Henry James: the Master

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Master (1901 – 1916), Vol. 5 Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1972.

Reason read: to continue (and finish) the series started in April in honor of the birth month of Henry James. Yes, this should have been finished in August. We won’t dwell on how long it took me to finish this series!

So, let’s recap. We started Volume One of the Henry James biography examining his childhood. Subsequent volumes traced his move to Europe and followed his social life as a freewheeling bachelor. By Volume Four James was settling down with the purchase of Lamb House in Rye, England. Throughout every volume we were able to chart James’s progress as a writer, a poet and even playwright but in Volume Five he is dubbed “the master” by his peers. By Volume Five we see James slowing down, becoming more domestic and worrying about his Lamb House gardens. Imagine! He has never had gardens of his own before. Even though James might be slowing down, the emphasis is still on his ambition. He wanted to be influential. He wanted to be remembered and admired. He took great pride to cultivate his craft.

Confessional: all the while I kept asking myself how James could call himself a true American when he was away from his homeland so much of the time and especially after he put down solid roots in London and Rye, England. It just goes to show you how complicated citizenship can be.

Author fact: It took Edel nearly 21 years to write the James biography. Talk about a labor of love!

Book trivia: like the other four volumes of Henry James Volume Five has interesting photographs.

Nancy said: nothing at all.

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

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