henry james


Henry James was born in 1843 and died on 28th February 1916. He was the son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and of the diarist Alice James. In his youth, James travelled with his family back and forth between Europe and America. He studied with tutors in Geneva, London, Paris, and Bonn. At the age of 19, he briefly and unsuccessfully attended Harvard Law School. From an early age James read, criticized, and learned from the classics of English, American, French, Italian, German and (in translation) Russian literature. Throughout his career, he extensively contributed to magazines such as The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and Scribner’s. James never married, but he carried on many strong relationships as testified by his many letters filled with expressions of affection towards men and women. After a brief attempt to live in Paris, James moved permanently to England in 1876.

James revisited America on several occasions, most notably in 1904–05. The outbreak of World War I was a profound shock for James, and in 1915, he became a British citizen to declare his loyalty to his adopted country as well as to protest America’s refusal to enter the war on behalf of Britain. James suffered a stroke in London on December 2, 1915 and died three months later

James’s novels are particular for his imaginative use of the point of view, of interior monologue and unreliable narrators made narrative fiction more interesting and psychologically deeper.

He mainly dealt with the clash between the Old World (Europe), artistic, tolerant, fascinating but corrupting and the New World (United States), with its Puritan mentality, often aggressive, but firm and innocent. Among the most known titles are: Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Daisy Miller (1878), The Bostonians (1886), The Golden Bowl (1904) and The Turn of the Screw (1898).

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