if the train had fairly waited at the station for me without my having had the gumption to know it was there.  Now I hear its faint receding whistle miles and miles down the line” (215)

However, Strether goes on to say that one is poured into a mold and must deal with restrictions; “Still, one has the illusion of freedom; therefore don’t be, like me, without the memory of that illusion” (215)
Strether is an ambassador, one who is denied personal involvement in experience: Strether tells Miss Barrace that he has no life of his own: “I seem to have a life only for other people” (255)
Like James, Strether writes about life while remaining detached from it: “He had added that he was writing, but he was of course always writing; it was a practice that continued, oddly enough, to relieve him, to make him come nearer than anything else to the consciousness of doing something; so that he often wondered if he had n’t really, under his recent stress, acquired some hollow trick, one of the specious arts of make-believe” (301)
of Chad and company, Strether tells Maria Gostrey: “I mean they’re living.  They’re rushing about.  I’ve already had my rushing.  I’m waiting” (369)
can be seen as opposing life and experience because it does not involve active participation; thus, it is like art
can be seen as a part of life and experience, for “to see” is often used as a synonym for “to understand”; indeed, in Europe, seeing is a means of partaking of experience; one experiences the world by drinking it in through the eyes

Strether admires Miss Barace’s amused detachment: “She seemed, with little cries and protests and quick recognitions, movements like the darts of some fine high-feathered free-pecking bird, to stand before life as before some full shop-window” (205)

Strether defends Marie de Vionnet not as moral, but as “wonderful”—that is, an object to be admired: “She has struck me from the first as wonderful.  I’ve been thinking too moreover that, after all, she would probably have represented even for yourself something rather new and rather good” (419)

Strether is most satisfied when he enters the countryside and, in so doing, feels he is experiencing a favorite painting by Lambinet (452); it is significant that it is here that he encounters Chad and Marie, for this is Europe; the world of wonder, art, seeing, artificiality
Little Bilham, referring to Strether’s earlier injunction to him to “live” all he can, substitutes the word “see” for “live”: “Did n’t you adjure me, in accents I shall never forget, to see, while I’ve a chance, everything I can?—and really to see, for it must have been that only you meant” (262)


Strether cherishes time when he doesn’t have obligations (55)
Strether decides that Chad is a Pagan (170); this characterization appeals to Strether because it suggests someone without obligations
Strether longs to escape others because others represent obligations to him; he escapes to Notre Dame alone and later escapes to countryside, where he “walked and walked as if to show himself how little he had now to do; he had nothing to do but turn off to some hillside where he might stretch himself and hear the poplars rustle . . .” (454)
in the end, Strether leaves Maria because he says he must “be right,” thus suggesting the draw of the Puritanical standards of Woollett (512)
the image of the clock, which appears near the beginning and also at the end suggests restraint, structure;
although it is never named, the item that the Newsome’s company makes is likely a clock;
a clock is a common, mundane household object
a clock strikes at the moment that Strether is about to tell Maria what this item is
a clock is also mentioned at the end at a similar moment
Europe provides a place where Strether can achieve freedom of imagination


Strether is between American values—represented by Waymarsh, Mrs. Newsome, and Sarah Pocock—and European values—represented by Marie de Vionnet and Miss Barrace


limited omniscient through Strether
narrator is not limited to Strether’s mind
see Psychological realism


Gostrey has an air of “understanding the effect of things” (65)
Strether defends Marie de Vionnet because she has had a positive effect on Chad: “. . . what has happened, don’t you see? is that Chad’s has been affected so beautifully.  The proof of the pudding’s in the eating” (420)

