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

By Leon Edel | Go to book overview

THE FRAIL VESSELS

THE change which occurred--and which led Henry to write certain of his masterpieces--had been quietly symbolized by the fact that the "Angel" was Angela in Confidence. From this moment Henry began to write novels about heroines instead of about heroes. Hitherto, in his larger works, he had recorded the adventures of the Rowland-Rodericks, or the Christopher Newmans; and even when he seemed to be studying American flirts abroad, like Daisy, it was through masculine eyes, such as Winterbourne's. Now, however, he found it necessary to create --and to show--how American women, "heiresses of all the ages," responded to their destinies in a world that jilted, denied, betrayed--that made them, for all their fine will to freedom and independence, into second-class citizens in the very society that bestowed their heritage upon them. There were, to be sure, certain later exceptions: as with Hyacinth Robinson in The Princess Casamassima or Lambert Strether in The Ambassadors; but from now on the female protagonist took over the Jamesian scene, and she was to range from the juvenile Maisie, through the adolescent Nanda, to the mature Milly and Maggie of the later novels, not to speak of the Miriam Rooths, Fleda Vetches, Rose Armigers and Isabel Archers of other works along the way.

In a sense, what this may be said to have reflected was Henry's deepest personal feelings during this time. Henry James, conquering London and its literary world, could be as assertive and as powerful as Christopher Newman; but, rejected like Newman --or pushed to the wall by his elder brother--told that he wasn't fit to play with rough boys, or that his writing was full of knots and bows and ribbons, found himself reminded forcibly that he was a perpetual "mere junior," that he seemed to have been doomed from the cradle to abasements and inferiorities. One has but to mention the titles of his succeeding works to

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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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