Henry James: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
An elegant introduction to one of America's most complex and influential writers.
From his childhood in a family of leading American intellectuals through his mature life as a major American man of letters, Henry James (1843-1916) created a unique body of fiction that represents one of the greatest achievements in the nation's literary history. James's transnational life in the US and England and his extraordinary siblings (the philosopher William James and diarist Alice James) made his life as complicated as the fictions he produced. In this elegant introduction to the work of Henry James, Susan L. Mizruchi places the notoriously difficult and obscure writings in their historical and biographical context.
As James grew in confidence as a writer, his fictions evolved accordingly. These complex accounts of human experience engage with the vital issues of both James's era and our own. Among the works treated in this introduction are Washington Square, The Europeans, Daisy Miller, The Portrait of a Lady, The Golden Bowl, and The Turn of the Screw. Through his novels, as well as his journalistic and critical endeavors, James explores themes related to gender relations, human sexuality, the nature of modernity, the threat of relativism, the rise of mass culture, and the role of art.
Since their creation, James's writings have been a consistent subject of both literary theory and popular culture, receiving a diverse array of theoretical treatments, from formalism, deconstruction, phenomenology, and pragmatism to Marxism, new historicism, and gender and queer theory. James's novels have been adapted into numerous films by directors including William Wyler, Peter Bogdanovich, Michael Winner, Merchant/Ivory, and Jane Campion. The impact of Henry James cannot be overstated.