restricted access The Europeans by Henry James, and: The Ambassadors by Henry James (review)
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Henry James. The Europeans. Ed. Susan M. Griffin. Vol. 4. The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James. 34 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015. Lviii + 211 pp. $100. (Hardback).
Henry James. The Ambassadors. Ed. Nicola Bradbury. Vol. 18. The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James. 34 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015. Cv + 560 pp. $150. (Hardback).

The publication of the first two volumes of the first collection of the “complete fiction” of Henry James is indeed an event for James scholars and the general public. When completed, this thirty-four volume edition will include all of James’s novels (vols. 1–22), his short fiction (vols. 23–32), his prefaces to the New York Edition (vol. 33), and his notebooks (vol. 34). At average current prices of around $100 for The Europeans and $150 for The Ambassadors, the complete edition at today’s prices will probably total more than $4,250, but the cost will be well worth the investment for research libraries, the James scholar, even the devoted reader. Under the general editorship of Michael Anesko, Tamara Follini, Philip Horne, and Adrian Poole, this edition will be the first to include all of James’s fiction. The New York Edition of The Novels and Tales of Henry James (1907–1917) was selected by James himself, who excluded many of his works, revised all the works he did include, and added prefaces to each volume. Leon Edel edited The Complete Tales of Henry James (1961–1964) in twelve volumes for J. P. Lippincott, its contents of more than 100 short stories giving some indication of the labors involved in producing this edition of “complete fiction.”

The general editorial policy for this edition is to rely on “the text of the first published book edition of” (xv) a novel and “the first appearance” of a story in a magazine (xix), with all textual variants of subsequent publications of a work included following the explanatory notes at the end of the volume. The explanatory notes in both of these volumes are extensive and helpful for the scholarly reader. Each volume also includes a “Glossary of Foreign Words and Phrases,” and Nicola Bradbury’s edition of The Ambassadors includes as an appendix James’s “Project of a Novel,” the only surviving plan for a novel by James (with the exception of the one for the unfinished Ivory Tower). In addition to the volume editor’s substantial introduction, textual introduction, and bibliography, each volume includes two illustrations: the title page of the 1878 first edition of The Europeans and a holograph of the first page of the manuscript in Griffin’s volume; the title page of the 1903 first English edition of The Ambassadors and a map of Paris around 1900 in Bradbury’s [End Page 108] volume. Each volume includes Philip Horne’s “General Chronology of James’s Life and Writings” and the volume editor’s “Chronology of Composition and Production” for the specific novel. These well-planned and executed scholarly additions to both novels are readable and accessible, in no way interfering with the pleasure of reading James’s fiction. Uncluttered with textual variants or any scholarly material other than small note numbers for the end notes, the text of each novel is beautifully printed and easy to read.

Susan Griffin’s introduction to The Europeans combines the existing biographical information about the young Henry James with scholarly interpretations of this short novel to broaden our appreciation of its cultural significance. Griffin shows how The Europeans anticipates many of the themes and general emplotment of the international theme in The Portrait of a Lady (1881), reminding us that both novels deal primarily with American characters, “even if many are expatriated” in both novels (l). Perhaps for this reason, the novel also testifies to James’s growing reputation with English readers, who appreciated his gentle satire of the provincial and cosmopolitan American characters. Griffin draws on the recently published volumes in The Complete Letters of Henry James, edited by Pierre A. Walker and Greg W. Zacharias, another monumental project underway, in which James’s struggle to break into London society between 1876 and...