Psychological realism

Hazy stream of consciousness
on the question of whether there is a woman in his life, Chad says: “It’s all so vague” (171)
on Strether’s thoughts about Marie de Vionnet: “He was moving verily in a strange air and on ground not of the firmest” (253)
suspense and mystery are part of this stream of consciousness; pronouns and vague nouns go unidentified because we are in Strether’s mind; he may be able to identify them and so doesn’t continually name them, or he may be unclear himself as to the subjects of his thoughts
Strether, like any human, sees only part of reality: “Was he, on this question of Chad’s improvement, fantastic and away from the truth?  Did he live in a false world, a world that had grown simply to suit him, and was his present slight irritation . . . but the alarm of the vain thing menaced by the touch of the real?” (328)
suspense and mystery—as in the case of Chad’s relationship with Marie—are part of Strether’s limited perspective
various characters talk about saving Chad, but they mean different things; Mrs. Newsome wants to save him from the immoral climate of Europe; Marie de Vionnet wants to save him from the dreariness of Woollett; Strether and Mamie come to save him from Europe and wind up believing he needs to be saved from Woollett
elusive nature of psychological experience
Strether tells Sarah Pocock: “I don’t think there’s anything I’ve done in any such calculated way as you describe.  Everything has come as a sort of indistinguishable part of everything else” (418)
Classification systems
Strether sees things in black and white: Europe v. America, art v. work
Humans manage multi-faceted reality by setting up classification systems; indeed, linguists have noted that one means of bridging the distance between the infinite nature of signified and the finite number of signifiers is classification

Status in James’ oeuvre

culmination of his work
James says in his preface that it is his favorite
“He had just worked round—and with a sharper turn of the screw than any yet—to the conception of an American intense as little Bilham was intense” (145)
“It was sufficiently flattering however that the real thing—if this was at last the real thing—should have been determined, as appeared, precisely by an accretion of Strether’s importance” (227)


in his project for the novel, James says each of the 12 books should be like shining medallions on the wall; this image suggests independent elements that can be admired collectively or sequentially
12 books suggest epic
dramatic: characters engage in dialogue in various “scenes”


Negatives: “. . . he wouldn’t be less to their purpose for not looking, as he had too often done of old, only bold and wild” (164)
Convolutions; James takes the long way to explain something: “This tone was so far successful as that Chad quite appeared to recognize her as a person whose fame had reached him, but against his acquaintance with whom much mischance had worked” (175)
conversations are not clean and clear

characters misunderstand each other; Strether says of Sarah Pocock, “I must see her,” and Chad thinks he means Mrs. Newsome (431)

non sequitirs

Maria: “And does that make you want her any more?”

Strether: “I’ve tremendously disappointed her” (443)
Reasons for difficult style
See Art: Impressionism
non sequitirs suggest a kind of stream of consciousness
forces reader to participate in the same struggle for comprehension that Strether undergoes; in this respect, it is a realistic novel; that is, like the real world, it confronts us with a lot of unconnected material and forces us to make the connections; see Psychology
qualifiers reflect James’ fascination with the complexity of reality


Strether admires Waymarsh because he makes money
Strether: “And I though with a back quite as bent, have never made anything.  I’m a perfectly equipped failure” (84)

"The Beast in the Jungle"

title is primal, as is the theme of finding meaning in one's life

story's length puts us in Marcher's shoes; like him, we have to wait as the story inches slowly along


it could have been a great love shared with May if Marcher had chosen that fate

but he didn't exercise his will and what happens to him is nothing; his great fate was that he was the rare human to whom nothing happens

jungle: life



Marcher=March (winter, cold, death, lifeless)
May (spring, warmth, growth, life)
March approaches May, but the two will never meet

they meet in October

Story mentions that April could go either way, back to winter or ahead to spring

ends in autumn

double meaning of "fall"
moving toward darkness, cold, death

"The Jolly Corner"

James became expatriate in 1875, but returned to America for a brief visit in the 1880s

Spencer Brydon is like Rip Van Winkle

He returns to a world he left after a large amount of time has passed, and he must cope with the great changes

He wonders what he has lost in that time

Corner is meeting of two streets; and it is there that the two lives of Brydon come together

Ghost as alter ego of Brydon

It stayed behind in America and grew up in the home where Spencer grew up

It is hideous to Spencer because it looks much like him (after all, it has the same basic makeup), but is totally different; the suggestion is that one's environment can change a character drastically

Criticism (See “The Critical Muse” for citations)

Basics (from Roger Gard’s introduction to “The Critical Muse”)

“The critic, in his conception, was not the narrow lawgiver or the rigid censor that he is often assumed to be; he was the student, the inquirer, the interpreter, the taker of notes, the active, restless commentator, whose constant aim was to arrive at justness of characterisation.” (3)

critic should be open-minded (4)

James is “seminal force behind any discussion in English” of the novel (5)

