Henry James, a Life

Leon Edel, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24.95 (740p) ISBN 978-0-06-015459-2
More than a deft abridgment of Edel's classic, prize-winning five-volume James biography, this is an updated, partially rewritten version of it. Inclusive of new source material and without some of the ""reticences'' regarding James's passional life, it is essentially a new book. Into the outer story of James's lifethe early American years; the ``passionate pilgrimages'' to France and Italy; the friendships with many of Europe's preeminent writers, Flaubert, Zola, Turgenev, R. L. Stevenson, Kipling, Conrad and H. G. Wells among them; the disastrous failure in the theater; and the horror of World War IEdel weaves with perfect literary tact the inner story, that of the developing mind of a writer he calls the first of the psychological novelists and America's ``one fully achieved literary artist,'' together with sensitive analyses of the novels. We see this most active contemplative, most subtle observer of human emotion, most dedicated pursuer of his craft in his imaginative workshop; and Edel indeed catches, to quote one of his innumerable telling phrases, something of ``the radiance of his powerful artistry.'' Illustrations. November 13
Reviewed on: 10/01/1985
Release date: 10/01/1985
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