The Early Tales of Henry James

The Early Tales of Henry James

The Early Tales of Henry James

The Early Tales of Henry James

Excerpt

There are one hundred and twelve tales by Henry James, varying in length from a few thousand words to over forty thousand. The first appeared in February, 1864, when James was twenty; the last in April-May, 1910, when he was within six years of his death at the age of seventytwo. Tales were written in all periods of his life and represent all styles of his art. They were usually first published in magazines; some were rewritten and republished in volumes of tales; fifty-five were rewritten for the 1907-09 New York Edition of James's works that he selected and edited; forty more appeared in the novels and stories edited by Percy Lubbock in 1921-23. The entire collection of tales was made available for the first time in The Complete Tales of Henry James that began to appear in 1962.

Almost half the volumes of the New York Edition are devoted to the tales, and nine Prefaces, half the total James wrote, discuss his short fiction. These Prefaces reveal the extreme pleasure he took in this fiction and the conscious artistry he gave to its composition. He called his interest "great" and "from far back" in the "whole 'question of the short story,'" and makes clear he is as much a writer of tales as of novels.

The tale is for James usually defined as a picture or an anecdote. He uses the generic terms "tale" and "short . . .

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