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Henry James Research Papers

Henry James research papers can focus on any number of his writings or novels. As one of America's great literary geniuses, James is an intereseting topic of research for anyone looking to explicate his work.

Henry James, born in 1843 in Washington Place, New York, was a writer whose literary gifts were obvious. Using his natural talents in literature, psychology and philosophy, Henry James wrote the following:

  • 20 novels
    • The Turn of the Screw
    • The Portrait of a Lady
    • Daisy Miller
    • Washington Square
    • The Wings of the Dove
    • The American
    • and many more...
  • 112 storiesHenry James
    • The Figure in the Carpet
    • The Beast in the Jungle
    • In the Cage
    • The Pupil
    • The Aspern Papers
  • 12 plays
    • Guy Domville
  • A number of literary criticisms

James came from a family influential in the world of writing, as his father, Henry James, Sr., was a well-known intellectual in the 1800s. With his father’s friends (Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne) James’ love for writing was nurtured and given room to grow. Furthermore, James had the privilege of writing for love of the work and not for money, as his grandfather had provided wealth that allowed James and his relatives social comfort and affluence. James died in 1916.

Henry James was born an American but died a European with a unique vantage point on the two societies.  His story, The American, which appeared first in the Atlantic Monthly as a serial starting in June 1876, provides much insight into the lives of both societies at this time in history by a skillful writer and excellent student of the human spirit.  The characters, settings, themes and plot of this story although fiction are authentic because of the extensive travel that the author did in both societies.  Henry James creates intricate character studies that show human feelings, dreams and actions that give a reader a window into the human spirit with a backdrop of different cultures.  The story also provides insight into the opinions of the author about the different cultures that he knew so well.

The American made its first appearance in the The Atlantic Monthly in June 1875 and continued monthly until May 1876. As it began appearing in The Atlantic Monthly, it was not completely written, according to James, in his Preface to The American: “It started on its course while much was still unwritten, and there again come back to me... what would happen if anything should happen.” In the Preface James explained that the fact that his work was yet unfinished was a point of great apprehension, though “in some degree the habit of confidence that one would pull through.”  This Preface, which was added to the novel in its New York edition, was James’ chance, as a critic, to analyze his work while also reflecting upon the process he took in writing it.

The American by Henry James is a fascinating picture of an American in Europe which provides a contrast between the protagonist and the cultures and people he encounters in his travels.  Henry James creates characters from the two different societies which give a fascinating comparison of the European and American cultures during his lifetime.  The author has a keen understanding of the human spirit and the two societies depicted in his story.  He demonstrates the bonds these characters have as human beings and the differences they have developed through their different cultures.

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