Washington Square, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)

Description

Henry James's classic tale of romance in urban nineteenth-century America, Washington Square is edited with an introduction and notes by Martha Banta in Penguin Classics. When timid and plain Catherine Sloper is courted by the dashing and determined Morris Townsend, her father, convinced that the young man is nothing more than a fortune-hunter, delivers an ultimatum: break off her engagement, or be stripped of her inheritance.

Torn between her desire to win her father's love and approval and her passion for the only man who has ever declared his love for her, Catherine faces an agonising dilemma, and becomes all too aware of the restrictions that others seek to place on her freedom.

James's masterly novel deftly interweaves the public and private faces of nineteenth-century New York society; it is also a deeply moving study of innocence destroyed. This edition of Washington Square includes a chronology, suggested further reading, notes and an introduction discussing the novel's lasting influence and James's depiction of the quiet strength of his heroine. Henry James (1843-1916) son of a prominent theologian, and brother to the philosopher William James, was one of the most celebrated novelists of the fin-de-siecle.

His novella 'Daisy Miller' (1878) established him as a literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic, and his other novels in Penguin Classics include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Awkward Age (1899), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). If you enjoyed Washington Square, you might like Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, also available in Penguin Classics. 'Washington Square is a perfectly balanced novel...a work of surpassing refinement and interest' Elizabeth Hardwick 'Perhaps the only novel in which a man has successfully invaded the feminine field and produced a work comparable to Jane Austen's' Graham Greene

Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780141441368

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Reviews

Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by
3

I used to think I hated Henry James, based on my reading of The Wings of the Dove, in which I found the plot potentially riveting and yet ruined by James' prose style. Kind of like Women in Love, which I read during the same era. Then I picked up Portrait of a Lady while living in Thailand (which led to me being desperate for books in English other than the newest Dan Brown/John Grisham/you get the idea crap "novel") and rather enjoyed it. A recent read of Altar of the Dead convinced me that I ought to give good old James another try, so I picked up Washington Square, a perennial favorite in the world of SAT essay examples here in NYC. Since my students talk about it all the time, I already knew the storyline and figured it would be nice if I could discuss it with them.The story of Catherine Sloper's ill-fated romance with Morris Townsend is sad, but in that bittersweet, 'it didn't have to be this way' kind of way. There isn't any one person to blame for the sequence of events, but I did find myself wanting to reach into the book to smack some sense into almost all of them at one point or another. I did get the feeling that James was implying that he found the father to be the most to blame, which I can't entirely agree with. The action of the novel takes place almost entirely in the drawing room of Catherine's home on Washington Square, in a corporeal sense, and internally in a more accurate sense. This book is more of a character study than a novel, and looks at the ways in which one person's attitudes and actions can affect the lives of others, a point which is particularly appropriate when discussing a culture not known for its open communication. The writing itself was a lot less rambling than I remember The Wings of the Dove's writing to have been, and not as archaic as some of the other books from this era. However, I don't always notice older language, so I might not be the best judge of that. I did find this to be a very quick and easy read though, and reasonably interesting.

Review by
5

I cannot believe how much I loved Washington Square! It was great! It actually borders on fantastic! Washington Square is about Dr. Austin Sloper, a very prominent doctor, his daugther Catherine Sloper, a very unassuming girl, and Lavinia Penniman, Dr. Sloper's meddlesome sister and Catherine's aunt. Now, Dr. Sloper is a very smart but calculating and clinical man. It seems he grew colder when his first child died and then his wife during childbirth with Catherine.<br/><br/>Dr. Sloper doesn't care for Catherine. He might love her but he doesn't think well of her appearance or her limited intelligence. When, at a big party, Catherine meets and is smitten with Morris Townsend, Dr. Sloper immediately thinks he's after her money since Catherine already has her 10,000 inheritance from her mother and will get 35,000 after Sloper's death and Townsend blew all of his money coasting through Europe.<br/><br/>It doesn't help matters when Lavinia gets involved acting as a conduit for Catherine and Morris. Things sort of snowball from getting very intricate but simply constructed. I believe in a less gifted author than James (I'm looking at you Nicholas Sparks!) this could have been ridiculous, corny, complicated, and plain stupid.<br/><br/>However, James knows how to write straightforward prose. Events were always quick and just the facts would suffice. A 12-month vacation abroad was about a chapter or so. It was fantastic. Not to say it was scanty. Quite the contrary, it was incredibly verbose. The last few chapters were great. It could have ended happily and been one big cliche instead it ended like it would have in real life.

Review by
5

I cannot believe how much I loved Washington Square! It was great! It actually borders on fantastic! Washington Square is about Dr. Austin Sloper, a very prominent doctor, his daugther Catherine Sloper, a very unassuming girl, and Lavinia Penniman, Dr. Sloper's meddlesome sister and Catherine's aunt. Now, Dr. Sloper is a very smart but calculating and clinical man. It seems he grew colder when his first child died and then his wife during childbirth with Catherine.<br/><br/>Dr. Sloper doesn't care for Catherine. He might love her but he doesn't think well of her appearance or her limited intelligence. When, at a big party, Catherine meets and is smitten with Morris Townsend, Dr. Sloper immediately thinks he's after her money since Catherine already has her 10,000 inheritance from her mother and will get 35,000 after Sloper's death and Townsend blew all of his money coasting through Europe.<br/><br/>It doesn't help matters when Lavinia gets involved acting as a conduit for Catherine and Morris. Things sort of snowball from getting very intricate but simply constructed. I believe in a less gifted author than James (I'm looking at you Nicholas Sparks!) this could have been ridiculous, corny, complicated, and plain stupid.<br/><br/>However, James knows how to write straightforward prose. Events were always quick and just the facts would suffice. A 12-month vacation abroad was about a chapter or so. It was fantastic. Not to say it was scanty. Quite the contrary, it was incredibly verbose. The last few chapters were great. It could have ended happily and been one big cliche instead it ended like it would have in real life.

Review by
5

I cannot believe how much I loved Washington Square! It was great! It actually borders on fantastic! Washington Square is about Dr. Austin Sloper, a very prominent doctor, his daugther Catherine Sloper, a very unassuming girl, and Lavinia Penniman, Dr. Sloper's meddlesome sister and Catherine's aunt. Now, Dr. Sloper is a very smart but calculating and clinical man. It seems he grew colder when his first child died and then his wife during childbirth with Catherine.<br/><br/>Dr. Sloper doesn't care for Catherine. He might love her but he doesn't think well of her appearance or her limited intelligence. When, at a big party, Catherine meets and is smitten with Morris Townsend, Dr. Sloper immediately thinks he's after her money since Catherine already has her 10,000 inheritance from her mother and will get 35,000 after Sloper's death and Townsend blew all of his money coasting through Europe.<br/><br/>It doesn't help matters when Lavinia gets involved acting as a conduit for Catherine and Morris. Things sort of snowball from getting very intricate but simply constructed. I believe in a less gifted author than James (I'm looking at you Nicholas Sparks!) this could have been ridiculous, corny, complicated, and plain stupid.<br/><br/>However, James knows how to write straightforward prose. Events were always quick and just the facts would suffice. A 12-month vacation abroad was about a chapter or so. It was fantastic. Not to say it was scanty. Quite the contrary, it was incredibly verbose. The last few chapters were great. It could have ended happily and been one big cliche instead it ended like it would have in real life.