Read Washington Square by Henry James Online


Washington Square ressegueix les peripècies d'una hereva innocent, que intenta ser lleial al seu pare, però que és seduïda per un pretendent interessat.És una història de sofriment silenciós que fa pensar en Eugénie Grandet, la novel·la de Balzac, però que va més enllà. Henry James denuncia amb una ironia cruel l'encotillament de la societat aristocràtica nord-americana, qWashington Square ressegueix les peripècies d'una hereva innocent, que intenta ser lleial al seu pare, però que és seduïda per un pretendent interessat.És una història de sofriment silenciós que fa pensar en Eugénie Grandet, la novel·la de Balzac, però que va més enllà. Henry James denuncia amb una ironia cruel l'encotillament de la societat aristocràtica nord-americana, que és capaç de sacrificar sense escrúpols el que li convé per preservar les convencions i les aparences....

Title : Washington Square
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788484373391
Format Type : ePub
Number of Pages : 300 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Washington Square Reviews

  • Fionnuala
    2019-01-07 21:03

    If I close my eyes and ask myself what impression this book has left on me, the idea that comes immediately to mind is stillness. The stillness radiates from the main character, Catherine Sloper. I see her as a monumental figure in a hieratic pose, immobile, meek, but solid to the core. Her immobility impressed me greatly, especially as this book is quite like a play. There is a lot of dialogue, a small number of characters, and one principal location where most of the important scenes take place. The characters circle that space, and they circle Catherine. She rarely moves, and since she pauses before answering every question addressed to her, we have time to imagine her face turning slowly towards the speaker as she meditates her careful response. The result of Catherine's overly cautious responses is that the other characters fail to know her, and fail abysmally. Though he allows the reader to see more of her inner life than the other characters ever guess at, Henry James allows Catherine to keep the core of her being a secret even from us. I like to think that as he developed his heroine, his respect for her grew so that he had no choice but to preserve her privacy and to keep the mystery at the heart of her stillness a mystery to the end. That's what I wanted for her and that's what he delivered...............................................................While Catherine doesn't say very much, the other characters more than make up for her lack of verbosity. The exchanges between Catherine's various relatives reminded me of Jane Austin's ability to deliver witty dialogue line after line (of course people don't talk like this in real life, but how we wish they did). There were in fact many moments during reading when I was reminded of Jane Austin, and particularly of Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. Like Fanny, Catherine is undervalued by her entourage, and treated quite badly by certain among them. But Fanny acquires a savior. Henry James prefers Catherine to be her own savior.

  • Flora
    2019-01-20 03:25

    I love this book so much I can't bear it. As someone who adores just about every last word that Henry James (over-) wrote, it has never gotten any more deliciously (un-)satisfying than this -- a slim, tart little novel about plain, socially unpromising Catherine Sloper, whose wealthy father refuses to allow her to marry Morris Townsend, whom he believes to be mercenary. No matter how many times I read this book, the question still nags at me: "Does Morris have any feeling at all for Catherine, or is he really just after her fortune?" But why is this even a question?It's usually taken for granted that Morris is sketchily-drawn, the standard handsome and callow fortune-hunter of melodrama, and his own remarks to other characters in the novel seem to provide ample evidence. I'm not fully convinced of this, which isn't to say that he's fully-drawn; rather, I wonder if Morris Townsend might be a kind of failed stereotype, a failure *of* the novel to keep him in his appointed place. If he's so successfully sketchy, then wouldn't the novel be redundant, and its central ambiguity unambiguous? If that were so, then "Washington Square" would do little more than encourage the reader's contemptuous pity for its heroine, whose tragedy would be utterly generic: her inability to recognize her beloved's venal motives. That would be straight-up melodrama, or mean-spirited satire. That wouldn't be Henry James.The tragedy of the novel depends, though, on Catherine's father, Dr. Sloper, one of James's most stunning and indelible creations. The man despises his daughter, yet wants to protect her; he sees through Morris's dandyish charm, yet is most offended by the idea that his awkward, unlovely daughter would win herself such a handsome, charming husband. His opposition to the match may be, on the one hand, patriarchal duty, but it is no less an act of cold-blooded cruelty, and it is through his refusal to allow that the young man may like the money and yet be a fine husband that the real drama of "Washington Square" emerges. In fact, the pressure of this character produces the novel's greatest and least predictable achievement: the transformation of Catherine Sloper from a non-character -- the pathetic, jilted heiress -- into a character, and the reader's tormented resistance to Dr. Sloper not only keeps the door of "Morris Townsend" ajar, but keeps the novel on a wonderfully shaky course, morally and aesthetically.In later years, James himself commented that he started "Washington Square" with great disdain for Catherine, which metamorphosed into something much more complicated (similar, maybe, to Tolstoy's creation of Anna Karenina). Maybe it's possible, then, to read Morris Townsend (to whose consciousness we only have access in scant, sharp shards of observation) as the most reflexively novelistic in the book, in the sense that his own ambivalent heartlessness may well mirror the novel's own confused motives. James ultimately disavowed "Washington Square" -- he even omitted it from his "Collected Works" -- but it marks the first appearance of the central conflict that governs his later, greatest novels: the predation of love upon money, and vice versa. The moral puzzle of the passionate mercenary haunts his major work, and "Washington Square" may well mark the death of the non-characters (villain and victim) that started it all. A strange, beautiful, perfectly unsatisfying book.

