In 1914, Henry James began work on a major novel about the immense new fortunes of America’s Gilded Age. After an absence of more than twenty years, James had returned for a visit to his native country; what he found there filled him with profound dismay. In The Ivory Tower, his last book, the characteristic pattern underlying so much of his fiction—in which American “innocence” is transformed by its encounter with European “experience”—receives a new twist: raised abroad, the hero comes home to America to confront, as James puts it, “the black and merciless things that are behind the great possessions.”
James died in 1916 with the first three books of The Ivory Tower completed. He also left behind a “treatment,” in which he charted the further progress of his story. This fascinating scenario, one of only two to survive among James’s papers, is also published here together with a striking critical essay by Ezra Pound.
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Henry James (1843–1916), the younger brother of the psychologist William James and one of the greatest of American writers, was born in New York but lived for most of his life in England. Among the best known of his many stories and novels are The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, and The Wings of the Dove. In addition to The New York Stories of Henry James, New York Review Classics has published several long-unavailable James novels: The Other House, The Outcry, and The Ivory Tower.
Alan Hollinghurst was born in 1954 in Gloucestershire, England, and attended Magdalen College, Oxford. He is the author of the novels The Swimming-Pool Library, The Folding Star (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Spell, The Line of Beauty, as well as of a translation of the play Bajazet by Racine. A former staff member at The Times Literary Supplement, Hollinghurst is a frequent contributor to that and other publications, including The Guardian. Hollinghurst’s fourth novel, The Line of Beauty, won the Man Booker Prize in 2004. He lives in London.
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