Henry James: The Imagination of Genius, A Biography

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9780801862717: Henry James: The Imagination of Genius, A Biography

One of the most influential novelists, Henry James led a life that was as rich as his writing. Born into an eccentric and difficult family, he left the United States for Europe, where he quickly became a fixture of the expatriate writing community. Fred Kaplan recreates the world of Henry James: his friendships with Edith Wharton and Joseph Conrad, his love of all things exquisite―including exquisite writing―and his quest for understanding human nature. As James himself advocated and would have wanted, this is an artful, dramatic biography, placing the chronological narrative of James's life in the historical context of his times.

"The twenty-one-year-old Henry James, Jr., preferred to be a writer rather than a soldier. His motives for writing were clear to himself, and they were not unusual: he desired fame and fortune. Whatever additional enriching complications that were to make him notorious for the complexity of his style and thought, the initial motivation remained constant. Deeply stubborn and persistently willful, he wanted praise and money, the rewards of recognition of what he believed to be his genius, on terms that he himself wanted to establish. The one battle he thought most worth fighting was that of the imagination for artistic expression. The one empire he most coveted, the land that he wanted for his primary home, was the empire of art."―from Henry James: The Imagination of Genius

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About the Author:

Fred Kaplan is the author of Miracles of Rare Devices; Dickens and Mesmerism; Thomas Carlyle, A Biography (nominated for the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); Sacred Tears; Gore Vidal: A Biography; and Dickens: A Biography, the last available in paperback from Johns Hopkins.

From Library Journal:

Biographer Kaplan ( Dickens: A Biography , LJ 9/1/88; Thomas Carlyle: A Biography , LJ 11/15/83) brings us a lucid and vibrant account of the novelist's creative imagination as well as his renowned personal life. Concentrating on the genesis and inspiration for James's creative output, Kaplan for the most part avoids strict literary criticism that would slow down the fast-moving pace of the biography. He relies almost exclusively on the letters and diaries of James and his associates to convey both James's spirit and the background for his work. Though not as all-encompassing as Leon Edel's five-volume opus ( Henry James , 1953-72), this volume is a highly recommended alternative to the one-volume condensation, Henry James: A Life ( LJ 10/15/85) and a good companion to the biographical study of the James family by R.W.B. Lewis ( The Jameses: A Family Narrative, LJ 8/1/91). See The Correspondence of William James . Vol . 1: William and Henry, 1861-1884 reviewed above.--Ed.-- Martin R. Kalfatovic, Natl. Museum of American Art/Natl. Portrait Gallery Lib., Smithsonian Inst., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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