  • Orsodimondo
    2018-12-29 03:26

    MR (e Ms) JAMESWashington Square non era tra le sue opere che James considerava migliori: infatti la escluse tra quelle che scelse per la New York Edition che fu la sua vetta editoriale (una raccolta dei suoi lavori maggiori in 24 volumi uscita in US e UK tra il 1907 e il 1909).Però Washington Square è tra le opere di James che i suoi lettori, io incluso, hanno preferito, e ha ispirato più di un adattamento, sia teatrale che cinematografico.Padre e figlia nella versione cinematografica diretta da William Wyle nel 1949: il dottor Sloper è interpretato da Ralph Richardson e Catherina da Olivia de Havilland. Il film uscì col titolo “The Heiress-L’ereditiera”.Come succede (sempre?) con James, quello che conta non è tanto la trama, spesso presa da un episodio vero e poi innestata di elementi disparati, a cominciare dal melodramma. Dico questo nonostante in queste pagine l’intreccio è a suo modo avvincente e fluido, non privo di colpi di scena, con molti dialoghi brevi e ben ritmati.Quello che conta davvero sono le ossessioni di James: e su tutte, sopra dentro sotto, la personalità dei suoi sfaccettati personaggi, l’incapacità d’amare è l’ossessione regina.Anche qui i personaggi incarnano più un’idea che soggetti realistici. Più anima che corpo. Nonostante James ripeta più volte che Catherine è goffa e sgraziata, manca di bellezza e si veste male, tentare di descriverla fisicamente risulterebbe difficile a qualsiasi lettore: molto più semplice sarebbe descriverne i dettagli psicologici.Nel più recente adattamento diretto da Agnieszka Holland (1997), Jennifer Jason Leigh è Catherine e Albert Finney suo padre, Dr Sloper.C’era una volta, prima che “Washington Square” abbia inizio, un uomo, il dottor Sloper, che si sposò per amore. E fu così fortunato che l’amore, cioè la donna che sposò, arrivò insieme a diecimila dollari di reddito e gli occhi verdi più belli di Manhattan. Visse felice e contento per cinque anni. Poi perse tutto: il figlio morì a tre anni, e due anni dopo sua moglie morì dando alla luce una bambina, Catherine, per la quale il padre, il dottor Sloper predisse che non avrebbe conosciuto l’amore, che non si sarebbe mai sposata con qualcuno davvero innamorato di lei. Il dottor Sloper non si sposò una seconda volta, non s’innamorò più, neppure di sua figlia, per la quale non nutrì mai amore paterno, piuttosto disprezzo.Olivia de Havilland con Montgomery Clift che interpreta Morris Townsend, sempre nella versione di Wyler.Data la premessa, ovvio che invece la figlia s’innamorò eccome, e per amore commise sbagli su errori, scegliendo l’uomo che puntava solo ai suoi soldi. James ha un bel sminuire e criticare Catherine, però è lampante che la sua simpatia è tutta per questo personaggio, per questa creatura femminile che sembra non poter accendere passioni, ma di passione vive, e si consuma.Ciò nonostante, dopo il primo sbaglio, Catherine riceve le attenzioni, affettuose, se non innamorate, di altri due candidati, un vedovo e un giovane avvocato: ma la giovane donna ripete l’errore paterno, vive come in un santuario, quello del primo amore. E non si innamora più, non ricambia, non accetta. Persevera nella tara di famiglia, l’incapacità d’amare.Quando il primo amore ritorna a bussare, ormai disilluso e sconfitto, Catherine potrebbe accoglierlo, aprirgli la porta. Invece, rifiuta anche quest’ennesima possibilità, e si consola con il ricamo.Una godibilissima tragicommedia in salsa freudiana.Jennifer Jason Leigh-Catherine Sloper con il suo spasimante Morris Townsend, interpretato da Ben Chaplin. In secondo piano un altro personaggio fondamentale, la zia Lavinia (interpretata da Maggie Smith), inguaribile romantica che si prodigò sempre perché l’unione riuscisse.Il film di William Wyler è bello e ben fatto, vinse quattro Oscar, e oltre al talento del regista e produttore, lo si deve molto anche al talento della protagonista che s’innamorò del play teatrale e spinse Wyler ad acquistarne i diritti (su sua insistenza lo fece la Paramount per $ 250.000 dell’epoca, e diecimila dollari a settimana ai due autori della commedia, moglie e marito, per adattarla in film). Olivia De Havilland è una più che notevole Catherine Sloper.Il film è ‘suggested’ dal breve romanzo di James. Il play era probabilmente più fedele: ma poi si volle rendere il personaggio di Morris Townsend meno arrivista e maramaldo perché a interpretarlo fu chiamata un divo romantico come Montgomery Clift. E quindi il film raddrizza le magnifiche curve di James, evita i bivi che lo scrittore amava, non rende giustizia alla complessità della novella di James, va dritto, ma funziona a meraviglia, è un buon film più che godibile, alleluja.Washington Square intorno al 1880, quando veniva pubblicata a puntate la novella di James, ambientata nella prima metà di quel secolo. A destra gli alti edifici in stile gotico costruiti nel 1837 dalla New York University. Al centro, nascoste dagli alberi, le case a schiera descritte da James, in buona parte ancora esistenti.

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-12-31 22:04

    Henry James is Gangnam styleGangnam styleCatherine Sloper is warm and humanle during the dayA classy girl who know how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffeeA girl whose heart gets hotter when night comesA girl with that kind of twistI’m a guy called Morris TownsendA guy who is as warm as you during the dayA guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools downA guy whose heart bursts when night comesThat kind of guyBeautiful, loveableYes you, Catherine Sloper, yes you, heyBeautiful, loveableYes you, hey, yes you, heyNow let’s go until the endI don't want your money Catherine SloperI don't want your money Catherine SloperNo, yeah, no,yeahI want youMorris Townsend, gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam styleEh- Sexy Lady, Henry James is Gangnam styleEh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh ohCatherine Sloper looks quiet but plays bridgeShe puts her hair down when the right time comesShe covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it allA sensile girl like thatI’m a guy called Morris TownsendI said it once now I say it againA guy who seems calm but plays when he playsA guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comesA guy who has bulging ideas rather than musclesThat kind of guyOn top of the running man is the flying man, baby babyOh oh, the daddy is the flying man babyDr Austin Sloper, a wealthy and highly successful physicianYou know what I mean babyYou know what I'm saying babyParasitic spendthrift, oh no noParasitic spendthrift, oh no noParasitic spendthrift, oh no noParasitic spendthrift, oh no noFat, balding, cold-eyed, but still somewhat attractiveFat, balding, cold-eyed, but still somewhat attractiveFat, balding, cold-eyed, but still somewhat attractiveYeah!Watch out – here comes the daddyBoo hoo – gangnam styleBoo hoo – gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam style

  • Agnieszka
    2019-01-02 23:24

    Catherine Sloper doesn’t strike us as a representative heroine. This novel has definitely more expressive and memorable protagonists but it is Catherine who, of all residents of the house at Washington Square, draws my attention. Though she is neither pretty nor smart she is gentle and kind and painfully shy. Just before Washington Square I read Daisy Miller and now I simply can’t help comparing the main heroines. Where Daisy is coquettish and reckless Catherine remains modest and immovable. Where Daisy fancies for romantic adventure Catherine has her feet firmly on the ground. When the first shines and dazzles us with her beauty the other is plain and dull. Or so we were told. Unlike Daisy Catherine does not want to shine, she does not demand our constant attention. And though both like nice dresses unfortunately Miss Sloper’s taste leaves a lot to be desired. So where Daisy looked lovely and dazzling Catherine appeared old and rather ridiculous. Had only Daisy had a bit of Catherine’s common sense. Or the other way round: what if Catherine was more flirtatious in the image of Daisy Miller?Catherine, who was extremely modest, had no desire to shine, and on most social occasions, as they are called, you would have found her lurking in the background.Catherine, being respectful and dutiful daughter, is nonetheless a great disappointment to her father. She has neither beauty of her late mother neither wit of her father. Her days go on knitting, keeping house, visiting relatives and attempting at all cost to please her father. Doctor Sloper is remarkable figure. He’s a brilliant man, renown doctor and he flatters himself being an expert in reading people. He has neither good opinion on his sister Lavinia nor his daughter. In his estimation Lavinia waslike a revolving lighthouse; pitch darkness alternating with a dazzling brilliancy!. And about Catherine he used to think she is about as intelligent as the bundle of shawls…; her main superiority being that while the bundle of shawls sometimes got lost, or tumbled out of the carriage, Catherine was always at her post, and had a firm and ample seat.As one can see Catherine has not an easy life. She is a victim of cruel remarks of her brilliant father who does not miss any opportunity, any neat bon-mot, any snide comment, even if it would hurt her feelings. And his remarks can cut to the quick, really. She is a victim of her foolish aunt Lavinia whose unbridled appetite for love affair and secret romance makes her push Catherine into the hands of fortune hunter. She is a victim of a handsome con man who made her to believe she was loved and wanted because of herself not her money. Finally, she is a victim of own good character and just awakened heart.But I do not see a victim in her at all. I see a woman whose way to independence and self-determination is long and bumpy, I see a woman whom any humiliation and disappointment will not be spared, I see a woman who is fed up with being constantly send to the corner.Catherine loves her father dearly but at the same time she’s afraid of him. But it lasts until it dawns to her that father doesn’t love her, that he doesn’t see his daughter as an independent, self-reliant person, that he denies her right to own opinion and choices, that even her act of rebellion is to him a kind of entertainment and he only thinks that his dull daughter had, after all, the guts to stand up to him, that Catherine wasn’t to him a partner at all. And once becoming aware of that fact she’s free. She can acknowledge finally the fact that Maurice had trifled with her devotion. She can see that aunt Lavinia eased him the task. And recognition of that liberates her.From her own point of view the great facts of her career were that Morris Townsend had trifled with her affection, and that her father had broken its spring. Nothing could ever alter these facts; they were always there, like her name, her age, her plain face. Nothing could ever undo the wrong or cure the pain that Morris had inflicted on her, and nothing could ever make her feel towards her father as she felt in her younger years. There was something dead in her life, and her duty was to try and fill the void.I liked her loyalty and raw honesty, her defiance and stubbornness to make her point, her silent opposition to her upbringing, to her father. Doctor Sloper says at one point of Catherine not being scenic. Poor Doctor, he couldn’t be more wrong. And after all he deserved that little revenge from her hand in the end. Everyone used to see Catherine as poor thing. They couldn’t be more wrong either. And the fact that Doctor saw through Maurice from the beginning and despite that failed I found highly ironic.After reading the last passage of the novel I couldn't help but smile when this image came to my mind. Let's call it alternative review for Washington Square, though Catherine is too polite to express it that way. But I can say it for her. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]4,5/5["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • James
    2019-01-20 23:17