James was restricted in his analysis of others by his preoccupation with his own artistic creation (8)

James’ approaches to various works often take on the same form: a gentle, open-minded beginning that turns into a demanding judgment: “It is a real exercise of the sympathetic imagination carefully and definitely discriminating” (10)

There is no conflict in James’ treatment of life and art: His position is “that art is important, literally vitally important, and worthy of the deepest love and respect for and infatuation with and delight in all its methods and intricacies and registers and strategies and tricks, precisely because, and when, it renders experience most strongly and finely” (11)

Other issues and features of James’ criticism

America’s first great critic of the novel

his criticism of the novel has international influence

James resists a prescriptive system of writing the novel

wide possibilities of the novel are what make it promising

promotes novel in a climate that favored poetry and feared novels as a corruptive influence

appreciates psychological realism

appreciates nuance and high style in literature, but rejects aestheticism

“On characterization and purple prose” (1865)

authors should animate their characters, rather than merely describe their exterior features, in order to engage readers (23)

authors should not over-describe characters; when they finger them too much, the reader wants to say, ‘Leave them alone!’ (24)

“The only lasting fictions are those which have spoken to the reader’s heart, and not to his eye” (25)

“to be real in writing is to express (“to convey”); whether by description or otherwise is of secondary importance” (25); but James does not say exactly what he means by “express,” unless he means creating an effect; see below

Balzac describes only what bears upon the action (26)

“Each separate part is conducive to the general effect;and this general effect has been studied, pondered, analysed: in the end it is produced” (26); here, James alludes to precisely the goal Poe proposes for the artist: achieving an effect

“Essays in Criticism, by Matthew Arnold” (1865)

Arnold has feeling; “It is hard to say whether the literary critic is more called upon to understand or to feel.  It is certain that he will accomplish little unless he can feel acutely; although it is perhaps equally certain that he will become weak the moment that he begins to ‘work’, as we may say, his natural sensibilities.” (36)

Critics may and should concern themselves with particulars; “Great truths take care of themselves; great truths are carried aloft by philosophers and poets; the critic deals in contributions to truth” (37)

Critics need not concern themselves with application; “Let criticism take the stream of truth at its source, and then practice can take it half-way down” (40)

literary work should be written “to” a topic, not from it (41); more echoes of Poe

“Walt Whitman’s Drum-Taps” (1865)

a great event does not a poem make (43)

“. . . the poet, although he incidentally masters, grasps, and uses the superficial traits of his theme, is really a poet only in so far as he extracts its latent meaning and holds it up to common eyes” (44)

finds fault in Whitman’s pride (44)

dislikes his form, which he likens to prose disguised as poetry (45)

the only excuse for original form is original thought (45-46)

James betrays an attraction to traditional form: “Our hearts are often touched through a compromise with the artistic sense, but never in direct violation of it” (46)

Americans are refined: “This democratic, liberty-loving, American populace, this stern and war-tried people, is a great civilizer.  It is devoted to refinement.  If it has sustained a monstrous war, and practised human nature’s best in so many ways for the last five years, it is not to put up with spurious poetry afterwards” (48)

artist must not look too much at himself: “You must forget yourself in your ideas” (48)

“History of English Literature, by Hippolyte Taine” (1872)

Taine does not comprehend English culture because he is only visiting it; he has not made a long, intense study of it (67)

Taine falters by oversimplifying; he makes bold, striking pronouncements; “This is productive of many effects splendid in themselves, but it is fatal to truth in so far as truth resides in fine shades and degrees” (69-70); the final statement about truth tells us something of James’ own style in writing fiction

“On the Critic and the Artist’s Intention” (1872): “. . . the impression of an intelligent observer has always an element of truth and value” (73)

“On Madam Bovary” (1876)

“We care only for what is--we know nothing about what ought to be.” (97)

“The great good fortune of Madame Bovary is that here the theory seems to have been invented after the fact.  The author began to describe because he had laid up a great fund of disinterested observations; he had been looking at things for years, for his own edification, in that particular way.” (98)

“M. Flaubert keeps well out of the provice of remedies; he simply relates his facts, in all their elaborate horror.” (100)

James admires the novel for its creation of a world; “The accumulation of detail is so immense, the vividness of portraiture of people, of things, of places, of times and hours, is so poignant and convincing, that one is dragged into the very current and tissue of the story; the reader seems to have lived in it all, more than in any novel I can recall.” (100)

