The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

3.4 113
by Henry James
     
 

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One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, �affront her destiny.� James began The Portrait of a Lady without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of her fate. The result is a richly imagined study of an American heiress

Overview

One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, �affront her destiny.� James began The Portrait of a Lady without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of her fate. The result is a richly imagined study of an American heiress who turns away her suitors in an effort to first establish�and then protect�her independence. But Isabel�s pursuit of spiritual freedom collapses when she meets the captivating Gilbert Osmond. �James�s formidable powers of observation, his stance as a kind of bachelor recorder of human doings in which he is not involved,� writes Hortense Calisher, �make him a first-class documentarian, joining him to that great body of storytellers who amass what formal history cannot.�The old gentleman at the tea-table, who had come from America thirty years before, had brought with him, at the top of his baggage, his American physiognomy; and he had not only brought it with him, but he had kept it in the best order, so that, if necessary, he might have taken it back to his own country with perfect confidence. At present, obviously, nevertheless, he was not likely to displace himself; his journeys were over and he was taking the rest that precedes the great rest. He had a narrow, clean-shaven face, with features evenly distributed and an expression of placid acuteness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940148805922
Publisher:
Hillside Publishing
Publication date:
01/04/2015
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Henry James, son of theologian Henry James Sr. and brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author and literary critic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He spent much of his life in Europe and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for novels, novellas and short stories based on themes of consciousness and morality. James significantly contributed to the criticism of fiction, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest freedom possible in presenting their view of the world. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and possibly unreliable narrators in his own novels and tales brought a new depth and interest to narrative fiction. An extraordinarily productive writer, he published substantive books of travel writing, biography, autobiography and visual arts criticism. Source: Wikipedia
Also available
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The Bostonians (1886)
The Ambassadors (1903)
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Copyright: This work is available for countries where copyright is Life+70 and in the USA.

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 Portrait of a Lady 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 reviews.
Mariposa More than 1 year ago
I approached the book with trepidation because of what I recalled of James' writing style. I was totally surprised how easily I got used to it and became totally engaged with the book. I loved every word. The characters came alive for me. I thought it would be stilted and dated. Instead it was fascinating and also provided so much material for conversation. Highly recommended.
Adeline79 More than 1 year ago
Classic literature at its best. Henry James is a master craftsman who delves deeply into the layers of the human consciousness. It is very detailed and requires considerable effort on the part of the reader if you are to gain full enjoyment and connection with the story. This book is worth the time and effort. It can stand multiple readings even in close succession due to the plenitude of detailed descriptions of setting and characters. It spans such a range of human emotion. It is full of intelligent characters and touches upon important themes such as marriage, love, female freedom, social constraints, wealth, etc, etc. This is an excellent choice for a book club and for those who enjoy immersing themselves in a long and detailed story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautiful. That's all I can utter, it was so unfathomably beautiful. I would recommend this to anyone who loves old books, and has an imagination. It takes a certain person to really appreciate this work of art. Mr. James is an excellent poet. I will always keep this one next to my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not a Romance novel...but a study in narcissitic tendencies and how they attract and find each other in the heroine Isabel Archer. I read this book in one week. Saw the DVD with R. Chamberlain, awesome. I had to get the book even though the DVD had a copy on it. There are some memomorable quotes I extracted and actually did some journaling simultaneously to excavate my painful feelings of having psychological battle with a control freak. There are delightful characters of various layers, not a smut read, but intellectually stimulating and surprising ending. Only wish someone could write a second part to see how Isabel's marriage turned out, if she went back that man! Best fiction I ever read! Recommend for late teens and up
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Henry James but found this one a bit boring. The actual events of the book were well written and at times I did find it to become a page turner but all in all I found it to be just okay.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was blood chilling. How some humans can calculatingly make others lives miserable without so mach as twitch amazed me. I think that Isabel really loved Ralph but couldn't admit it. It was a very well written book and I thought it worth reading. But I liked Wurthering Hights better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James to young adults and adults who seek to read the classics and enjoy romance and suspense at the same time. This book is a complicated read and much of this reading involves thinking. Because of the way James wrote this book, things are not specifically stated in the story and you must interpret these things the way you see them. The story of Isabel Archer is told by her cousin, Ralph Touchett. When Isabel first visits her cousin in Europe she is lively and seems as though she doesn¿t wish to be tied down. Her desire to be free from the bonds of marriage is expressed many times throughout the book. When she meets Gilbert Osmond and his daughter everything changes. Osmond tells Isabel what she wants to hear to encourage a possible marriage. Isabel¿s life suddenly has lost its vitality and becomes miserable when she marries Osmond. Osmond begins to control Isabel¿s life but she continues to stay for love of her stepdaughter. The end of this book leaves you in suspense with no final conclusion. Although this book¿s plot develops slowly, its suspense keeps you from putting it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book truly touched me as an incredible insight into the female spirit. Never have I read such an articulate and accurate account of how women struggle in their decsions relating to love and how those choices can shape your life. I came away from this book with a wealth of inspirational quotes that remind me of the female strength and what it truly means to be a lady - inspired and hopeful. This book has become my all time favorite, simply for its reference quality. You can pick it up at any time, read a few pages and be given a refreshed outlook on your womanhood. It is truly a beautiful piece.
Guest More than 1 year ago
its a good story on the whole but the writer has lengthened it a lot.At some times i couldn't understand the deep philosophys of Henry James about human nature and of the whole world .If at some places it would be less philosophical and more sentimental it would be better.Its ending though tragic but in my opinion is well.
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