Henry James’ magnum opus takes on new significance

Editor’s notice: As many people shelter at dwelling, Tampa Bay Occasions staffers write about what they’re studying to flee. Elizabeth Djinis is an editorial author.

I’m embarrassed to say that I first fell in love with Henry James not via a e book, however a film.

As a baby, I used to be obsessive about watching any sort of interval drama I may discover. Sooner or later, my father steered Washington Sq.. The story was completely different from the “marriage plot” items I usually loved: There was a wedding plot right here, however twisted on its head. Whereas Jane Austen might need painted folks in a usually sympathetic, if satirical, mild, James centered on simply how merciless people may be and the way their very own formative experiences contribute to their actions later in life. The movie broke my coronary heart and I couldn’t cease fascinated by it. I nonetheless do.

I’ve since learn the novella the movie is predicated on, in addition to various James’ quick tales. However as self-isolation and quarantine came across us, I spotted I had by no means learn James’ magnum opus, The Portrait of a Girl. The e book opens in a countryside property in England, the place a younger American girl, Isabel Archer, meets her prolonged household for the primary time. Archer has come to England via a Grand Tour-like proposal from her maternal aunt, who resides half time in England and Italy. Like a lot of James’ works, the e book is an exploration of the American expatriate mindset and the variations between Europeans and Individuals. The evocative scenes take the reader from city London to the ruins of Rome and the gorgeous medieval halls of Florence. It’s probably the closest I’ll come to touring within the subsequent few months.

However the central rigidity of your complete novel is: Who will Isabel Archer marry? Isabel is an uncommon character, and I at instances discovered…

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