Henry James: the Conquest of London

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Conquest of London (1870 – 1881), Vol II. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1962.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April in honor of Henry James’s birth month.

At the end of Henry James: the Untried Years the year was 1870 and James had just returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts after his first major jaunt through Europe. His beloved cousin, Minnie Temple, had succumbed to a very long illness and James was finding his way as a successful writer. Now, in Henry James: the Conquest of London James is broadening his horizons with another trip to Europe. Volume One outlined James’s personality and temperament and the seedling of his career as a writer whereas Volume Two waters that seedling and produces the blossoming of a true novelist. The parallels between Henry’s characters and that of his own grow. It is life feeding art. The art that begins to blossom is the ever-famous Portrait of a Lady.

As an aside, James’s story Watch and Ward reminded me of the poem “If No One Ever Marries Me” by Laurence Alma-Tadema. Both narrators say if they are unlucky in love they will adopt/buy a little orphan girl to bring up.

Quotes I liked, “He thrived more on people than upon scenery” (p 88),

Author fact: Edel read some 7,000 letters to and from Henry James in order to write the series.

Book trivia: Like Vol. I there are eight photographs in Conquest of London.

Nancy said: Nancy said if you want to learn about the life of Henry James you can’t do better than Leon Edel’s “magnificent”  five volumes (p 144).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Literary Lives: the Americans” (p 144).



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