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  • Henry James
  • Sarah B. Daugherty

A major new project is The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James (CFHJ), the first two volumes of which were published this year. The edition, projected to comprise 34 volumes (22 of novels, 10 of tales, and 1 each of James's Prefaces and notebooks), uses digital technology to enhance textual and historical scholarship, increasing its accuracy and scope. Every volume will include a chronology of James's life and writing, compiled by Philip Horne; historical and textual introductions with supporting bibliographies; a glossary of foreign words and phrases; and notes on historical contexts and textual variants. As general editors Michael Anesko, Tamara L. Follini, and Adrian Poole explain in their introduction, contributors have been asked to supply verifiable information, but these richly annotated books will establish a basis for critical arguments as well.

Lynda Zwinger's recent book affirms the enduring value of close reading, as it attends to details (including James's sly humor) overlooked by formalists and theorists, while the Henry James Review's special issue on the author and Fredric Jameson attests to the power and limitations of Marxist critiques. Among the novels, What Maisie Knew has attracted particular interest, not only in its cultural and political themes but also in its modernist representations of consciousness. [End Page 77]

i Editions and Letters

Susan M. Griffin has edited The Europeans (Volume 4 of CFHJ), a neglected novel that James himself called "A Sketch" and subordinated to his more ambitious narrative, The Portrait of a Lady. (Gertrude Wentworth, observes Griffin, is a forerunner of Isabel Archer.) Griffin also notes James's keen awareness of "the realities of the marketplace" even as he imagined "a version of 'Boston' … freely float[ing] above the rigid strictures of realism." The first English edition (Macmillan) serves as Griffin's copy-text, since it is the initial one James is known to have corrected.

Editor Nicola Bradbury's introduction to The Ambassadors (Volume 18 of CFHJ) examines a range of topics: James's "hectic and disturbed" progress on the novel he came to regard as his best; the influences of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and W. D. Howells; and the mixed reception of the novel by contemporary reviewers, which only dimly foreshadows its later promotion by academic critics. The most notable feature of the volume is Bradbury's selection of the 1903 Methuen edition as the copy-text, in which a famously disputed chapter (number 29 in the New York Edition) is assigned number 28. ("Art lives upon discussion," said James—and also upon disagreements among editors.) Three appendixes reprint James's draft of his "project," extracts from his notebooks, and the preface to the New York Edition.

James's emergence as a professional author is documented in The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1878–1880, Volume 2, ed. Pierre A. Walker and Greg W. Zacharias (Nebraska)—a collection of 87 letters, 51 published for the first time. Rejecting chances to engage in "journalistic writing," the novelist began work on The Portrait of a Lady, enjoining friends and family to keep his project "an intense secret" until its completion. Simultaneously he gained self-confidence in negotiating with editors and publishers. "My going to Chatto & Windus has had a most salutary effect upon Macmillan, who have come down with a second cheque, much larger than the 1st," he confided to his mother. (As Howells observed, a "man of letters" had perforce to become "a man of business.") James's choice of England as his permanent home was cemented by American critics' treatment of his Hawthorne. As he complained to Elizabeth Boott of reviewers' chauvinism: "A melancholy revelation of angry vanity, vulgarity & ignorance. … We are surely the most-thinskinned idiots in the world, & I blush for my compatriots." His pride [End Page 78] in his own cosmopolitanism likewise influenced his perceptions of his remaining American friends. "Lizzie" Boott he found "rather elderly & plain"; Constance Fenimore Woolson he described as "old-maidish, deaf, & 'intense'"; and the aging James Russell Lowell, he wrote, retained his "childlike temperament." The collection concludes with a supplement of four letters (dated 1868, 1876, 1878, and 1879), the manuscripts of which were...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 77-93
Launched on MUSE
2017-09-01
Open Access
No
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