    Book Review4 out of 5 stars for Washington Square, a classic novel written in 1880 by Henry James. Henry James is my favorite American realistic period or classic novelist, and Washington Square is an example of why. This man can take a small situation and write 300+ pages all about it. And this is one of his shorter books. In this classic, the tale of the average woman, who is set to inherit a large sum of money, meets dashing man... but of course, he's only after her money. She's considered plain-looking. He's considered ruthless. They couldn't possibly be in love. And as you follow the course of their "romance," you see what couples and relationships go through during the courting period... at least as it was 150 years ago. James is not shy when it comes to providing detailed descriptions of feelings and actions. You read his words as though you are in your head, thinking about choices and decisions for hours, then acting on them. This is a very direct story... commentary on the normal every day live, the differences between classes, the way in which women must act to find a husband, the efforts men go to so they can be free, the attitudes of society towards older women or those who are not considered great beauties. When you step away from this book, hopefully not too frustrated at the story being so basic and calm, you realize it's a reflection on reality... on what actually was happening at the time. Who would accept it today? Who would tolerate being treated in such a manner? And where do you go when you end up a bit hopeless? Stories like this aren't common nowadays, at least in this form. But when you put yourself into the time period, this is a true treasure. About MeFor those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Perry
    2019-01-07 22:23

    "James Writes Fiction as if it were a Painful Duty"- Oscar WildeOne of the Nicest Old Ladies I Ever Met-Faulkner, describing JamesOn my journey to read most of the modern "classics" as well as at least one novel by each renowned author, I've repeatedly avoided Henry James. Several years back I started on one and found myself daydreaming that my late grandmother was offering a sudsy soliloquy on a couple of "nice" and "clean" romances of her time (the 1930s). In all events, I finally opted for Washington Square, primarily because it's his shortest novel. Despite a few pretty turns of prose and exquisite character delineation, I found the driving narrative and dialogue passionless and soporific, with characters so melancholy and settings so glum, I soon did not care one wit about what happened. Instead, as I read, my terrible need to be put out of my misery was, lucky for me, ultimately staunched by my innate sense of survival.In sum, this is the unhappy story of a rich, controlling, widowed father and his only child Catherine, whom the dad deems "unattractive," "unintelligent" and "uninteresting." I too find alliteration effective to describe a novel that is Unbearable, Unrelatable Ennui.A young man asks his daughter to marry shortly after meeting her at a society party in Washington Square, NYC. Daddy suspects a money motive and forbids the marriage, else he'll disinherit the daughter. It sounded like a good plot. Oh well, to say any more would ruin for you a story that I could not force myself to finish.My Conception of "Catherine Sloper" (as played by James Spader)President Teddy Roosevelt was overly cruel when he called Henry James "a little emasculated mass of inanity." To Oscar Wilde's assessment though, I shout AMEN!.

  • Sue
    2019-01-08 21:21

    My first completed book of the year and one that has totally altered my view of Henry James and his fiction. Instead of being what I had thought of as the somber "master" of cold 19th century fiction, he is a man with sharp and perceptive humor, a clever sense of inequalities between sexes and in society. My enlightenment is partially responsible for my rating, though I also enjoyed the novel!The story is really quite simple...wealthy father knows what is best for future heiress daughter. Rogue suitor comes to town and captures her heart but does not pull the wool over daddy's eyes. Silly Aunt plays go-between and girl falls as deeply in love as a 19th century novel allows us to see. But James does not stop there he provides so much more by giving us asides filled will sarcastic, humorous "digs" at various characters, revealing deeper traits.In one exchange with his sister, Mrs. Almond, Dr. Sloper and she are discussing are discussing how the doctor will manage the situation. "'You are shockingly cold-blooded!' said Mrs. Almond. 'I need to be with all this hot blood about me. Young Townsend, indeed, is cool; I must allow him that merit.'" p 144And later, James briefly summarizes three of the main actors. "Mrs. Penniman, of the three persons in WashingtonSquare, had much the most of the manner that belongs to a great crisis. If Catherine was quiet, she was quietly quiet...If the doctor was stiff and dry, and absolutelyindifferent to the presence of his companions, it was so lightly, neatly, easily done,that you would have had to know him well to discover that...he enjoyed having to be so disagreeable. But Mrs. Penniman was elaboratelyreserved and significantly silent; there was a richerrustle in the very deliberate movements to which sheconfined herself, and when she occasionally spoke, inconnection with some very trivial event, she had the air ofmeaning something deeper than what she said." p 152And, as a final, briefer selection describing Mrs. Penniman once more: "'You leave him in good hands,' she said, pressing her lips to Catherine's forehead. (She was fond of kissing people's foreheads; it was an involuntary expression of sympathy with the intellectual part.) p 159I have perhaps fallen for the style more than the story here but one adds to the other. Certainly, I will seek out many more of James' novels in the future. The intimidation of the past is gone!Wonderful introduction for me as I've only read A Turn of The Screw in the past.

