Daisy Miller and Washington Square (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Daisy Miller and Washington Square, by Henry James, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions ...
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Daisy Miller and Washington Square (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Daisy Miller and Washington Square, by Henry James, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Strikingly modern in its psychological insight, social observation and stylistic innovation, Henry James’s fiction continues to attract and intrigue readers a century after its initial appearance. This volume offers two of his most popular and critically admired novellas: Daisy Miller and Washington Square.

In Daisy Miller, James paints a vivid portrait of a vibrant young American girl visiting Europe for the first time. Lovely, flirtatious, eager for experience, Daisy meets a wealthy American, Mr. Winterbourne, and a penniless but passionate Italian. Her complex encounters with them and others allow James to explore one of his favorite themes, the effect of Americans and Europeans on each other.

Washington Square’s Catherine Sloper is Daisy Miller’s opposite. Neither pretty nor charming, she lives with her wealthy, widowed, tyrannical father, Dr. Austin Sloper, who can barely conceal his disdain for his shy, awkward daughter. When a handsome suitor, Morris Townsend, comes calling, Catherine’s father refuses to believe he is anything other than a heartless fortune hunter and sets out to destroy her romance.

Jennie A. Kassanoff is Assistant Professor of English at Barnard College. Her articles have appeared in Arizona Quarterly and PMLA. Her book, Edith Wharton and the Politics of Race, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593081058
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 325,958
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennie A. Kassanoff is Assistant Professor of English at Barnard College. Her articles have appeared in Arizona Quarterly and PMLA. Her book, Edith Wharton and the Politics of Race, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Biography

Henry James (1843-1916), born in New York City, was the son of noted religious philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of eminent psychologist and philosopher William James. He spent his early life in America and studied in Geneva, London and Paris during his adolescence to gain the worldly experience so prized by his father. He lived in Newport, went briefly to Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began to contribute both criticism and tales to magazines. In 1869, and then in 1872-74, he paid visits to Europe and began his first novel, Roderick Hudson. Late in 1875 he settled in Paris, where he met Turgenev, Flaubert, and Zola, and wrote The American (1877). In December 1876 he moved to London, where two years later he achieved international fame with Daisy Miller. Other famous works include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Princess Casamassima (1886), The Aspern Papers (1888), The Turn of the Screw (1898), and three large novels of the new century, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). In 1905 he revisited the United States and wrote The American Scene (1907). During his career, he also wrote many works of criticism and travel. Although old and ailing, he threw himself into war work in 1914, and in 1915, a few months before his death, he became a British subject. In 1916 King George V conferred the Order of Merit on him. He died in London in February 1916.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 15, 1843
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      February 28, 1916
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63

Read an Excerpt

From Jennie A. Kassanoff’s Introduction to Daisy Miller and Washington Square

Like Winterbourne and his cohort of reproving Americans, early critics of Daisy Miller took pains to classify and typologize James’s heroine. The Nation, marveling that "no American book of its size has been so much read and so much discussed,” saw the story as a cautionary tale. "It is a perfect study of a type not, alas! uncommon.” Daisy was the garish American tourist par excellence. The journal could only hope that Daisy Miller would find its way aboard "all the ocean steamers” that set sail across the Atlantic, and thereby "be so presented to the 'moral consciousness’ of the American people that they, being quickwitted, may see themselves here truthfully portrayed, and may say, 'Not so, but otherwise will we be’” (James’s "Daisy Miller,” p. 106). The critic for the North American Review, Richard Grant White, agreed that "in Daisy Miller Mr. James has undertaken to give a characteristic portrait of a certain sort of American young woman, who is unfortunately too common.” The text, he hoped, would have a "corrective effect” on American travelers: "It is perhaps well that [James] has made this study, . . . which should show European critics of American manners and customs the light in which the Daisy Millers are regarded by Americans themselves” (James’s "Daisy Miller,” p. 107).

