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Christopher Newman, a 'self-made' American millionaire in France, falls in love with the beautiful aristocratic Claire de Bellegarde. Her family, however, taken aback by his brash American manner, rejects his proposal of marriage. When Newman discovers a guilty secret in the Bellegardes' past, he confronts a moral dilemma: Should he expose them and thus gain his revenge? James's masterly early work is at once a social comedy, a melodramatic romance and a realistic novel of manners.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Series:||Penguin Classics Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.04(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
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.
William C. Spengemann is the Hale Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College. He edited the Penguin Classics edition of Nineteenth-Century American Poetry.
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The American by Henry James is a romance for both people who love romances and those who do not. Set in late nineteenth century Paris, it combines a love story with the struggle between a new, wealthy American and an old, traditional French family over the lovely daughter of the family. The story involves Christopher Newman, a wealthy American businessman, during the Paris portion of his European tour. Romance seems be a large part of what he is looking for. The first suggestion that he may have found it occurs in his encounter with the artist, Noemie Nioche. This turns out to be merely a passing fancy. Things get more serious when his American friends, Mr. and Mrs. Tristan put him in contact with an attractive young widow, Claire de Cintre. Madame de Cintre, nee Bellegarde, whose first marriage had been arranged to an elderly nobleman who gave her a title, but little else. Upon meeting Newman, both seem to find what they are looking for in the world of romance. As the story develops it becomes clear that it is sufficient for Newman to win Claire but that he must also win over her family, which consisted of her mother, Madame de Bellegarde and her brother, Urbaine, the Marquis de Bellegarde. The House of Bellegarde was full of pride and tradition, but short of money. As the Bellegardes size up Newman, it becomes obvious that they are weighing the sale of their pride for Newman¿s money. Ultimately they reach their decision. In their last meeting, Claire informed Newman of that she was to become a nun. Although shocked, Newman could not persuade Claire to break free of her family¿s rule and breath the free air which comes so naturally to an American. Given one piece of evidence, Newman attempts to recover Claire back through blackmail. When the Bellegardes refuse to submit, Newman destroys his evidence. Up to the very end, the reader is left hoping for the happy ending, but he hopes in vain. For the romantic, this book provides an inspiring love story. For the historian, it provides a glimpse into the life of Nineteenth Century Aristocracy on two continents. For the lover of freedom, it provides a struggle between New World freedom and individuality and Old World tradition and bonds of consanguinity. With something for everyone, The American is a worthwhile read for all.
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