Portrait of a Novel
Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
Norton, $29.95, 385 pp.
Anyone asked where to begin reading Henry James is likely to suggest, as I did recently, The Portrait of a Lady. Though he preceded it with two splendid short novels—The Europeans and Washington Square—it was with the six-hundred-page Portrait that James fully arrived and, as Michael Gorra puts it in his fine new study of this “American masterpiece,” became truly Jamesian. In 2004 Gorra, a professor of English at Smith College, gave...
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