The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James: A Terrific Masterpiece

I first came across Henry James through his short story "The Madonna of the Future", which I had found so splendid and touching that I had made a decision that 'One day I shall pursue a novel by James', for his longer works are known to be quite long (but perhaps not as difficult as those of Joyce, Woolf or Faulkner), but nevertheless, since I'm often too picky about what I read, I had not ventured upon James so far.

And this summer, almost a month ago, I came across "The Potrait of a Lady" and gathered courage and time to read the 600 page mammoth. And today, when I'm finally done with it, I don't really feel I'm done with it. The world of the protagonist, Isabell Archer, is still vivid in my mind. The troubles of Americans and Europeans, and the mingling of their cultures, is neverending. And the most beautiful thing about the novel? It's the beauty of the portrait James paints as a true artist. He shows what a lady is and, is perhaps, supposed to be, in the times the novel is set. His multiple page long descriptions of the psychological working of a character's brain mesmerizes me to a trance of appreciation, appreciation of himself and his genius as a writer.

The reason I say a "terrific" masterpiece is open to interpretation because there might be readers who may not like the novel, for digging through it's prose is not fun. But I must say, it may not be exciting, it is indeed rewarding. The sense of accomplishment and learning that you gain from it as a reader and a writer, is infinite. So if you're up for some hard core workout, and have a plenty of free time, pick it up, otherwise go around, have some light warm-up with other books, but do come back to James one day, eventually, as I did.

Current Book: "For The Love of Physics" by Walter Lewin (Hehe, this one, just for fun. And I need a break too. :D)
Current Music: "Why Do We Fall" by Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises OST (@The world, are you ******* ready for this biggest, global phenomenon next week?)

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You have turned serious !!! liked the current music

Tanya said...

^^Ah, atleast someone notices!

Arkantos said...

Perhaps one day I'll have the courage to pick up such books! I still have to complete that unabridged English translation of Don Quixote that I had started about four years ago. LOL :P

Tanya said...

^^Yeah you should pick it up someday! You won't regret James (Henry wala, don't confuse it with James Joyce - which you prolly will regret - I almost pulled my hair out when reading Joyce)

Ah, it's a coincidence you mention it, as I've been contemplating whether to pick it up this year or not..there's always this trouble of picking the best english translation with foriegn works..but yes quixote is quite huge..

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