The Portrait of a Lady (Paperback)
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|Follows the story of American heiress Isabel as she visits Europe to find her own destiny, is pursued by suitors, and ultimately must make a tragic choice. *Author: James, Henry/ Brookner, Anita (INT)/ Walker, Pierre A. *Series Title: Modern Library Classics *Publication Date: 2002/02/01 *Number of Pages: 594 *Binding Type: Paperbound *Language: English *Depth: 1.00 *Width: 5.25 *Height: 8.25|
From the Publisher:
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 only child of two Polish Jews, Anita Brookner was extremely fond of her difficult and elusive parents and still describes herself as a "grown-up orphan" and a supremely lonely person. A precocious reader, Brookner was introduced to the classics of English literature by her father, and went on to study history at the University of London. She later gained a Ph.D. in art history and lived and studied in Paris for three years. She served for many years on the faculty of the Courtauld Institute in London and has published several books on 18th- and 19th-century French art, on which she is a recognized expert. She began writing novels during her summer vacations (as she says, to keep from feeling sorry for herself because she had nothing to do) and eventually gave up her career as an art historian to be a full-time novelist. Her books have won many honors, including the Booker Prize.Henry James was born into a wealthy Irish-American family who settled mainly in New York City's Greenwich Village and in Albany, New York, but lived and traveled extensively in Europe while Henry was growing up. Educated at a variety of schools in the U.S. and abroad, Henry spent a year at Harvard Law School, which he loathed, and used his time haunting the library and attending James Russell Lowell's lectures at Harvard College. Soon after, he began publishing short stories and reviews. When he was in his late teens, he spent much of his time on his own in Europe--chiefly England, France, and (his favorite) Italy--and, as he approached his 30s he became a virtual resident of Europe, returning to the U.S. only for brief periods. James became increasingly successful, wealthy, and respected as a writer of fiction and as a critic; his brilliantly insightful prefaces to his novels have influenced many writers. His attempts to write plays were all sad failures: To be a successful dramatist was a lifelong dream for James, but he seemed to lack the ability to dramatize action anywhere but on the printed page. In 1896 he settled at Lamb House, in Sussex, where he lived until his death in 1916. Reactions to James's work range from scorn and impatience (H. G. Wells called him "a hippopotamus resolved at any cost...upon picking up a pea") to reverence. Despite his increasing mannered and challenging style, James's work endures as great literature because of his humane sensibility, his insight into American and European culture, his moral clarity, his delicate wit, and the lucid subtlety of his language.