  • Kalliope
    2019-01-12 20:20

    STICKY SQUARESince I plan to be walking around Washington Square in a few months, I picked up this book for a reread. I can’t even remember exactly when I first tackled it, but I am delighted with my revisit - (the book and the square). And rereads are lately becoming highly enjoyable ventures.My enjoyment with Washington Square may lead to a rerun and a completion task of the major novels by Henry James. I am already familiar with a few but I have read them at different times in my life and in no particular order. It is time I consolidate my impression of his writing.What I did not expect in this revisit is the degree in which I relished lounging in James prose. Even though this is an early work, I felt such pleasure in drinking his writing as if the lines of his book were fresh water drunk avidly after a long walk or run in the heat of a summer day. Reading James had an almost sedative effect.I was somewhat taken aback when I found how familiar some of his syntax seemed to me. The way he strung words together evoked a similar pleasure to that of recognizing a painter’s work just by the texture of the brushstroke. I noticed his attention to prepositions, which for a non-English speaker, is therefore more baffling. He shifts them and this shifting had at times an equivalent effect to that of a purple dub in a shadow. - I am told he lives upon her.- Lives upon her?- Lives with her.....This example also contains another one of James’s idiomatic uses. The repetitions in his dialogues of expressions that seems ambiguous not only to the reader but the characters in the novel as well. Like throwing light to an obscure corner in a poorly lit room. Here is another sample:- Why are you so dry, Catherine?- So dry?- So cold—so irresponsive.The main character is an exercise of the maxim ‘show and not tell’. We are told from the beginning, mostly by hearing her father’s hammering opinion, that Catherine Sloper is a non-interesting character. She is bland, dull and insipid. In the early pages I asked myself, then, how James would deal with the challenge he had clearly set himself: how he would win the reader’s interest in someone that he first presents as offering no interest. So, in spite of the chorus that accompanies every appearance of Catherine, singing or extolling her lack of luster, the reader gradually, very gradually, sees emerging out of her flat mist a very enigmatic, firm, and rightful figure. She is ‘substantial’ after all. But then she could not be otherwise if she were ‘going to stick’. This is after all a story of Catherine’s ‘stickiness’.I imagine that many other readers would not share my reaction to Doctor Sloper, for I found myself liking him. Of course he is the culprit of much that Catherine has to suffer. He is responsible for branding her and thereby determining her life. More so than the right to arbitrate his progeny that any father may feel entitled to. But I also liked his rightfulness, his intuition, and also that his curiosity seemed to take the upper hand over his drive to authoritarianism. In this reading I paid particular attention to the fleeting references to time and place. Which streets or avenues are mentioned, the topography of that rapidly changing city, what are the perceived differences between Europe and the still forming new country, etc. Although this is most of all a study of character, the visual elements for me stood out precisely because there are not many of them.Beautiful work. So, soon Roderick Hudson and Daisy Miller…

  • Melki
    2018-12-23 02:14

    James presents the story of a wealthy doctor's wholly unremarkable daughter, and her whirlwind courtship with an untrustworthy gold digger. While reading this book is certainly not the worst thing that will ever happen to you, the whole experience is a bit like having tea with your Aunt Gertrude: expect a staid, rather dull affair where everyone minds his or her manners, trivialities are discussed, and then all go home . . . lulled into complacency, but still feeling slightly peckish.

  • Malia
    2019-01-13 23:09

    I'm of two minds when it comes to this book. On the one hand, the writing and James' observations are exquisitely on point, and he is able to create such a fleshed out story with so little story-line. On the other, I disliked all the characters. I did sympathize with Catherine, and in a way, even with Morris, but I did not connect to them. I've found this to be the case with other books by Henry James as well as Edith Wharton. They are such masters of language, but for me, they are not as acutely talented in drawing out characters with whom I have an affinity. I never perceived great passion or chemistry between any of the characters, so the "love story" did not strike me as terribly authentic or believable. That being said, I did strangely enjoy it. After reading far too much news in recent months, and quite a number or creepy thrillers, I felt a need for beautiful language, and eloquence in a world where some days it seems there is decidedly too little of either. I wasn't looking for a book to break my heart or fully engage all my emotions. I read this because I trust James to provide something of linguistic beauty, and in that respect, I was quite satisfied.Find more reviews and bookish fun at

  • Emma
    2019-01-20 02:07

    Poor Catherine! Her father Dr Sloper was absolutely vile and I just wanted to slap her horrible interfering, gossipy old aunt! Then there's Maurice Townsend, the gold digger...slimeball! My first Henry James but not my last!

  • StevenGodin
    2019-01-05 01:17

    Washington Square (1880) was originally published in two different magazines as a serial and Henry James himself didn't really think much of it as a small novel, and I would partly agree with that.Structurally simple in it's approach the story basically recounts a conflict between father and daughter over her wishes to wed a gentleman called Morris Townsend, who he greatly disproves of.The father, Dr. Sloper is a cold but intelligent man who after losing his wife seems to struggle with the realization that his Catherine is growing up, while Catherine is child like and has a quivering nervousness that seems like she is going to burst into tears at any given moment, which she regularly does. She is also one of the most dullest characters I have ever come across!, But saying that I found it extremely difficult to like anybody. Things would improve later on, but the whole novel never really gets out of first gear. As a father only wants what's best for their children he believes Morris is only after Catherine's inheritance once married. He would take her to Europe and try to shake the memories of him away, the fact he will never give his blessing to such a marriage only confounds that he really does love her, in spite of his harsh treatment. This was always an easy read, and the fact many compare James's writing with that of Jane Austin, I was expecting something more, but as a psychological study of family during the latter part of the 19th century, it just about delivered.

  • Maria Thomarey
    2019-01-17 22:17

    Αγαπώ αυτο το διαμαντάκι , που ειναι αφιερωμένο στην αγαπη απ'οπου κι αν προέρχεται ...

  • Tony
    2019-01-04 00:11

    Doctor Sloper - who is definitely not Doctor Slop in Tristram Shandy, I don't think - is an exquisitely drawn character, and his etching here by James - who is definitely not E. L.; well, I'm pretty sure - is so remarkable that I can almost understand the lasting purchase. Aunt Lavinia - who is definitely not Aunt Lavinia fromGreat Granny Webster; though, how many Aunt Lavinias can there be? - is similarly exquisitely drawn, if in less likable hues, and certainly less likable than the previously mentioned Aunt Lavinia.Washington Square - which came and went - is a parcel of land, in another parcel of land, where rich folk stop on their way, historically, to another parcel of land, all isolated from the real events of the day, like the coming fracture.A 'Negro oyster bar' - where plotters meet for nothing more than mercenary marriage - is all we get; yet I do not think James thought to divert from his abstract.

  • HRH
    2019-01-03 00:03

    I had read Daisy Miller and enjoyed it so I thought I would like another Henry James novel, Washington Square. Furthermore, one of the remarks on the cover said something about the man writing as good a family story as Jane Austen. What could be better? A lot of things actually. I even read somewhere that James didn't like the novel so he didn't include it in his anthology. I'm surprised he made it through the first time knowing the ending as he presumably did.Staged in New York City, Washington Square is the story of Catherine Sloper, the twenty-something daughter of a wealthy physician. When the handsome, clever, and prospectless Morris Townsend courts and proposes to Catherine, her father vehemently refuses his consent which basically adds up to an inheritance a third of what was originally promised. The books tediously accounts the little meetings and conversations, the escapade of Catherine's Aunt Pennyman, Catherine's trip to Europe, and Morris's eventual "jilting" of Catherine. The reader believes that at any moment the real story will begin.There are no side plots, only a handful of characters, and no other subject addressed that the "will they -won't they" question of Catherine's and Morris' wedding.The ending was the worst of all. In a chapter or two, James leads us through Catherine's life after her engagement if broken off. For a moment one guesses that it will have an ending similar to Persuasion, where the slightly older version of the meant-to-be couple finally comes together. But then Catherine just keeps getting older. Thirty, Forty, Fifty. There is a reason why the romantic escapades of old people are not usual. It is not romantic to hear how the hero has become fat and bald. Finally, Morris shows up and one thinks, aah finally! But no, Catherine awkwardly refuses him and that is the book. It was the sort of moment where one looks about oneself, sure that something was dropped. If one could only find the last pages then the book would be good and resolved.Alas, that was the book.

