The first book by distinguished novelist, journalist, and literary critic Rebecca West: a biography of Henry James
Setting the standard for a century’s worth of criticism, Rebecca West diagnosed Henry James as an American who “could never feel at home until he was in exile” in this slim, readable biography, published just a few months after his death in 1916.
West boldly assesses Roderick Hudson as “not a good book,” and displays remarkable foresight in describing Daisy Miller as a “sad and lovely” book that “will strike each new generation afresh.” An early advocate of feminist principles, she has fascinating things to say about James’s heroines, and her division of his work into early and late periods continues to be a basic principle of Jamesian scholarship.
One of the twentieth century’s brightest minds, Rebecca West began her career as a public intellectual with this thoughtful and compelling study of a literary giant.
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Dame Rebecca West (1892–1983) is one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists, journalists, and literary critics of the twentieth century. Uniquely wide-ranging in subject matter and breathtakingly intelligent in her ability to take on the oldest and knottiest problems of human relations, West was a thoroughly entertaining public intellectual. In her eleven novels, beginning with The Return of the Soldier, she explored topics including feminism, socialism, love, betrayal, and identity. West’s prolific journalistic works include her coverage of the Nuremberg trials for the New Yorker, published as A Train of Powder, and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, her epic study of Yugoslavia. She had a son with H.G. Wells, and later married banker Henry Maxwell Andrews, continuing to write, and publish, until she died in London at age ninety.