Henry James: A Very Short Introduction

Susan L. Mizruchi. Oxford Univ, $11.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-0-19-094438-4
Mizruchi (Brando’s Smile), a professor of English literature at Boston University, offers a succinct but thorough study of Henry James, “the most rarefied English-language author.” In five chapters, she covers James’s family roots and his career as a book reviewer, and closely identifies the “James brand” as a cosmopolitan sensibility that focused on Americans who traveled abroad to discover the world and themselves. Mizruchi offers balanced readings of James’s major texts: the satirical 1886 novel The Bostonians, for example, “explores lesbianism with an incomparable depth for the time,” while 1898’s The Turn of the Screw is a horror novella about “living by the dead.” She deems The Portrait of a Lady a prime example of James’s writing style, homing in on his description of afternoon tea as a self-conscious description of class distinction, and brings things up to the present with a solid case for his relevance in the 21st century thanks to his influence on such writers as Alan Hollinghurst, Emma Tennant, and Colm Tóibín. Mizruchi convincingly identifies James as a writer who can “take risks, embrace compromise, make choices, and suffer on behalf of his art.” This is a swift, efficient approach to James’s oeuvre, perfect for students and general readers. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/01/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Digital Format - 978-0-19-094441-4
Ebook - 160 pages - 978-0-19-094439-1
Ebook - 160 pages - 978-0-19-094440-7
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