  • Alex
    2018-12-29 23:15

    Victorian books are embroidered with stock characters, with backstories that can be summed in a sentence. A sententious physician. A meddling older woman. A maiden aunt, with a sole romantic disappointment in her lonely past. It doesn't occur to you to think about what awful drama that sentence drags behind it, but it's occurred to Henry James. What was that disappointment? Would that maiden aunt have been better off undisappointed? So here's James's wonderful heroine: plain, dull Catherine Sloper. Her father - a wealthy, sententious, widowed physician - took one look at her and thought well, this daughter is plain and dull. Since then he's dealt with her ironically, distantly, with a vague sense of duty to protect her since she's certainly not going to be able to protect herself.The romantic prospect shows up, and pretty much everyone is suspicious. (Except for that meddling older woman, Catherine's odious aunt, in the tradition of Juliet's nurse.) Catherine is plain, dull and rich; Morris Townsend is handsome, broke and unemployed. You can't blame us for cocking an eyebrow.Dr. Sloper cocks more than an eyebrow. He cocks his whole fortune, insisting that he'll never give her a penny if she marries him. He knows this will crush her; she's utterly smitten, and she may never have any other romance. He judges that a life of lonely disappointment is her best option, as compared to a life of betrayal. Here we are at the drama, and it's high drama, right? It's high romance! And whether Dr Sloper gets his way or not, it may be high tragedy. And I've finally found a way to like Henry James; there's something lovely in his careful picture of Catherine's helpless distress. "You know how little there is in me to be proud of," she says. "I am ugly and stupid." He's found the drama in a life anyone else - even the characters themselves - would have relegated to the sidelines.I mean, listen, Henry James isn't any easier to love than Catherine is. With his steadfast refusal to get to a point, and his teetering piles of words, and his eek-a-mouse reaction to exciting moments. His characters conceal so much, they talk so circumspectly, it's like he's telling you a story with a pillow over his face. The drama is there, but you have to strain to hear it. He's writing in 1880, at the same time as Thomas Hardy's cinematic vividness; it's not like we hadn't invented excitement yet.But it's there, isn't it? Here's one reason the modernists looked back to James: his ability to find a story in the places one doesn't ordinarily look. As her father tries to ruin her only love affair, he's asked: "Hasn't she made a scene?" "She is not scenic," he replies. But he's wrong. She is.

  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    2019-01-07 23:10

    Some truly monstrous fathers can be found among the great works of fiction. Shakespeare's King Lear and Titus Andronicus certainly come to mind, or Hardy's 'Michael Henchard', and 'Laius of Thebes' may be the worst of the lot. Having just finished reading Henry James's Washington Square I am now fully prepared to add Doctor Austin Sloper to my top-ten list of 'Worst Fathers of Fiction'.Washington Square is a short novel (more a novella) by Henry James written in 1880, and is really an excellent introduction to the fiction of James. The novel is set in the New York City of the mid-19th century, and is the story of the courting of Dr. Sloper's only living child, Catherine, by a handsome young man, Morris Townsend. Catherine is, according to her father, "a dull, plain girl", but she is very, very rich. The plot largely revolves around Townsend's efforts to win Catherine's hand in marriage; the Doctor's efforts to thwart the attachment; and the meddling interference of Catherine's busy-body aunt, Lavinia Penniman. During the course of the courtship the reader is exposed to the monstrosity of Dr. Sloper, and begins to question the motives of Morris Townsend, and most importantly we witness the maturation of Catherine Sloper.Some authors paint the landscapes of their fictional world and insert their characters and the plot into it, but James takes an entirely different approach. Henry James portrays the psychological landscape of his characters' minds with his words. However, he throws a wrinkle into the mix as his narrator is neither omniscient nor completely reliable. In other words, much of the time the reader knows as little or as much as the characters themselves in the novel. It is almost as though the reader is sitting in the parlor listening to the conversations, but maybe is only able to comprehend half of what is said.Read this book slowly and carefully, and try and place yourself in the the thoughts and emotions of each of the protagonists and you'll find that your perceptions sharpen and you're able to detect the psychological nuances that influence the tale's outcome. I'm of the mind that this is a story to read and reread and continually discover new and important insights. James seems to prefer to exercise his readers and that is perhaps not altogether a bad thing.

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-01-12 01:07

    Here we are in New York City in the mid-1880's, a bit before Edith Wharton's time, but in the same social milieu. This is a kind of novel of manners, a mid-19th Century soap opera. Our author is Henry James, so be prepared for the long, convoluted, comma- and semicomma-laden sentences akin to those of Jane Austen.Yet a fascinating book. Catherine, more or less our heroine, is plain, stolid, timid, obedient and, quite frankly, a bit on the dull side. She lives in her father's house. With her mother deceased, a widowed aunt is her caretaker and companion. Catherine is in her late 20's when a suitor finally appears (a late age for that era). Her suitor would be quite a catch for a gal like Catherine, so her father, a wealthy physician, immediately recognizes (and so do we) that he's after her inheritance. Her father forbids the marriage and in that process we learn that he is vindictive, petty, tyrannical, bullying - and wait --- there's something even worse: he doesn't really even LIKE his daughter.The novel fast-forwards in the final chapters so we get to see how it all works out decades in the future. It's great writing --- it's Henry James after all. A good book for those who have a taste for the oblique references and flowery style of writing from that era.