“Hawthorne” (1879)

Hawthorne lived a provincial life (127)

“Hawthorne was on his limited scale a master of expression” (127)

“. . . the flower of art blooms only where the soil is deep, that it takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature, that it needs a complex social machinery to set a writer in motion.” (127)

H was not a realist (128)

“It is not too much to say that even to the present day it is a considerable discomfort in the United States not to be ‘in business.’ The young man who attempts to launch himself in a career that does not belong to theso-called practical order; the young man who has not, in a word, an office in the business-quarter of the town, with this name painted on the door, has but a limited place in the social system, finds no particular bough to perch upon” (129)

H was “an observer of small things” (131)

H’s notebooks are cold, impersonal, hollow (132)

the real charm of H’s writing is “purity and spontaneity and naturalness of fancy” (133)

H treated sin as an intellectural issue and was not haunted by it (133)

H relished gloomy subjects, but “What pleased him in such subjects was their picturesqueness . . .” (136)

criticizes allegory (138)

“The fine thing in H is that he cared for the deeper psychology, and that, in his way, he tried to become familiar with it” (140)

faults of “Scarlet Letter” lie in its lack of realism, stock characters, and a “superficial symbolism” that is at times mechanical (148, 150)

James likens “Scarlet Letter” to “a splendid piece of silversmith’s work” because it is so tinged with imaginative quality as to be bloodless (150)

James greatly admires H’s style, speaking of his “art of saying things well” (153)

“House of Seven Gables,” although expansive and suggestive, reads too much like a fragment (154)

“The Art of Fiction” (1884)

not long ago, the novel was naif, with no theory behind it (186-187)

The mechanics and theory of art should be discussed: “Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints . . .” (187)

“The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life” (188)

writers of fiction should not admit that they are only making believe; novelists are seeking truth (189)

people are apprehensive of literature, feeling that it threatens morality and instruction in an insidious way (190)

abundance of bad novels does not taint good novels (191)

point of this essay is to renounce the prescription of characteristics essential to a novel: “The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel . . . is that it be interesting.  That general responsibility rests upon it, but it is the only one I can think of” (191)

“A novel is in its braodest definition a personal, a direct impression of life: that, to begin with, constitutes its value, which is greater or less according to the intensity of the impression” (192)

“It goes without saying that you will not write a good novel unless you possess the sense of reality; but it will be difficult to give you a recipe for calling that sense into being” (194)

much of any work grows from the writer’s imagination; his or her experience may be that of the mind (194)

“the air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue of the novel” (195)

incidents, characters, and all other aspects of a novel are intertwined: “A novel is a living thing, all one and continuous, like any other organism, and in proportion as it lives will it be found, I think, that in each of its parts there is something of each of the other parts” (196)

“We must grant the artist his subject, his idea, his donnee: our criticism is applied only to what hemakes of it” (198)

“Nothing, of course, will ever take the place of the gold old fashion of ‘liking’ a work of art or not liking it: the most improved criticism will not abolish that primitive, that ultimate test” (198)

some readers prefer some ideas over others, and there is no such thing as a universal idea for all writers (199)

“. . . the province of all art is all life, all feeling, all observation, all vision” (200)

idea animates every part of a story, “so that every word and punctuation-point contribute directly to the expression” (201)

James values psychology as substance for a story (202)

In life, the artists finds the virus, the particle of suggestion

“The Science of Criticism” (1891)

reviewing has nothing to do with criticism (290)

reviews do little more than fill periodical space (291)

much of this material shows “the failure of distinction, the failure of style, the failure of knowledge, the failure of thought” (292)

poor reviewing inhibits literature (292)

critics, on the other hand, are valuable: “In this light one sees the critic as the real helper of the artist, a torch-bearing outrider, the interpreter, the brother” (293)

“The Future of the Novel” (1899)

Novel has grown immensely popular, partly because of the growth of readership among young boys and girls (336)

taste has deteriorated (336)

some readers do not care for the novel, while others feel it has not lived up to its possibilities (337)

readers like novels because they provide cheap way of obtaining experience (338)

the question is whether the English and American novels will be good enough to survive saturation and diminished interest (340)

a society must cultivate good literature, partly through good criticism (341)

