Henry James: the Treacherous Years

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Treacherous Years (1895 – 1901), Vol. 4. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1969.

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

The “treacherous” years, as Edel calls them cover 1895 to 1901. In the beginning of this installment Edel pays special attention to James’s playwright period. My favorite piece of history from this time is of H.G. Wells as a theater critic. I had no idea. Because of James’s limited success in the theater his plays are all but forgotten when one thinks of the works of Henry James, which is a pity since he cared about them a great deal. The failure stays with him for a long time and is referred to often. It is also during this time that James writes the well-known piece, “Turn of the Screw” and he settles down enough to buy Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, England. First, as a long-term rental agreement and then as an outright purchase (the biggest of his life). He ends up spending nearly twenty years in this house; a sure sign the bachelor is finally starting to slow down. During this time he surrounds himself with youth, preferably talented, sensitive young men.

Favorite confessional line, “Memory has a way of telescoping fact, and Sir Edmund’s reminiscences must be retouched by documentary evidence” (p 84).

Favorite fact about James: Dictating James and writing James were two different artists using two different voices. I find that really interesting.

Book trivia: Edel goes back in time and recounts details previously outlined in the Middle Years. While researching the Treacherous Years he found new details about the previous portion of James’s life.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Literary Lives: the Americans” (p 144). I have to ask. Can someone who has spent nearly his entire adult life residing in Europe really truly call himself an American?

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.