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eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherLibrary of America
File size4.6 Mb
Release date 03.08.1999
Pages count975
Book rating4.24 (37 votes)
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What impresses me about James's early stories is how competent and professional a writer he was from the very beginning. There really isn't a "bad" story in this collection, though you do notice as you work your way through them that he gets better and better as the years progress. His first story publication is a decent tale, obviously modeled on some of the stories of writers such as Poe who specialize in trick (and mildly macabre) endings. However, as he published more and began to stretch his legs a little (and lengthen the extent of his stories; most of the works in this volume would technically be called novelettes or novellas, i.e. longer stories of about 30,000 to 50,000 words: some are, indeed, short novels) he really makes this genre his own. Many of the early stories take place in America, which makes them interesting simply because they display his views on his home country and its culture in contrast to much of what he later wrote as an emigre in Europe. Some of the stories he wrote after his first travels in Europe are marred by prose that is almost akin to travel essays (far too much minute description of small Italian towns and their tourist attractions and artworks); once he merely uses the terrain as a setting (though still often integral to the plot) this feature of his writing improves and the stories themselves become the focus of interest. My favorites include "The Story of a Masterpiece," "A Passionate Pilgrim," "The Last of the Valerii," and "Adina." "Madame de Mauves" is interesting because I read it as looking forward to _Portrait of a Lady_, though his handling of the plot is much more unsophisticated and blunt in the story than in his later great novel.

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