  • Julie
    2018-12-27 19:21

    This is a re-read. Although my rating hasn't changed, I thought I'd jot down a few things that occurred to me while listening to this.This is my first experience with a Henry James audiobook, and the feeling was quite different from holding a book in one's hands and letting the eyes do the walking. For one, I found the narrator's voice a surprise: not completely an unpleasant one, but a distinct difference from the voice I heard in my head, when reading it. By this narrator's standards, Sloper is positively stentorian with an over-the-top sensibility about it all, running as an undercurrent: and so he gave me a constant image in my head of a Dastardly Do-Right caricature, twirling his moustache, and pursing his lips; Catherine came through as rather nasally and whiny, and who stopped just a hair's breadth from an unfortunate lisp; Lavinia Penniman sounded like another nasal babbler with far too much petulance; and Morris Townsend was presented as a younger Dastardly Do-Right, sans moustache and definitely twirling an ebony cane at all times, even while he slept. He also came across as positively adenoidal at times.The trouble is, I see none of these characters quite in the same light as does this narrator, so it presents a problem of interpretation. If I went by this alone, I would say Henry James was the greatest purveyor of early overly-sudsy soap operas: melodramatic, improbable, unconvincing, artificial, superficial ... the list is long. On the other hand, when I read James I have a sense of his melodrama, yes, but also of his amazing ability to paint Human Nature, with the eye of a miniaturist par excellence. His analysis of human foibles and exploits; his representation of the vagaries of the human heart and spirit; his ability to slice through eccentricities and weaknesses and frailties is really marvellous. I see too, where he overlaps with Dickens in zeroing in on the idiosyncratic; how he confronts melodrama with high art. That's who Henry James is for me.I did enjoy the "experience" of the audiobook, and I think I will seek out more -- but I'll be careful to screen the narrator next time. As to the novel itself, I find satisfaction in Catherine's ultimate awakening. I see her as a somnambulist: sleep-walking her way through her life, paying lip-service to father, aunt, young man. While she may appear to be opposing her father by staying true to her engagement, it still demands no real action on her part. She blithely follows her father around for a year whereas any young woman of heart or passion might have kicked the old man in the shins and run off with Townsend. It would have ended in ultimate heartbreak, no doubt, but at least she would have been awake and feeling something.While there is a hint of passion within her feeble attempts to encourage Townsend to commit himself, she gives up far too easily and one intuits almost a sense of relief as she gives her life up to the humdrum. Suitors are dismissed off-handedly: she shows no interest in living; only in existing. Very early on, Sloper describes her as "lacking animation" and of having no real vitality. That is the clue, for me -- the word origin points to Catherine's complaint: no life, no breath, no animus -- wherein soul is the breath of life, and Catherine's lack of it suggests she has yet to come to life, to take possession of her own soul. For most of the book, someone else owns her soul and she inertly refuses to re-possess it. (view spoiler)[It takes her twenty years to take a breath and animate herself. While in the end, she only chooses embroidery, at least she chooses something positive and creative. To have chosen Townsend would have been to have chosen death by consumption, for he would have eaten her very soul. While Sloper may have been a despicable old beast by withholding love and compassion, at the very least you could say he saved her from a fate worse than death for Catherine would have withered and died early in Townsend's grasp.(hide spoiler)]

  • Dolors
    2019-01-14 20:16

    My second book by James and I still remain unimpressed when comparing him to Lawrence, Hardy or the Brontë sisters. Even to Austen.I know he writes about different times, different places and with different aims, but even though I appreciate his correct and composed style, I miss the passionate accounts of other classic authors.In "Washington Square" the setting takes place in the late XIXth New York where we are introduced to the Sloper family, consisting basically of the well respected and intelligent Doctor Sloper, her humble daughter Catherine and a couple of her manipulative aunts. Our heroine is a dull girl, who lives under her father's wing, whose will is completely subjected by the Doctor's poor opinion of her. Dr. Sloper is always kind to her but at the same time he treats her as an inferior creature, not relying on her judgements or her opinions. He is domineering and strict. The biggest praise we hear about her is that she is "a modest and a quiet girl", meaning that she is gullible, submitted and patient. Not exactly as Hardy's Tess or Charlotte's Jane Eyre or Lawrence's Lady Chatterley. The plot is settled when a new character is introduced, a young suitor, Mr Townsend, who wins the girl affection on the spot, seeing an opportunity to get a large sum of money if he marries her.In the end, this book talks about a family conflict, as all the characters have their own interests and only the girl is earnest and innocent in her desires. She is trifled by everybody, by her own father and aunt and also by her lover. I was sorry to witness her endurance, passive self control when her future and happiness were being decided by everybody but herself.All in all, I would say that I enjoyed this story much more in retrospection than while reading it. The whole composition makes sense in the end, and I find it highly realistic, but my guts can't help but shouting out loud to condemn the way women are mistreated in this novel.I'll have to read more books by James to see if that's a "general" in all his works. I hope it's not.

  • piperitapitta
    2019-01-07 01:05

    Catherine (h)a tre facce.Catherine è di proprietà del Dottor Sloper.Catherine è il gingillo preferito di Lavinia Penniman.Catherine è l'oggetto del desiderio di Morris.Ma Catherine è anche Catherine, una ragazza dolce (scialba), remissiva (insignificante) e rispettosa (ordinaria), che è inaspettatamente tenace e caparbia, capace di tener testa a tutti e tre: l'autoritario Dottor Austin Sloper, il padre, l'arrampicatore Morris Townsend, il fidanzato, e la pettegola Mrs. Penniman, la zia.Catherine è una ricca ereditiera che trascorrerà la propria vita, dal fiore della giovinezza alla maturità, nel difficile tentativo di restare in equilibrio - tra il fidanzato che vuole sposare, il padre che la ostacola minacciando di diseredarla e la zia intrigante che per manipola per combinare le nozze - e non perdere il rispetto di sé.Mi ricorda per contrapposizione L'Eredità di Eszter di Sandor Marai: un'altra eredità, un'altra donna, un'altra storia d'amore. Catherine ed Eszter. Di Eszter sin dall'inizio, già dalle prime battute, sappiamo che uscirà sconfitta, che cederà ancora una volta alle lusinghe di quel mascalzone di Lajos; Catherine invece ci sorprenderà pagina dopo pagina, anno dopo anno, fino all'ultima scena. Le mani di Eszter, alla fine, dopo aver tanto amato, resteranno vuote. E quelle di Catherine, dopo che avrà dimostrato a se stessa di avere un suo volto, la quarta faccia, come saranno alla fine le mani di Catherine?Ho trovato molto interessante questo commento online, al quale mi sono permessa di "rubare" i tre aggettivi che lo stesso James ha usato per descrivere la percezione che gli altri hanno di Catherine, sia per l'origine della storia di Washington Square, che sarebbe il calco perfetto di una vicenda realmente accaduta e narrata dalla sorella del cacciatore di dote allo stesso James, che per l'interpretazione del titolo. Anziché muoversi sui tre lati del triangolo Catherine - Morris - dottor Sloper, James aggiunge il personaggio di Lavinia, la zia di Catherine, ottenendo di fatto un quadrato (in inglese, square). In effetti anche a me, leggendolo è apparso come una sorta di gioco dei quattro cantoni; un gioco in cui i quattro personaggi si alternano sulla scena seguendo un meccanismo talmente perfetto da ricordare quello degli orologi a carillon esposti nelle facciate di alcune chiese, come in un balletto in cui, alla fine, ciascuno ruota solo su se stesso.

  • Chrissie
    2019-01-03 21:00

    Henry James’ in-depth character portrayals are marvelous. We observe a widowed father, his daughter who will perhaps inherit a fortune, the father’s meddlesome sister who delights in melodrama and the daughter’s prospective suitor. Does he love her or is he after her money? The question becomes much more complicated than this; each of the four characters has their own history and personality traits. All becomes intertwined and inseparable. The writing is detailed, but all the details provided are pertinent. There isn’t a wasted word. If character portrayal is your cup of tea, then I highly recommend this book. The question is less what happens than coming to understand the psyches of the four characters. The audiobook is very well narrated by Lloyd James. Clear and easy to follow. Not over-dramatized. We are not meant to watch theatrics but rather to analyze James’ words. What a person does is not always what first seems apparent.

  • Cphe
    2018-12-23 19:04

    It was about the money, all about the money. Catherine Sloper a young woman torn between the wishes of her father and the suitor who said he loved Catherine, and only Catherine.Not a lot happened plot wise although there were strong undercurrents in the tug of war between Dr Sloper and Morris Townsend, Catherine's suitor.Such a quiet character Catherine that I really shouldn't have been somewhat surprised at the ending.....Read the free edition of the novel and had no issues with the quality.

