Washington Square by Henry James,Henry, Jr. James,Michael (CON) Cunningham, Michael Cunningham

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This classic novel, originally published as a serial in Cornhill Magazine and Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, tells the story of the struggles between a daughter and her intelligent, controlling father from the viewpoint of an unnamed narrator. This book is often compared to Jane Austen’s works for the clearness of its prose and its extreme concentration on human troubled relationships.

Henry James tells the story of Catherine Sloper, plain and obedient, daughter of the widowed, well-to-do Dr. August Sloper of Washington Square. When a handsome, incompetent man-about-town proposes to Catherine, her father forbids the marriage because he believes the man to be after Catherine’s fortune and future inheritance. The conflict between father, daughter, and suitor provokes consequences in the lives of all three that make this story one of James’s most piercingly memorable.

The inspiration for James’s Washington Square came from a tale about a jilted heiress, which James heard from the actress Fanny Kemble. The novel provides a social portrait of Washington Square and lower Manhattan during the late nineteenth century and remains a memorable work—one featured in several films.


About Henry James,Henry, Jr. James,Michael (CON) Cunningham, Michael Cunningham

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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.
Published January 1, 2004 by Signet Classic.
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In Cunningham's lively and amusing first novel, six women who have been friends for two decades gather together on the snowiest night of the year.

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