The Portrait of a Lady

Topics: Henry James, New York Edition, The Portrait of a Lady Pages: 4 (1449 words) Published: May 6, 2013
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Apparently the fiction of Henry James appears to be about people at the center of high society. On closer examination, many of James’s characters struggle to enter high society from less fortunate backgrounds. A repeated theme in Henry James’s fiction is the culture clash between Americans and Europeans. As an American who spent most of his life in Europe, he was well-placed to see the contrasts between these two cultures. For example, his novels Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady are based on this central idea. In both novels, the protagonist brings fresh American ideas in Europe. These are contrasted not only with the ideas of the Europeans, but also with those of Americans who lived in Europe for a long time. Henry James, Jr., was born in New York City on April 15, 1843, the son of Henry James and Mary Robertson Walsh. James was raised in a home where money was not a concern. His family was successful and cultured. They often travelled in Europe and lived there long periods of time while henry was growing up. Henry James was educated by private tutors until he was twelve and was sent to study in Boulogne, Paris, Geneva, and Bonn. He entered in Harvard Law School, but a year later he left Harvard and started to think about a career in writing. He began writing reviews and critical essays which were published in The Atlantic Monthly, a prestigious American literary magazine. This magazine published his first novel Watch and Ward in 1871. Four years later, he spent a year in Paris in the company of Zola, Flaubert and Turgenev. Then, he went to London and published his second novel Roderick Hudson(1875). After this, a number of novels followed: The American(1877), The Europeans(1878), Daisy Miller(1878), Washington Square(1881), The Portrait of a Lady(1881), The Bostonians(1886), The Turn of the Screw(1898), The Wings of the Dove(1902), The Ambassadors(1903) and The Golden Bowl(1904). In 1915 James became a British...

References: Crumbley, Paul. Student’s Encyclopedia of Great American Writers, Volume II: 1830 to 1900. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010.
Edel, Leon. Henry James: A Life. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
James, Henry.The Portrait of a Lady. New York: Signet Classic,1979.
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