The text of this Second Edition of one of Henry James's most important novels is that of the New York Edition (1908).
In a sense, there are two distinctly separate Portraits—the 1880-81 First Edition and the New York Edition, which James extensively revised. The editor has meticulously prepared a list of textual variants to facilitate comparative reading of the novel. Nina Baym, F. O. Matthiessen, and Anthony J. Mazzella provide differing interpretations of James's revision process.
Henry James and the Novel culls autobiographical excerpts from James's other writings—his Notebooks
, the intentionally autobiographical A Small Boy and Others
and Notes of a Son and Brother
, and the travel books Italy Revisited
, A Roman Holiday
, and Roman Rides
Contemporary Reviews and Criticism provides both chronological and critical perspective on The Portrait of a Lady
. Four reviews from 1882 outline the novel's initial critical reception.
Seven important essays from the period 1954-1991 provide a wide range of critical responses by Dorothy Van Ghent, William H. Gass, Laurence B. Holland, Charles Feidelson, Louis Auchincloss, William Veeder, and Millicent Bell.
Bibliographical Aids includes judiciously selected secondary works on James from the wealth of material published yearly.