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Floyd R. Horowitz, Editor THE UNCOLLECTED HENRY JAMES: Newly Discovered Stories

After subjecting thousands of anonymous stories from mid–19th-century publications to elaborate scrutiny, former English professor Horowitz has selected 25 tales for inclusion in this volume of purported early fiction by Henry James. Horowitz's methods involve close reading and computer analysis, which he claims permit him to detect patterns of word use, as well as references to certain sources from James's father's library, particularly the mystical religious thinker Emanuel Swedenborg. The earliest of the stories, an exotic morality tale titled "The Glass Slipper," dates from 1852, when James was 10 years old (Horowitz argues that such precocious publication was not uncommon at the time); the rest mostly span the decade between 1858 and 1868. On the surface, at least, a number of the stories are reminiscent of James in their deliberate take on matters of the heart, but most are also clearly shaped by the conventions of the day and are mired in a sentimentalism far from James's characteristic detachment. "A Cure for Coquettes" describes the transformation of the belle of an Indiana frontier family after a soldier rescues her from a pack of wild wolves; in "Breach of Promise of Marriage," another coquette gets a taste of her own medicine when she goes to visit friends in the country. Several Civil War stories are included, with the most fully realized being "My Lost Darling," which describes a woman's agonizing effort to track down her wounded brother in a military hospital. There is little chance Horowitz's claims will ever be corroborated, but he clearly knows and loves James's work, and readers willing to approach the volume in the spirit of a clever parlor game will enjoy matching wits with its editor. (Mar.)

Forecast: Readers misled by the title and subtitle of Horowitz's collection may be disappointed to discover that the stories are not confirmed new additions to the James oeuvre.

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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