Biographical Essays Henry James

James is one of the major figures of trans-Atlantic literature, which is to say that his works frequently juxtapose characters from different worlds—the Old World (Europe), simultaneously artistic, corrupting, and alluring; and the New World (United States), where people are often brash, open, and assertive—and explore how this clash of personalities and cultures affects the two worlds.

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He settled first in a London apartment and then, from 1897 on, in Lamb House, a historic residence in Rye, East Sussex.

He revisited America on several occasions, most notably in 1904-1905.

James enjoyed socializing with his many friends and acquaintances, but he seems to have maintained a certain distance from other people.

After a brief attempt to live in Paris, James moved permanently to England in 1876.

His earlier work is considered realist because of the carefully described details of his characters' physical surroundings.

But, throughout his long career, James maintained a strong interest in a variety of artistic effects and movements.He studied with tutors in Geneva, London, Paris and Bonn.At the age of 19 he briefly and unsuccessfully attended Harvard University Law School, but he much preferred reading and writing fiction to studying law.The prose of James’s later works is frequently marked by long, digressive sentences that defer the verb and include many qualifying adverbs, prepositional phrases, and subordinate clauses.James seemed to change from a fairly straightforward style in his earlier writing to a more elaborate manner in his later works.James never married, and it is an unresolved (and perhaps unresolvable) question as to whether he ever experienced a relationship.Many of his letters are filled with expressions of affection, but it is never been shown conclusively that any of these expressions were acted out.His work gradually became more metaphorical and symbolic as he entered more deeply into the minds of his characters.In its intense focus on the consciousness of his major characters, James’s later work foreshadows extensive developments in twentieth century fiction.In the late twentieth century, many of James’s novels were filmed by the team of Ismail Merchant & James Ivory, and this period saw a small resurgence of interest in his works.Among the best known of these are the short works Daisy Miller, Washington Square and The Turn of the Screw, and the novels The Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl, The Ambassadors and The American.


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