Real Thing and Other Tales

Overview

The Real Thing (1892) was written at a time when James, distressed by the public's seeming indifference to his novels, courted a wider audience with stage plays, and set himself to ration his prose fiction. One aspect of the life-art antithesis that preoccupied him at this time is illustrated by this story, an engaging sermon of "the perverse and cruel law in virtue of which the real thing could be so much less precious than the unreal." The narrator is a painter who is unable to use a model Victorian couple as ...
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The real thing, and other tales

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Overview

The Real Thing (1892) was written at a time when James, distressed by the public's seeming indifference to his novels, courted a wider audience with stage plays, and set himself to ration his prose fiction. One aspect of the life-art antithesis that preoccupied him at this time is illustrated by this story, an engaging sermon of "the perverse and cruel law in virtue of which the real thing could be so much less precious than the unreal." The narrator is a painter who is unable to use a model Victorian couple as subjects because they are, indeed, too authentic. Sir Dominick Ferrand (1892) is a James potboiler—a tale with vague touches of the supernatural, the uncanny. James displays his interest in the theatre with Nona Vincent (1892), in which the author of a play is encouraged in his career by a married woman who acts as his "angel." At the same time, he is intrigued by the young actress who plays the title role, although her professional skills are only moderate. The Chaperon (1891) tells of a girl who volunteers to share the social ostracism of her errant mother. In no other tale does James display so much anger against the hypocritical harshness of late-Victorian London society than he does here, especially as it is manifested in the self-righteous vindictiveness of the heroine's family towards her divorced mother. Greville Fane (1892) tells the story of a writer of best sellers. Vulgar and tasteless, but of a kind disposition, the protagonist writes himself to death to support a lazy ingrate son and a snobbish daughter.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780781234009
  • Publisher: Reprint Services Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/28/1992
  • Series: Notable American Authors Series
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Henry James
Henry James was a master at tracing the social boundaries of the Gilded Age -- between Old and New World, Europe and America, desire and convention, men and women. He brought an invaluably clear-eyed, and critical, sensibility to America's evolving cultural mores.

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

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