In addition to his sister, Alice, who was an accomplished diarist and prose stylist in her own right, his older brother, William Jameswas a famous American philosopher and psychologist. Their father, the philosopher and theologian Henry James Sr.
Michael Gorra weighs in. Or rather the Great American Novel, for the article in that familiar phrase is important, suggesting that there can be just one, a particular book that fills a particular need. Yet that idea of singularity remains, an idea hardwired into the language ever since the Civil War novelist John W.
DeForest first used the term in an essay in The Nation. DeForest himself believed that nobody had yet written such a novel. He never mentioned Melville, whose best work was then forgotten, and saw Hawthorne as too self-consciously a New Englander, and too far removed from daily life.
The next generation, though, would present the nation with several stronger candidates, writers whose careers were only just beginning at the time DeForest coined that essential phrase. William Dean Howells wrote several great novels, books like A Hazard of New Fortunes about money and real estate, labor, and success.
There would be Huckleberry Finn, that magnificent journey down the river into the heart of our founding sins.
Nobody, however, came closer to writing that novel than Henry James in The Portrait of a Ladyand not in spite of the fact that he set his work in Europe, but precisely because of it. He had moved to Paris in and then to London, and he found his special subject in the American encounter with Europe, in what it had to teach us about the limits and limits of our own independence.
James saw those lessons as an issue of individual freedom above all, though they do indeed have larger implications. To what degree are we as Americans truly self-made and self-reliant?
Are we really at liberty to do what we please, to select our own destiny? Those questions had fascinated James from the start, and inafter a long period of careful apprenticeship, he was at last ready to look for answers. Then she suffers a fairy-tale rescue at the hands of an aunt.
Taken to Europe and furnished with an unexpected inheritance, Isabel finds what looks at first like an ever-expanding field in which to exercise her own sense of independence.
She starts by rejecting one suitor after another, including an English lord who seems to her less a person than a personage, a set of inherited possessions and powers. To Madame Merle the self is socially determined and not fully separable from the world around it.
But Isabel is the voice of American exceptionalism, and she believes only in her own enabling and ennobling isolation. What Isabel will eventually learn is simply what the Old World has always had to teach us.
She learns that America itself has had no separate or special creation, that there is no fresh start, no city on a hill, no exemption from history itself.The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James Apparently the fiction of Henry James appears to be about people at the center of high society.
On closer examination, many of James’s characters struggle to enter high society from less fortunate backgrounds. The Ambassador Is Henry James’s “The Portrait of a Lady” the Great American Novel? Is Henry James's 'The Portrait of a Lady' too .
Free Essay: Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady "On her long journey from Rome her mind had been given up to vagueness; she was unable to question the. Starting an essay on Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady? Organize your thoughts and more at our handy-dandy Shmoop Writing Lab. Henry James' ~'The Portrait of a Lady~' is an important novel dealing with themes such as love, separation and social status.
This lesson offers some essay topics that will help your students. Starting an essay on Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady? Organize your thoughts and more at our handy-dandy Shmoop Writing Lab.