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Even among the ranks of novelists, the personality of Henry James seems peculiarly enigmatic and complex. In this vivid compilation, first published in l947, and containing material not available elsewhere, contemporaries record their first-hand impressions of a man and artist who brought fiction to a new peak of seriousness and sensitivity. But the James their collective impressions portray is far from a one-dimensional patriarch -- the "master" of whom a "legend" was created. Rather, he is seen as a man of unfailing compassion and intelligence who was nevertheless capable of sly malice; a dandy who somehow managed to retain the warm democratic manners of his native America. However, the final portrait of James which emerges from Nowell-Smith's engrossing work is something of a paradox -- we see a man who, despite the strong impression he made on nearly everyone he met, remained locked in the solitude and frustration out of which his greatest writing was born.
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