  • Henry Avila
    2019-01-06 02:12

    Time the 1840's, in New York City.Catherine Sloper, a twenty-one year old woman.Daughter of a prominent and wealthy doctor.You'd think all the young men would be trying to marry her.But Catherine is plain of face and very shy.There's a good probability, that she'll remain a spinster, till the end of life. Catherine adores her father, and is intimidated in his presence.A very intelligent man, Dr.Austin Sloper is.The widower, invites his widow sister Lavinia, to stay at the Washington Square mansion,recently built by the physician.A nice quiet neighborhood,by the pretty park.Everything changes, this peaceful situation,when Catherine meets Mr.Morris Townsend,a beautiful man.As she thinks, at her cousin's engagement party. Morris dances with the tongue -tied girl.Catherine falls hard for him.But Townsend is a poor idler,who lives with his widow sister,Mrs.Montgomery and five children(medicine must have been very primitive back then). Morris pays close attention to Miss Sloper, talking to her,she doesn't say a word. The suspicious but busy father has reservations about Morris .What does he want with his daughter? It's apparent to everyone else.Poor boy wants to marry rich girl, for her money!Aunt Lavinia is a romantic,she has read too many of those type of books,and helps the young couple in their courtship.The Aunt imagines that she is the main character, in one of them novels..This silly woman causes much turmoil in the household. Mr.Sloper has to save his daughter from this evil man Townsend or he fears Morris will ruin her.Spending all the money and treating Catherine badly.But does a lonely girl have the right to take a chance on love? No matter how dubious.Is a little happiness worth all the headaches, that will inevitably follow.Or does she live the rest of her days by herself.Comfortable but bored.... Dr. Sloper takes Catherine to Europe, for a six- month Grand Tour,that turns into a year,seeing the glories of the past.But in the future, will his daughter forget her beau?

  • Kaloyana
    2019-01-07 02:25

    Взех книгата от библиотеката съвсем случайно. Името Хенри Джеймс ми бе познато, но не бях чела нищо от него и реших да пробвам. Взех я с още няколко книги, една от които "Безкраен празник" на Хемингуей. Именно там, доста изненадващо за мен, Хемингуей споменава, че Хенри Джеймс е любимият автор на жена му. Прочетох книгата веднага след това. И останах много, ама много очарована.Хенри Джеймс е уникален психолог, познавач на човешката душа с всичките й терзания, възходи и падения. Пише в един прекрасен стил - много обран, изискан, остроумен, без излишни прилагателни. Изреченията му са точни и остри като добре подострен нож. Нож, засилен в посока, в която знае, че ще може да си проправи път. Стилът е много английски, въпреки, че авторът е американец (доколкото знам е живял в Англия)."Уошингтън скуеър" е писана през 1888 година. Първоначално като видях това, си помислих, че ще е нещо ужасно старомодно като усещане и неадекватно на съвременния живот, но за радост съм сгрешила. Самото усещане, че ние хората никак не сме се променили като душевност, чувства и реакции е донякъде стряскащ, но в същото време успокояващ - сякаш има надежда да се поучим, да се съхраним.Историята включва няколко човека, всеки със своите терзания и желание. Всеки вглъбен в собствения си живот. Изключително добре изградени образи. Главната героиня е жена, която никога не е обичана от никого, включително и от баща си - най-близкият й човек (аз така го разбрах). Да, възможно е егото да надделее над любовта. Да, възможно е да предпочиташ да си прав, от колкото да си добър и състрадателен. За пореден път се убеждавам, че никой никого не иска да разбере, независимо колко му е близък. Сложна е човешката натура, сложни са човешките взаимоотношения. Но има нещо, което никога не се променя у човека, а именно променливостта към всичко. Хенри Джеймс е от малкото хора, които сякаш застава отгоре и ти казват: да, аз видях повече от теб и мога да ти го разкажа. Книгата може да се чете неколкократно.Изпитвам приятно нетърпение към следващите му книги.

  • Jason Pettus
    2018-12-29 19:05

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classic" books for the first time, then file reports on whether or not I think they deserve the labelBook #10: Washington Square, by Henry James (1880)The story in a nutshell:Agreed by most to definitely be one of his minor works, Washington Square is in reality not much more than a novella, written between major novels in the late Victorian Age as James often did throughout his career. And there's not much of a plot either, to tell you the truth; it's primarily the story of Catherine Sloper, a pleasant but rather dim-witted and plain-looking young woman living in the ritzy old-money New York neighborhood of Washington Square, along with her father who she shares a large house with, Austin Sloper, a typical middle-aged business-focused white guy who sorta laughingly condescends to all the people around him who aren't middle-aged business-focused white guys. In fact, this is the crux of the problem between the two of them, the conflict that fuels almost the entire storyline; it seems that Catherine has met a good-looking charmer named Morris Townsend who wishes to marry her, but her father deems him a simple-minded dreamer who's most likely after her money, and Catherine herself as just too much of a blockhead to be able to make a realization like this on her own, which is why he forbids the two to wed for her own good.The father and daughter then whisk off to Europe for a year, as upper-class Americans so often did at the time; but instead of Morris heroically coming to the rescue and bringing his true love back, it turns out that her father was right all along, with Morris turning out to be a kinda skeevy loser who actually was kinda after her money, and who sorta slinks off in this weasely way once she gets back into the country and declares that her allowance will be cut off if they wed. Instead of this making her grateful to her father for seeing the light, though, Catherine just ends up pissed at both of them, eventually growing into a matronly middle-aged old maid who becomes the buddy of the younger crowd in the neighborhood, but who never experiences love for herself even once.The argument for it being a classic:The argument for Washington Square being a classic is not a strong one, truthfully, and seems to most concern what the small novel is not -- it's not one of James' ponderous epics, not one of his later experimental works, but rather a simple and entertaining little story in the spirit of Jane Austen, told in about the most straight-ahead fashion possible. This is why people become fans of James in the first place, after all; he's considered by many to be the godfather of the modern realistic novel, the kinds of no-nonsense, clearly-written stories that comprise most Pulitzer winners and other academically-revered books. Certainly there are a lot of other novels in James' ouevre that are better-written, better-known, more historically important and a much better argument for being a classic, even this book's fans would say; it's just that Washington Square is one of his most accessible novels, a great way to ease yourself into his larger and denser pieces, and thus should be included in "The Canon" as well.The argument against:As mentioned, the argument against Washington Square being a classic is clearly the stronger one, and consists mostly of what we've been talking about; that it is simply too slim and obscure to be considered a classic, certainly a good beginning for people new to James' work but definitely not something to be held up against early-career trans-Atlantic sagas as The Portrait of a Lady and The Bostonians, nor the proto-Modernist experimental stylings of such late-career novels as The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl. It may be a good introduction to James, critics argue, but that comes with a price; it is also a frothily light novel, its plot so wispy as to almost not exist, and not something that will give you a good idea of why James fans are so nuts for his work in the first place.My verdict:So I have to confess, this was the very first book of James that I've ever tackled, and I picked it deliberately because I was a little intimidated by his larger and more well-known ones; James has a certain reputation, after all, especially among academic intellectuals who enjoy thick and challenging books, and I've also heard that his larger novels can sometimes get extremely bogged down in their middles. Ah, but like everyone else, I've discovered the problem to starting with a classic author's lighter and less-important work, which is the same thing mentioned in the criticisms above; that you just really can't get a sense from work like that about why people love that author so much to begin with, of why their work got so famous and respected in the first place. Washington Square comes and goes with the reader barely noticing; just when you think the story's about to get ratcheted up and interesting, suddenly it's over, and you realize that the entire point was to provide not much more than a trifling and amusing afternoon of diversion*. It was decent enough for what it was, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking out the 1997 movie adaptation with Jennifer Jason Leigh, but I certainly can't say that I "know" James' work in any kind of significant way because of reading it, nor can I in good conscience declare Washington Square a classic.Is it a classic? No*And by the way, some final proof of just how lightweight this novel is -- James himself, when doing a retrospective of his ouevre late in life and putting together the revised 24-volume "New York Edition" of his work, actually left Washington Square out on purpose, reportedly because he couldn't even read through it again as an older man, disgusted as he was with the frivolity of the story. When the author himself is disgusted with one of his own books, it's usually not a great sign that it'll be making the canon list anytime soon.

