The Princess Casamassima

The Princess Casamassima

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by Henry James
     
 

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When Henry James chose to, as he did in The Princess Casamassima, he could write about the political turbulence of his era with astonishing excitement and directness. The London underworld of terrorist conspiracies that entangles his hero, Hyacinth Robinson, comes alive under his pen with a violence that seems, 100 years later, only too familiar.

Overview

When Henry James chose to, as he did in The Princess Casamassima, he could write about the political turbulence of his era with astonishing excitement and directness. The London underworld of terrorist conspiracies that entangles his hero, Hyacinth Robinson, comes alive under his pen with a violence that seems, 100 years later, only too familiar.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940023201450
Publisher:
New York : Scribner
Publication date:
08/31/2016
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
594 KB

Meet the Author

Henry James was born on April 15, 1843, on Washington Place in New York to the most intellectually remarkable of American families. His father, Henry James Sr., was a brilliant and eccentric religious philosopher; his brother was one of the first great American psychologists and the author of the influential Pragmatism; his sister, Alice, though an invalid for most of her life, was a talented conversationalist, a lively letter writer, and a witty observer of the art and politics of her time.

In search of the proper education for his children, Henry senior sent them to schools in America, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Returning to America, Henry junior lived in Newport, briefly attended Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began contributing stories and book reviews to magazines. Two more trips to Europe led to his final decision to settle there, first in Paris in 1875, then in London next year.

James's first major novel, Roderick Hudson, appeared in 1875, but it was Daisy Miller (1878) that brought him international fame as the chronicler of American expatriates and their European adventures. His novels include The American (1877), Washington Square (1880),Princess Casamassima (1886), and the three late masterpieces, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). He also wrote plays, criticism, autobiography, travel books (including The American Scene, 1907) and some of the finest short stories in the English language.

His later works were little read during his lifetime but have since come to be recognized as forerunners of literary modernism. Upon the outbreak of World War I, James threw his energies into war relief work and decided to adopt British citizenship. One month before his death in 1916, he received the Order of Merit from King George V.

Brief Biography

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

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The Princess Casamassima 3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Henry James can be a difficult writer to read. This is because he demands utmost attention from the reader, which is perhaps a little unfair in this day and age. The Princess Casamassima, however is perhaps the most readable of his works. It is the story of Hyacinth Robinson, a poor/working class bookbinder nee illegitimate offspring of an English Noblemen and a French Prostitute circa towards the end of the nineteenth century London. It traces his relationship with an expatriate American woman estranged from her husband who is an Italian prince and the Anarchic revolutionaries in Europe that were gaining popularity at that time, especially with lower classes and the disfranchised. His discontentment with his station in life, alongwith passionate search for his place in the world propel him into extraordinary circumstances. I read this book after encountering a review by a professor in a local paper who had in the wake of the September 11 bombing, hastily replaced his usual Henry James entry in his Classics course with this novel. After having finished this book I feel passionate enough to announce, that I have to include it with my erstwhile collection of livres extraordinaires; Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Star Rover, The Trial, Journey to the End of the Night, Laughter in the Dark etc. These are books that actually change your state of consciousness; i.e. reading these books may be dangerous to your complacency about the state of the world. Be warned then, this is one of those books that may leave you a tormented soul, your mind like the waves of a stormy ocean. But then again perhaps it may be necessary to achieve such turbulence before the 'peace that passes all understanding'. And if Nirvana never comes then at least one lived to one's human capacity. But I digress, back to the Princess; if you want categorization then you could say that this is a Political Novel, A Love Story, A Study of the Human Condition but that would be less meaningful than to say that this an entertaining and yet disturbing novel. That this story is highly personal for James wherein the protagonist, Hyacinth, embodies the writer's innermost yearnings both conscious and unconscious lends it a certain authenticity which is rare and the remarkably sympathy displayed by the author towards every character, however lowly, is rarer still in Literature. Most remarkable, given James patrician background, is the realistic depiction of poor sans patronizing. One could very well read this novel in the context of recent terrorist events as an insightful study of what makes an otherwise sane young man take the aforementioned path. And while the creed and doctrines of the novel's protagonist are certainly quite different from his contemporary peers, there is the same idealism, the discontent and the quest for glory that ends dismally but which has its roots not in some spontaneous mutation of the soul but its organic evolvement from circumstance and day to day, even mundane encounters. In a world that offers on the one hand the slow death of the submission to the status quo and on the end the quick violence of lopsided revolutions, and where the very human soul (Or if you are Buddhist, the authentic self), which is diminutive to begin with, is daily diminished in its encounters with the loveless, the possibility of earthly happiness may be only available in one's complete absorption in something genuinely artistic. It would not be to far-fetched to say that in his heart of heart, James too wanted to wanted to blow up a building. But he chooses to be an artist instead...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gave up after a few pages. Unreadable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago