HENRY JAMES: Vol. II & III: The Conquest of London & The Middle Years by Leon Edel

HENRY JAMES: Vol. II & III: The Conquest of London & The Middle Years

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The brilliant beginning- nine years ago- of this monumental biography of Henry James has been amply fulfilled in this splendid continuation. Here Edel, the outstanding authority on Henry James, has gathered much new material, including hitherto unpublished letters; he has collated, conformed and compared them with the James' notebooks, unfinished autobiography and the letters of numerous correspondents. The result is virtually a weekly record of James' life in the middle years- 1870-1895. He has even discovered a thread of a previously unnoticed, unfulfilled romance, on which he strings his story. A skillful search of novels, tales, travelogues and critical pieces has been rewarded by clues to the inner life of James, all done with judgment, taste and keen psychological insight. In Vol. II we see James as a young man in his thirties, gay, witty, worldly, avid for life, a lovable, golden personality, moving among the great and near great in Rome, Paris, London. These were the days of his early delightful novels, products of the Roman experience, of contrasting European mores and scenes against American. And in these years he met Constance Fenimore Woolson, unmarried, American and an aspiring novelist and there began a friendship, secret but decorous, which came to its conclusion when Miss Woolson, wanting more than he could give, ended her life with suicide. Volume III concerns itself largely with this period and enhances the meaning of some of the fascinating and unexpected element of drama in the writings of these years. Sorrows came into his personal life, culminating in the death of ""Fenimore"", as he called her. The final volume will deal with the final years, when James found himself ""in a dark wood, where all was gloom and impenetrable mystery"". As the biography stands on the first three volumes, rich in living detail and critical acumen, the whole promises to be perhaps the outstanding contribution to literary biography of this century. Recommended to anyone interested in reading scholarly, sensitive, perceptive biography.

Publisher: Lippincott