“There are too many sources of interest neglected” by literature (343)

“Women and the Presentation of Sex in the Novel” (1901): “It is the ladies in a word who have lately done most to remind us of man’s relations with himself, that is with woman” (346)

“Emile Zola” (1903)

novel is a big enough form to allow a man to put all of himself into it (403)

Zola’s problem is that he lacks taste (415)

art feeds upon conventions (417)

“On the Reader and the Physical in Literature” (1904): “Giuliana for instance affects us, beyond any figure in fiction we are likely to remember, as living and breathing under our touch and before our eyes, as a creature of organs” (421)


begun around 1870, about the same time that he writes biography of Hawthorne


after complaining that Hawthorne’s notebooks are impersonal, showing nothing of the man, James expressed his presence in his own notebooks

conversation with himself: “There must be another woman in the case; a woman whom I am rather in love with--a woman clever, accomplished, independent, etc.  She can only be a widow--and that is rather conventional” (2-28-89)

used them to talk through plots, characters, and so on

Revelations of James’ attitude toward creativity

directs himself to write a novel as if he were writing a short story

“I have very interesting things to relate, but I must only thouch them individually.  A la Maupassant must be my constant motto.  I must depend on the collective effect” (2-2-89)

sees art and creative workplace as a place of escape from the harsh world (10-22-91)

speaks of suddenly seeing a work clearly when he faces it with determination; speaks of a “little click” that takes place when this happens (10-22-91)

“To live in the world of creation--to get into it and stay in it--to frequent it and haunt it--to think intently and fruitfully--to woo combinations and inspirations into being by a depth and continuity of creation and meditation--this is the only thing--and I neglect it, far and away too much; from indolence, from vagueness, from inattention, and from a strange nervous fear of letting myself go.  If I vanquish my nervousness, the world is mine” (10-23-91)

made a list of names, apparently for characters and places (11-12-92)

speaks of trying to “catch hold of the tail of an idea” (12-26-93 and elsewhere)

late entries suggest onset of apathy, world weariness (12-8-15)



“Henry James.”  The Oxford Companion to American Literature.  Sixth Edition.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Issues and themes

Canby, Henry Seidel.  Turn West, Turn East.  Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1951.

Edel, Leon.  “Introduction.”  The Portrait of a Lady.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956.  v-xx.

—.  Henry James: A Life.  New York: Harper and Row, 1985.

—.  “Foreword.”  The Henry James Reader.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965.

Gard, Roger.  “Introduction.”  The Critical Muse: Selected Literary Criticism.  New York: Penguin, 1987.  1-19.

Greene, Graham.  “The Portrait of a Lady.”  The Portrait of a Lady.  Norton Critical Edition.  Ed. Robert D. Bamberg.  New York: W.W. Norton, 1975.  667-671.

James, Henry.  Preface to New York Edition of Portrait of a Lady.  The Portrait of a Lady.  Norton Critical Edition.  Ed. Robert D. Bamberg.  New York: W.W. Norton, 1975.  3-15.

Pattee, Fred Lewis. The Development of the American Short Story. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1923.

Mood disorder

Jamison, Kay Redfield.  Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.  New York: The Free Press, 1993.


James, Henry.  The Ambassadors. 

—.  “The Beast in the Jungle.”  The American Tradition in Literature.  Ed. George Perkins, et al.  Vol. 2.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.  541-570.

—.  The Critical Muse: Selected Literary Criticism.  New York: Penguin, 1987. 

—.  Daisy Miller.  Henry James: Selected Works.  New York: Gramercy, 1994.  1-46.

—.  “The Figure in the Carpet.”

—.  “The Jolly Corner.”  The American Tradition in Literature.  Ed. George Perkins, et al.  Vol. 2.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.  570-592.

—.  “The Madonna of the Future.”

—.  The Portrait of a Lady.  Henry James: Selected Works.  New York: Gramercy, 1994.  47-495.

—.  “The Real Thing.”  The American Tradition in Literature.  Ed. George Perkins, et al.  Vol. 2.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.  456-473.

—.  “The Turn of the Screw.”  The American Tradition in Literature.  Ed. George Perkins, et al.  Vol. 2.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.  473-541.