Other readers, however, were not so sanguine. Daisy Miller was "an outrage on American girlhood,” they declared (James, Daisy Miller; Pandora; The Patagonia; and Other Tales, p. v). Indeed, her story was so scandalous as to cast doubt on James’s patriotism. The New York Times, for one, took this charge seriously enough to mount a spirited rebuttal. Mr. James, the Times insisted, was obviously "possessed by a sincere patriotism”: Only someone truly committed to his country could "[consecrate] his talents to the enlightening of his countrywomen in the view which cynical Europe takes of the performance of the American girl abroad” (James’s "Daisy Miller,” p. 103).

For his own part, James grew weary of the debate and eventually tried to put the matter to rest. In the twenty-four-volume New York Edition (1909), he summarily dropped the story’s subtitle, "A Study,” and insisted that the tale had neither prescriptive nor descriptive designs on American womanhood. "My little exhibition is made to no degree whatever in critical but, quite inordinately and extravagantly, in poetical terms,” James explained (Daisy Miller, p. vi). His readers were not to confuse art with life: "My supposedly typical little figure was of course pure poetry, and had never been anything else” (p. viii). This effort to contain Daisy’s multiple meanings, however, seems nothing if not a self-conscious parody of Winterbourne’s own effete aestheticism. As Winterbourne strolls into the malarial Roman arena, blithely quoting Byron, he belatedly recalls that "if nocturnal meditations in the Colosseum are recommended by the poets, they are deprecated by the doctors.” As a fictional character himself, Winterbourne’s insistence on the difference between art (the poets) and life (the doctors) is an awkward one. An aesthetic taxonomist of the worst kind, his empirical observations are too little and too late.

In probing such distinctions between art and life, and the generic and the specific, Daisy Miller exposes the tension between what Russ Castronovo has called the conservative "true democrat” and the more revolutionary "radical democrat.” According to Castronovo, the true democrat is the citizen who imagines freedom as a freedom from society. His activist counterpart, the radical democrat, however, sees freedom as the "freedom to participate in the daily forms and activities that constitute community” (Necro Citizenship, p. 142). Winterbourne is, in this respect, the cautious "true democrat.” Because he worships conformity, stasis, and polite restraint, he relies on the bland certitude of standard categories. Faced with Daisy’s "extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity,” Winterbourne can only accuse her of "a want of finish.” Displaying the true democrat’s antipathy toward inconclusiveness and disorder, he rejects her unfinished appearance—an appearance that threatens democratic consensus and closure (see Nelson, p. 240).

Unlike Winterbourne, who begins and concludes Daisy Miller in the same place —"'studying’ hard” in Geneva and rumored to be "much interested in a very clever foreign lady”—Daisy herself charts a dynamic path through the text. Resisting the docent culture of museums where "dreadful old men . . . explain about the pictures and things,” she insists instead upon unscripted, unmediated encounters with the real. She rejects tour guides of all sorts, balking at the repeated interference of the "vigilant matrons” who would police her behavior. Like her literary successor, Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Daisy wants to "see for [her]self” (James, The Portrait of a Lady, p. 203). She longs to generate "a little fuss”—to experience the messy turmoil of direct, democratic engagement. Thus, when the American ingénue bids goodnight to Winterbourne after their first meeting, she playfully remarks, "I hope you are disappointed, or disgusted, or something!” Craving dissent, Daisy seeks a public sphere in which one can speak one’s mind without the stifling intervention of self-styled representatives or chaperones.

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Gotta love the classics!

    I love classic movies! One of my favorites is "The Heiress" starring Olivia Dehaviland and Montgomery Clift. I loved the characters and plot but I always noticed that in the opening credit it says its based on the book "Washington Square"--so of course I had to check it out..and I'm glad I did books are always more detailed than movies! It's fascinating to watch the main character Catherine Sloper change throughout the book..her dad is a complete jerk..and her aunt would be considered a cougar. All in all you should read the book and watch the movie--doesn't matter which one first! Both Great

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 20, 2014

    Ok

    I like happier endings

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