The Great Good Place is a tale of the double nature in a single breast?a moving story that makes an appeal against the tyranny of affairs, of avoidable items of secondary importance as they afflict the social life of civilized man. An author, no longer able to cope with the complexities of his social and literary life, dreams of a great good place where quiet men live apart from the world and return to peace of mind. In "Europe" (1899) a passionate pilgrim longs for a voyage to the continent of her hopes and ...
The Great Good Place is a tale of the double nature in a single breast—a moving story that makes an appeal against the tyranny of affairs, of avoidable items of secondary importance as they afflict the social life of civilized man. An author, no longer able to cope with the complexities of his social and literary life, dreams of a great good place where quiet men live apart from the world and return to peace of mind. In "Europe" (1899) a passionate pilgrim longs for a voyage to the continent of her hopes and dreams, but is thwarted by the selfish intervention of her mother, who is determined to deny her daughter the wonderful experiences she herself once enjoyed. Paste is a Maupassant-like story of naked greed that becomes more powerful than even the sense of self-protection. In The Tree of Knowledge the artlessness of the works of a rich dilettante sculptor is secretly recognized by his family. To suit their own ends, however, the family members keep up the fiction of the artist's renown. The Abasement of the Northmores (1900) treats the caprices of posthumous fame. The Third Person (1900) is an ingenious story, tenderly told, of how two maiden ladies find their house to be haunted. In Maud-Evelyn, a young man is adopted into the household of an elderly couple still brooding over the death of their daughter. He falls into their emotional clutches and is accepted as their son-in-law, pretending to be the spouse of a still-living Maud-Evelyn. Miss Gunton of Poughkeepsie (1900) is a rich American and moneyed flirt who tests the family of an Italian prince of ancient lineage before she will consent to marry him.
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.
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.