Literary Reviews and Essays: On American, English, and French Literature

Literary Reviews and Essays: On American, English, and French Literature

Literary Reviews and Essays: On American, English, and French Literature

Literary Reviews and Essays: On American, English, and French Literature

Excerpt

The present volume of literary essays and book reviews by Henry James comprises more than sixty items, hitherto never collected before, either by the author himself or anyone else, and covers the first twenty years of his literary life. They set forth the critical principles he then entertained and by which he was guided when he wrote the series of tales and novels between The Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales and The Portrait of a Lady. He soon wrote his celebrated essay "The Art of Fiction" and began his so-called middle period with the publication of The Bostonians. The first period was closed with the issue of a uniform edition of his fiction in twelve volumes. By these essays we are offered a tangible means of evaluating this fiction. They are of importance, however, in themselves as setting forth his philosophy of literary criticism in this period. They relate to the time when he was under some influences exercised by novelists like Hawthorne, Turgenev, George Sand, and George Eliot, and by critics such as Edmond Schérer, Matthew Arnold, and Sainte-Beuve.

The plan of this collection has been to have two sections, one devoted to James's articles on French literature, and the other to American and English. If the first section includes the French translation of Virgin Soil, it is because Turgenev supervised the translation. If the second section includes Carlyle's translation of Wilhelm Meister, it is because that work has been virtually naturalized in English literature. Herein are included all those other articles on books and authors upon which James had already written or subsequently wrote, which had been collected by himself or by others. He wrote more than once on some authors, on Sainte-Beuve, Schérer, George Sand, Hugo, Flaubert, Edmond de Goncourt, Mérimée, Daudet, Turgenev, Howells, Parkman, Louisa M. Alcott, George Eliot, and Matthew Arnold . . .

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