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The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 30, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
Isabel Archer, one of James's most fully drawn characters, has postponed a marriage in America for a year of travel abroad, only to discover upon her precipitate and ill-considered marriage to an American living in Florence, that it is her need to be independent that makes her marriage a disaster. Gilbert Osmond, an American art collector living in Florence, marries Isabel for the fortune she has inherited from her uncle, treating her like an object d'art which he expects to remain "on the shelf." Madame Serena Merle, his long-time lover, is, like Osmond, an American whose venality and lack of scruples have been encouraged, if not developed, by the European milieu in which they live.
James packs more information into one paragraph than many writers do in an entire chapter.Read more ›
With Isabel's dilemma American writer Henry James deals with the conflict between society and individual longings. Many writers have dealt this issue -- but only a few succeeded with such grace and competence as this author. The point is that Isabel is not the only one dealing with this problem. As a matter of fact, all characters of this novel, at some point in their life have to face the society against their personal wishes.
James was a master of psychological development. Not a single character in this novel is unrealistic. The cast of supporting characters is as deep as Isabel. With his talent, the writer explores the psychological conflict is a result of the society pressures against the characters beliefs -- and not a gratuitous philosophy like many writers usually do. The depth brings another pleasure in the reading of the novel.
Language is usually the main barrier for contemporary readers, when it comes to classic novels. With James it is a problem that can be easily overcome. His use of language however sophisticated is not difficult. His choice of words and structures are conscious and beautiful. The first chapters tend to be read slowly, but once the readers get the hang of James' prose, reading becomes an undeniable pleasure.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I can completely see how it set the path towards Modernist fiction in terms of a shift away (if not entirely) from the kind... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Suzey Ingold
Have to like this author's style...lots of description of people and places from another timePublished 2 months ago by Marcia A. Feliciano
Don't like any of the characters. Plot was good but draggy and the main character was very annoying.Published 4 months ago by Mardhiah
I did not like it at all. Never ending descriptions and explanations were tiresome and some of the. Occurrences made no sense.Published 5 months ago by Roberta M. Black
The content itself needs little review as most know that this is Henry James' masterpiece. My review is concerned with the edition which is part of the Penguin Clothbound Classics... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Alicia
Excellent values learnt which may be applied to today's lifePublished 8 months ago by HELENE THOMAS
Great novel, but typos in a Norton edition? That's disappointing and very atypical of their attention to detail. Vol. I: IV, p. 39, "Mr. Touchett's visit" should be Mrs. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bjejune