  • Siti
    2019-01-05 03:13

    Romanzo appartenente alla prima fase della narrativa jamesiana, pubblicato per la prima volta in Inghilterra nel 1880, se si sono già letti i suoi romanzi brevi più belli “Giro di vite” (1898), “La bestia nella giungla” (1903) o il romanzo lungo “Le ali della colomba”(1902) o ancora il più noto “Ritratto di signora - coevo a Washington Square - si rimarrà inizialmente sorpresi dalla narrazione fluida, dalla trama spicciola, da un romanzo che apparentemente sembra abbastanza sempliciotto. Eppure non nego che mi è piaciuto e come al solito sono stata in balia dei capricci jamesiani. Si legge, il lieve romanzo, ancora una volta sulla scia di una lunga prospettiva chiedendosi che cosa accadrà mai, quale sarà il punto di volta, dove lo si troverà inaspettatamente, e ancora quali sviluppi conosceranno i personaggi, quali evoluzioni, perché sì un punto di volta ci dovrà pur essere. Ed eccoci di nuovo caduti nell’inganno! Nessuna evoluzione, nessun importante smottamento, nessuna rivoluzione, nessuna!! Eppure si arriva alla fine piacevolmente intrattenuti da una banalità che ha il fascino di suscitare quei grandi interrogativi che portano ad andare un po’ sopra le righe per chiedersi semplicemente: come viviamo, che significato attribuiamo agli eventi che ci capitano, come reputiamo di essere in grado di essere noi medesimi gli artefici del nostro destino, e ancora come viviamo il nostro temperamento personale, ne abbiamo uno effettivamente marcato e marcante?Il romanzo è ambientato in America, New York, in una abitazione borghese sita in Washington Square, il fulcro di tutti gli eventi, la metafora dell’immobilismo più assoluto della povera protagonista Catherine. È la figlia poco apprezzata del Dottor Sloper, noto negli ambienti per rigore, onestà e fine intelletto, quello che lamenta mancare alla figlia, l’unica rimastogli dopo la morte prematura di un figlio e della moglie, emblematico il fatto che lui così capace non sia riuscito a strapparli dalla morte. Salvo due brevi digressioni, funzionali all’impianto narrativo e caratteristiche della prosa jamesiana, ambientante in Europa, la scena è fissa su Catherine e sulla dimora dove tutto accade, anche quando lei non è presente perché momentaneamente in viaggio col padre. La casa è luogo di incontro con un suo pretendente il quale si rivela fin da subito per i suoi intenti meschini anelanti al miraggio del soldo facile, quello che il matrimonio con quella giovane bruttina e insignificante potrebbe garantirgli. L’accorto Dottor Sloper fiuta immediatamente il pericolo e intralcia le possibili nozze. La dimora è inoltre il luogo dove l’antagonista Morris si troverà a casa proprio in assenza del padrone grazie alla benevolenza della sorella, si appropria degli ambienti a lui più cari, tenta la sostituzione, attende il rientro e cerca di convincere la giovane Catherine del suo amore... Insomma tutta la narrazione è un tira e molla fra padre e figlia e pretendente, mai uno scontro aperto, mai una parola di più, tutto è giocato sul filo della psicologia più fine con una ragazza che riuscirà a giocare la sua partita senza perdere un colpo seppur perdendola.Consigliato perché piacevole, interessante, suscitatore di interrogativi e insolitamente jamesiano.

  • Gitte
    2019-01-03 19:02

    A lovely classic about a young girl trapped between her lover and her spiteful father.Catherine Sloper, a somewhat plain young girl, falls in love with a dashing but poor young man, Morris Townsend. Catherine's father does not support their union (in fact he doesn't support anything when it comes to Catherine), claiming that Morris is a gold-digger with no profession. Threatening to disinherit Catherine if she marries Morris, she is torn between following her heart and her father's wishes.I didn't find any of the characters in Washington Square likeable. Catherine's father was downright cruel and insensitive, and could never imagine that anyone would actually be in love with his daughter. He never cared that much for Catherine, calling her plain and simple, and he manipulates and controls everyone around him. I kept hoping that Catherine would rebel against him, but she's a very devoted and good-hearted girl who will do anything to please her father.He had moments of irritation at having produced a commonplace child, and he even went so far at times as to take a certain satisfaction in the thought that his wife had not lived to find her out.Despite this being a very short book, it took me ages to finish. There's something demotivating about picking up a book where you know you'll be displeased by every single character. Poor Catherine never stood a chance. Apart from her tyrant father who wishes to control her, she's got a bored aunt who lives vicariously through Catherine and her love affair, and keeps sticking her nose in her business. That being said, it was an enjoyable read. Henry James' writing really is superb, and the story was interesting and surprising in spite of the classic theme of torn devotion. It kept me guessing until the very end - and the end was brilliant by the way.It was the way a young man might talk in a novel; or better still, in a play, on the stage, close before the footlights, looking at the audience, and with everyone looking at him, so that you wondered at his presence of mind.My blog: The Bookworm's Closet

  • Paul
    2019-01-14 19:09

    An early work by Henry James (1880) and rather brief, The plot is straightforward. Dr Sloper lives with his daughter Catherine and hus widowed sister Mrs Penniman. They live in Washington Square and Sr Sloper is reasonably well off and Catherine also has some money left by her mother. Dr Sloper (and the narrator) describe Catherine as rather plain and unitelligent. Into this family scene enters Morris Townsend, a very handsome and penniless young man who woos Catherine (and charms Mrs Penniman) and wins her heart. Her father is implacably opposed to the match and makes his feelings clear both to Morris and Catherine. The romance plays out and ends and pretty much everyone remains unhappy. Being by James, it is, of course well written, but apparently James disliked it. I am sure that James read Trollope and when I first noted the names of the main characters, Dr and Miss Sloper, I immediately thought of Slope in Barchester Towers. There seems to be no particular link, though both are cruel and sure of the own rightness, but the names are strikingly similar. James is said to have based it on a true story. The men are irredeemably awful, but the women are not much better for putting up with them.I have a vague recollection of Albert Finney being in the film as Dr Sloper and there has even been an opera I think. Anyway, I enjoyed it. a good book for a dyed in the wool cynic to read; I told you it would end in tears!!