Henry James: The Conquest of London, 1870-1883 - Vol. 2

By Leon Edel | Go to book overview

WILLIAM

IN Cambridge William James was settling into his career, slowly, and with great difficulty. He was often ill and despondent. And he still lived at home. He had had his period abroad, earlier, before taking his medical degree. Unlike his younger brother, he had found little in Europe to please him save German psychology and German Gemütlichkeit. On his return to Cambridge he had relapsed into its quiet life, with a sense of dreary inertia. If there was a pronounced difference in temperament between the two gifted brothers, it stemmed, in part at least, from the marked difference in their relation to the family group. William, first upon the scene, had learned to take the world in his own large stride: he was quick, active, impulsive, nimble of mind, warming to experience. His brother, who had to include William among his elders, had learned in childhood to assert himself from behind a mask of deceptive serenity. Submerged and silent, Henry could find his freedom from family pressures and rivalries only by devious means; and there was always, later, escape to his writing-desk. William was much more vulnerable. He possessed no defensive weapons, save the brilliant counter-attack of wit. Between the son who was active and rebellious, and the son who was peaceful and submissive, Mary James did not remain neutral. She showed a decided preference for the quiet one--he caused her so much less trouble. She also, unfortunately, showed a certain cold disapproval-crushing in its effect--toward her firstborn.

The record of William's early years is a series of sallies into achievement--and a series of retreats from each sally. The more daring he was, the more crushing seemed each subsequent "defeat." Every positive accomplishment gave him a feeling of increasing powerlessness. Success could not alter the sense of inadequacy engendered by maternal coldness and a paternal

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Henry James: The Conquest of London, 1870-1883 - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations x
  • Introduction xi
  • Book One a Season in Cambridge 1870-1872 xv
  • The Precious Wound 17
  • The Exquisite Provincials 25
  • The Dispossessed 32
  • The Great American Novel 40
  • Alice 44
  • The Art of Seeing 51
  • Escape 57
  • Book Two Transatlantic Sketches 1872 61
  • Brother and Nephew 63
  • The Sentimental Tourist 69
  • A Parisian Autumn 75
  • Book Three Roman Hours 1873 81
  • A Roman Winter 83
  • The Two Palaces 91
  • Roman Rides 99
  • Six Women 108
  • A Study in Mauve 115
  • The Monocle 124
  • A Roman Spring 127
  • Book Four the Choice 1873-1875 135
  • William 137
  • Angel and Brother 146
  • The Fork in the Path 157
  • The Palpable Present 163
  • Roderick Hudson 176
  • A New York Winter 182
  • Benvolio 191
  • Book Five the Siege of Paris 1875-1876 201
  • Ivan Sergeyevich 203
  • The Lesson of the Master 209
  • Councils of the Gods 215
  • Pastel 223
  • Parisian Life 228
  • Silk Purse and Sow's Ear 238
  • The American 246
  • In the Provinces 261
  • A Channel Crossing 268
  • Book Six the Conquest of London 1876-1878 271
  • The Observant Stranger 273
  • London Clubs 284
  • The Bird of Paradox 287
  • A Little Journey 290
  • Daisy 303
  • The Two Secretaries 320
  • A Position in Society 328
  • Book Seven a Reasonable Show of Fame 1878-1879 341
  • The Objective Genius 343
  • The Bachelor of Bolton Street 347
  • Three Old Women 352
  • Visits 361
  • A Dinner at the Reform 367
  • Carthorse and Racer 370
  • The Bard and Mr Browning 374
  • Voltaire in Petticoats 377
  • C' Est Mon Plaisir... 381
  • Book Eight Portrait of a Lady 1879-1881 385
  • Provincial Storm 387
  • The Frail Vessels 395
  • Fathers and Daughters 401
  • A Neapolitan Episode 408
  • Fenimore 411
  • A Band of Egotists 421
  • Venice 437
  • Book Nine Terminations 1881-1883 449
  • Homecoming 451
  • The Dome and the Shaft 458
  • Mary James 465
  • An Exquisite Stillness 467
  • A Little Tour in France 475
  • November Parting 486
  • A Winter Summons 488
  • Son and Brother 494
  • Notes and Acknowledgments 511
  • Index 521
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