Henry James and Revision: The New York Edition

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9780198128717: Henry James and Revision: The New York Edition
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At the height of his powers Henry James turned from the creation of new fiction to the `writing over' of his past works for the definitive New York Edition of his novels and tales. His anxious scrutiny of what he had written across his long career - up to thirty-six years before - led sometimes to rejection, but more often to a renewed imaginative intimacy with the creations of his old self through the intensive revision of his texts. In the first major study of the subject Philip Horne examines the revision of particular works, shedding new light on interpretative controversies (as with The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller). He attends to questions of principle raised by the paradoxical processes of the reviser. Using much new material, this book tells the painful but impressive story of James's lifelong struggle for perfection, and illuminates his genius as a framer of sentences and a master of dramatic nuance. James's engagement with revision is connected with every other aspect of his achievement; it displays vividly and accurately his close experience of the life of writing.

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"Henry James and Revision" investigates what drove James, at the height of his powers, to turn from the creation of new fiction to the rewriting of his past works for the definitive New York Edition of his novels and tales (1907-9). His anxious scutiny of what he had written across his long career - up to 36 years before - led sometimes to rejection but more often to a renewed imaginative intimacy with the creations of his old self, expressed in the intensive verbal revision of his texts. The book both examines the revision of particular works, which often throw light on interpretative controversies (as with "The Portrait of a Lady" and "Daisy Miller") and attends to questions of principle raised by the paradoxical processes of the reviser. Using much new material, it tells the painful but impressive story of James's lifelong struggle for perfection and illuminates his genius as a framer of sentences and a master of dramatic nuance. James's engagement with revision is connected with every other aspect of his achievement.

Review:

`an immensely detailed and scholarly piece of work ... The strength of Horne's book lies in his sensitivity to the subtle changes of effect and nuance that James often achieves in his revisions for the New York edition ... One could read this book for the interest and instruction of following Horne's literary detective work alone, but this would be to underestimate the many other virtues of what, I'm sure, will come to be regarded as one of the most important recent works on Henry James'American Studies

`THE phenomenon of the New York Edition of Henry James's work is well known in scholarly circles. ...It was a prodigious achievement, and Philip Horne charts it in an exemplary way, with a biographical account of the revising and publishing history. ...The book establishes Philip Horne's place among the generation of distinguished young Jamesians now coming along. It has a closeness of attention which is super-fine, and at many points it is extremely illuminating.' Bernard Richards, Notes and Queries

'elegant and scholarly book' Times Higher Education Supplement

`Philip Horne has written a brilliant academic study, showing in detail the author's revisions of stories and novels in the preparation of the New York Edition of his works ... He [Horne] seems to have absorbed the ways of thought natural to James and to have caught the tone of voice that goes with it.'Stuart Hampshire, New York Review of Books

'Reading Horne on James is rather like reading Pritchett on Chekhov or Ellmann on Joyce. He seems to have absorbed the ways of thought natural to James and to have caught the tone of voice that goes with it.' The New York Review

'Philip Horne's Henry James and Revision is one of the better studies this year and also as deeply satisfying a treatment of this important Jamesian issue as I have read. First of all, it is a comprehensive study, incorporating a great fund of information and previous scholarship pertinent to its subject. Second, Horne exhibits simply exquisite critical acumen in his close reading of James's revisions, especially very subtle ones. Third, he incorporates an enlightening and refreshing allusiveness to the broader tradition of English literature when contextualizing James's revision processes. Horne, without being dogmatic, offers a persuasive counter-balance to the sort of 'hot' problematic-oriented views at present concerning James's revision process ...This bookshould be read by any number of American scholars who these days simply assume that the unrevised texts are fresher and freer of the Master-discourse.'Richard A. Hocks, University of Missouri, MLR, 88.2, 1993

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