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Washington Square - Henry James

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documents in English
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book reviews
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  1. The international subject
  2. A psychological realism masterpiece

I have chosen to present the novel Washington Square, which was written by Henry James and published as a book in 1881.

Henry James was born in 1843 in New York City in a wealthy family of intellectuals. James's father was a prominent theologian and philosopher and could provide for him, enabling him to travel a lot and to study in many different places around the world.

He is a very well-known author in his era as his works include different kinds of books, among which there are novels, plays, travel books and criticism. But he was known mostly for his novels with major works which are still read a lot (for example Daisy Miller, The Portrait of a lady). He also wrote The Turn of the screw, which was turned into films many times in the last few decades.

[...] Catherine does not stop fighting against her own feelings, she grows old and does not meet anyone else. At the very end, when Catherine's father dies, Morris reappears, and in a final encounter, asks her hand one last time She refuses. In the preface to The Portrait of a lady, James says he wants to place the centre of the subject in the young woman's own consciousness It seems that he did the same for Washington Square. And when Catherine describes the evolution of her feelings to her aunt Lavinia, she explains how she feels. [...]


[...] I will use a quote of Woody Allen as a structure for my presentation. He once said that two themes are prominent in his novels, and now I'm quoting : the first theme is what he himself called the international subject which meant in effect the relationship between America and Americans on the one hand and Europe and Europeans on the other. ( ) The other dominant theme is related to this: it is that of the innocent, eager for life, corrupted or despoiled by the sophisticated, in whom the good things sought by the innocent appear to reside. [...]

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