With an Introduction and Notes by Lionel Kelly, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Reading. Transplanted to Europe from her native America, Isabel Archer has candour, beauty, intelligence, an independent spirit and a marked enthusiasm for life. An unexpected inheritance apparently gives her freedom, but despite all her natural advantages she makes one disastrous error of judgement and the result is genuinely tragic. Her tale, told with James' inimitable poise, is of the widest relevance. 'The phase when his (Henry James') genius functioned with the freest and fullest vitality is represented by The Portrait of a Lady'. (F.R. LEAVIS)
The Portrait of a Lady is a novel by Henry James, first published as a book in 1881. It is one of James's most popular long novels, and is regarded by critics as one of his finest. Henry James (1843–1916) was an Anglo-American writer who spent the bulk of his career in Britain. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James. Story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, a beautiful, intelligent, and headstrong American girl newly endowed with wealth and embarked in Europe on a treacherous journey to self-knowledge, is delineated with a magnificence that is at once casual and tense with force and insight. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. Like many of James's novels, it is set in Europe, mostly England and Italy. Regarded as a masterpiece, this novel reflects James's continuing interest in the differences between the New World and the Old, often to the detriment of the former. It also treats in a profound way the themes of personal freedom, responsibility, and betrayal. Adapted for the screen in 1968 and 1996 with Nicole Kidman.
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The Portrait of a Lady is arguably Henry James' most appealing and accessible novel. The introduction to this volume of specially written essays situates the novel in its cultural and historical context and discusses the important revisions that James later made to the text. The essays that follow address the novel's place in the tradition of modern narrative, its relation to popular women's fiction on the question of marriage, the influence of Henry James' brother William, and the character of the heroine seen from a psychoanalytic point of view.
The Portrait of a Lady is a novel about a privileged Victorian woman, Isabel Archer, and how her life evolves due to the choices she makes. Isabel is from a genteel family of Albany, New York who comes of age in the late 1860s. Independent and educated for her time, she had been raised by her father after the early death of her mother. Isabel is very bright and intimidates the young men around her; she has one serious suitor, Caspar Goodwood, a man with very good prospects, whom she spurns.
PREFACE "The Portrait of a Lady" was, like "Roderick Hudson," begun in Florence, during three months spent there in the spring of 1879. Like "Roderick" and like "The American," it had been designed for publication in "The Atlantic Monthly," where it began to appear in 1880. It differed from its two predecessors, however, in finding a course also open to it, from month to month, in "Macmillan's Magazine"; which was to be for me one of the last occasions of simultaneous "serialisation" in the two countries that the changing conditions of literary intercourse between England and the United States had up to then left unaltered. It is a long novel, and I was long in writing it; I remember being again much occupied with it, the following year, during a stay of several weeks made in Venice. I had rooms on Riva Schiavoni, at the top of a house near the passage leading off to San Zaccaria; the waterside life, the wondrous lagoon spread before me, and the ceaseless human chatter of Venice came in at my windows, to which I seem to myself to have been constantly driven, in the fruitless fidget of composition, as if to see whether, out in the blue channel, the ship of some right suggestion, of some better phrase, of the next happy twist of my subject, the next true touch for my canvas, mightn't come into sight. But I recall vividly enough that the response most elicited, in general, to these restless appeals was the rather grim admonition that romantic and historic sites, such as the land of Italy abounds in, offer the artist a questionable aid to concentration when they themselves are not to be the subject of it. They are too rich in their own life and too charged with their own meanings merely to help him out with a lame phrase; they draw him away from his small question to their own greater ones; so that, after a little, he feels, while thus yearning toward them in his difficulty, as if he were asking an army of glorious veterans to help him to arrest a peddler who has given him the wrong change.
Henry James (1843–1916) was an American author regarded as a key transitional fi gure between literary realism and literary modernism. «The Portrait of a Lady» is the awesome story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. This novel refl ects James’s continuing interest in the differences between the New World and the Old, often to the detriment of the former.
The author of over twenty novels, twelve plays, and one hundred and twelve short stories, Henry James (1843-1916) is the acknowledged "Father of the Psychological Novel." With his seminal masterpiece, The Portrait of A Lady (1881), he ushered in the birth of what was to be the emergence of psychological fiction. Although a steady progression of other great novels and works would follow this one, it is this work, therefore, that will be the focus of the present study.