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Washington Square (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – November 5, 2010
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About the Author
Adrian Poole is Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge.
Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Sloper, whose mansion on Washington Square is the setting for most chapters of the novel, is a popular and successful society doctor, made wealthy by his marriage to a New York belle and by his energetic practice. He's a man of intelligence and wit, with a penchant for irony and a well-concealed fund of narcissism. His beautiful wife dies young, leaving him a daughter who is neither beautiful nor intelligent. Catherine, the daughter, is pudgy, dull, and docile. Despite being the heiress of a considerable fortune, she reaches her early twenties without attracting a suitor. Then a handsome, clever, stylish stranger, Morris Townsend, comes courting with suspicious alacrity. The Doctor's widowed sister, a resident in the Washington square mansion, fancies herself a romantic and a matchmaker.Read more ›
Catherine isn't a terribly sympathetic heroine - her dullness, her lack of intelligence, and her refusal to stick up for herself will almost certainly grate with self-actualized women of the 20th century. However, she's much more sympathetic than the uniformly unpleasant cast of characters with whom she interacts in this tale, all of whom see her as little more than a tool to be manipulated for their own purposes. Her aunt uses her as the means by which to fulfill her own melodramatic fantasies of secret trysts and the tragedy of doomed love. Her lover sees her as the path to ready fortune and a life of indolence and ease. Even her own father demonstrates heartbreakingly few signs of genuine affection, viewing his daughter alternatively as an interesting scientific experiment ("how will she react if I apply *this* stressor?") and as a ready affirmation of his own cleverness. The fundamental principle of sarcasm is making the wielder feel superior by belittling another, and in this tale Dr. Sloper wields sarcasm with the same brutal precision he brings to his surgeries.
This is no pat morality tale, however, in which the wicked are punished and virtue is rewarded. Nor is it a thematically simplistic novel, characterized by a resolution in which the main characters change or grow in wisdom.Read more ›
Three operas were based on the book, a stage version called The Heiress was produced, and a film version based on the play starred Olivia DeHavilland and Montgomery Clift. A later film version, called Washington Square, starred Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Chaplin, and Albert Finnery, put a different spin on James's story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Oxford World's Classics edition was very nice. The introduction, explanatory notes, and appendices were very interesting.Published 2 months ago by JLD
James, Henry. Washington Square.
Of all Henry James’s misunderstood and abused heroines, Catherine Sloper is the saddest. Read more
Sometimes, I feel I am not arch or clever enough to grasp the subtlety of good ol' Henry James. It seems to me that Catherine Sloper, aptly if awkwardly named, is stuck in the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Christin M. Mulligan
Never thought I would like Henry James, but this is a good novel to start with if you are trying to read any more of his works. Read morePublished 14 months ago by 2300Amager
this book requires concentration because we have come accustomed the quick lt. that pervades a lot of present books...email@example.comPublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Rereading WS in late middle age, it looks very different than it did when I was in my 20s. Then, it was a fairly simple tale of a powerless young woman's happiness being crushed by... Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by Catholic book friend
Unfortunately, the book was never delivered to the intended recipient, my uncle who was recovering from surgery in a rehab facility in Columbus ohio. Read morePublished on June 5, 2013 by Amy Peterson
I have the classic movie, the Heiress which is based upon Washington Square. I've also seen an updated version of the same movie but it was actually called Washington Square and... Read morePublished on October 3, 2012 by Pat
The book is what I needed for a class I will teach this Fall. Oxford World Classics provides the necessary material for this kind of class.Published on June 9, 2012 by John Bray