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Henry James. Roderick Hudson. The World's Classics. Introduction by Tony Tanner. Oxford Univ. Press, 1980. liii + 389 pp. pb $4.95. Henry James. The Portrait of a Lady. The World's Classics. Introduction by Graham Greene. Oxford Univ. Press, 1947. Pb reissue 1981, with Note on the Text by Nicola Bradbury and Chronology by Leon Edel, xli + 645 pp. $4.95. Henry James. What Maisie Knew. The World's Classics. Introduction and Notes by Douglas Jefferson. Oxford Univ. Press, 1966. Pb reissue 1980, edited by Douglas Jefferson and Douglas Grant, [xxxi] + 272 pp. $2.95. These three reprints of significant novels by Henry James are part of Oxford's grand series caUed The World's Classics. The three books are handsome paperbacks with the smooth, floppy feel of limp leather . Each has an attractive cover illustration . Roderick Hudson offers an IppoUto Caff i Roman "Monte Pincio" scene. The Portrait of a Lady cover reproduces James Lavery's "The Lady in White," who perhaps resembles pert Isabel Archer; and What Maisie Knew cleverly features that part of Georges Seurat's "La Grande Jatte" which shows a child dancing between two couples, and more adults in the offing. Each book reprints the New York Edition text and includes James's appropriate Prefaces. And each has an introduction by a distinguished authority. Tony Tanner's introduction to Roderick Hudson is both the longest (it is too long) and the best. Graham Greene's introduction to The Portrait of a Lady, first pubUshed in 1947, is the shortest, least academic, and most subjective. Douglas Jefferson's introduction to What Maisie Knew falls in between, is somewhat bland, and, going back to 1966, is also outdated in part. As for bibliographical apparatusTanner provides none. After Greene's introduction , Nicola Bradbury offers a short note discussing James's revisions for the 1907 New York Edition text, revisions both stylistic and thematic that permit quicker pace, racier irony, a heightened "chiaroscuro of manipulation and betrayal" (xvi), a more cartooned Henrietta Stackpole, a stronger feeling between Isabel and Ralph Touchett, and Isabel's greater "attraction and repulsion—not hesitation" (xviii)—in her final scene with Caspar Goodwood. Bradbury also includes a forty-item bibUography that is both balanced and sensible. Added also is a chronology prepared by Leon Edel. After the introduction by Jefferson, he and his co-editor Douglas Grant in a brief note discuss, a bit dogmatically, the still-unsettled consequences of James's abridgment of the serialized novel for later serial publication, then later revisions for editions in book form, including the New York Edition. Of revisions for this last, the editors say that "very few embody significant modifications of meaning" (xxx). Next comes "A Short Guide to Further Reading," which is too short to be of much help and which is nearly all British to boot. At the end of the main text, some three pages in paraUel columns give samples of changes both "striking . . . and . . . less important" (269) between first English book edition and New York Edition. In his richly insightful introduction to The Portrait of a Lady, Tony Tanner takes his sweet time setting the stage for the appearance of James's first real novel. Tanner suggests that it grew out of both James's awareness of cultural barrenness in post-Civil War America and his fear that Europe by contrast offered an over-stimulating initiatory banquet for the starved Yankee artist. Another bipolar inspiration for James was The Marble Faun of Nathaniel Hawthorne, with its expatriate American artist in Rome: such artists were in danger of being rendered impotent through too religious a reverence for the Old Masters. These Americans lose their New England Transcendental idealities but resist what Tanner neatly caUs the "Descendentalism " (xv) of Europe, particularly Flemish "secular opacity" (xv)—aU of this in the golden atmosphere of Rome of the Volume V 75 Number 1 The Henry James Review FaU, 1983 1870s, which James looked back to nostalgically when he wrote his William Wetmore Story much later. In Roderick Hudson, Rowland Mallet represents New England Puritanism, with its whip-like conscience, which both Hudson and Story avoided by expatriation, but at great cost. When James labels Story...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6555
Print ISSN
0273-0340
Pages
pp. 75-77
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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