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James, Henry - Novels 1871–1880

Henry James

Novels 1871–1880

Watch and Ward Roderick HudsonThe AmericanThe Europeans Confidence

"[W]hat a wholly delightful book! All the themes that are to dominate James's work are already there—the clash of innocence and experience, the exquisite moral sensibility, the comedy of circumstance—but deployed with an unassuming wit, humor, and lightness of touch that recalls Jane Austen. A Henry James not yet aware of the importance of being Henry James is a charming spectacle indeed."
—The Weekly (Seattle)
Overview  |  Note on the Texts  |  Reviews  |  Table of Contents

Presented in this volume of Henry James's works are early texts of his first five novels--Watch and Ward (1871), Roderick Hudson (1875), The American (1877), The Europeans (1878), and Confidence (1880). The first four were published in serial form in the Atlantic Monthly, where James's good friend William Dean Howells was editor; the last was published in Scribner's Monthly. With the exception of Watch and Ward, the texts printed here are those of the first American book editions, all published by the Boston firm of J. R. Osgood (later Houghton, Osgood and Company), and issued within a month or two of the final installments of the serial versions. Though James later made revisions in some of these novels, those revisions were made by a more experienced and sophisticated writer. This volume reprints the works of a young Henry James just beginning his long and productive career. The earlier versions offer the best opportunity to recapture that beginning.

James began to write his first novel, Watch and Ward, in 1870, after his return to America from travel abroad. It appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in five installments from August through December of 1871 (XXVIII, 232-246, 320-339, 415-431, 577-586, 689-710). Seven years later, in May 1878, Houghton, Osgood and Company of Boston published the book version in a first printing of 1000 copies with a note added by Henry James explaining that it "has been minutely revised, and has received many verbal alterations." More than 800 revisions were made in the text at this time by an older James who had since published two major novels and numerous short stories. The edition went through at least six reprintings. No other edition was published in Henry James's lifetime. This volume reprints the serial version in order to present the work in its original form.

Roderick Hudson, James's second novel, exists in four different versions, all prepared by James at different times in his life. The first is the Atlantic Monthly serial edition, published in twelve installments, January through December 1875, each of which makes up a chapter with separate title. According to James, in his Preface to the New York Edition, the novel was not yet complete when the first serial installment appeared. In November 1875, before the final installment, J. R. Osgood ("Late Ticknor & Fields, Fields, Osgood & Co.") brought out the first American book edition. The differences between the serial and book editions are relatively minor. The last and longest serial chapter was made into two chapters in the book. The new chapter title, "The Princess Casamassima," was given to chapter XII, and chapter XIII retained the former title, "Switzerland"; all other chapter titles remained the same. James never again used chapter titles in any of his fiction. A few changes in wording and punctuation were also made, a sampling of which is given in the Notes to this volume. Four years later, in June 1879, Macmillan and Company published the three-volume, first English edition, to which James appended the following note: "'Roderick Hudson' was originally published in Boston, in 1875. It has now been minutely revised, and has received a large number of verbal alterations. Several passages have been rewritten." The revisions were extensive. Chapter titles were eliminated; the thirteen chapters in the American edition were each divided in two, giving the book twenty-six chapters; several long passages were deleted or radically revised (see sampling in the Notes); and wording and punctuation were changed throughout, though sometimes only to bring the text into agreement with current British usage. James preferred this version of the text, and Houghton, Mifflin imported sheets from Macmillan and Company in 1882 to bind under their own imprint. James made even more extensive revisions in the text in 1907 for the New York Edition, making this final version a very different book from the one which first appeared in 1875. This volume reprints the first American book edition of 1875 because its revisions were made soon after composition and best represent Henry James at that time.

Henry James wrote most of The American, his third novel, during his stay in Paris in 1875-76. The twelve serial installments appeared in the Atlantic Monthly from June 1876 through May 1877; the first book edition was issued by J. R. Osgood in May 1877. Copies of the Osgood edition were exported for the English market soon after. In December 1877, Ward, Lock and Co. published a pirated edition, carelessly printed, which omitted large portions of the text. James authorized Bernard Tauchnitz to issue a two-volume edition (using the American Osgood edition as copy) in his continental series, "Collection of British Authors," in 1878. An authorized English edition was brought out by Macmillan and Company in March 1879 (this edition later served as copy for the collected novels and tales published by Macmillan in 1883). The American was completely revised for the New York Edition published by Scribner's in 1907. Henry James did not read proofs for the serial version since there was not enough time to send them back and forth across the ocean. In a letter dated December 18 (1876) to William Dean Howells, then editor of Atlantic Monthly, he wrote: "I received a few days since a letter from my brother William, in which he speaks of some phrases (on Newman's part) as being so shocking as to make the 'reader's flesh creep.' Two or three that he quotes are indeed infelicitous, as I perceive as soon as my attention is called to them. He mentioned having persuaded you to omit one or two of the same sort. I am very glad you have done so, and would give you carte blanche. It is all along of my not seeing a proof. . . ." A week later, in a letter to his mother, James wrote: "The story, as it stands, is full of things I should have altered; but I think none of them are so inalterable but that I shall be easily able in preparing the volume, to remove effectually, by a few verbal corrections, that Newmanesque taint on which William dwells."

It is impossible to know what alterations were made in the serial version of the novel since no manuscript or printer's copy exists, but a collation of the serial version with the first book edition reveals that James was able to make revisions in the text published by Osgood. Hundreds of verbal changes occur throughout the text, some of them perhaps influenced by William's objection--for example, a passage in the serial version of chapter XVI, in which Newman refers to Madame de Cintrıı as "a high class of goods" and calls her "the best thing in the market," was cut from the book version. Other changes reflect James's desire to improve the style or add more precision. Sentences were tightened, unnecessary words were eliminated, words were exchanged for other words (for example, "heavy" was changed to "gloomy," "excesses" to "extravagance," "perfectly" to "quite," "could not come to pass in a moment" to "was an operation that was necessarily gradual," "greeting" to "aspect," "noble" to "fine" or "grand"), and street and place names were changed. It is not known what copy James used to make these changes. He could have used tear-sheets from the Atlantic Monthly for some of them, and, because he had sent the final installment to the Atlantic Monthly by late January or early February of 1877, Osgood or Howells might have been able to send him proof sheets for the final chapters. At any rate, James made extensive revisions throughout the text, including the last two chapters, between the serial appearance of the novel and its publication in book form. When the American and English editions are compared, however, the case is very different. Few verbal changes occur (examples are given in the Notes), and the differences in punctuation seem to be more a matter of house-styling than authorial revision. In fact, except for the few changes mentioned above, James does not seem to have done much to the English edition. Therefore, this volume reprints the first American book edition of 1877 because it seems most clearly representative of Henry James at the time of its composition.

The Europeans is the first novel by James for which most of the original manuscript is known to survive. (A facsimile of all but the last three chapters of the manuscript was published by Howard Fertig, New York, in 1979, with an introduction by Leon Edel.) The novel was serialized in the Atlantic Monthly in four installments between July and October 1878. It was first published in book form on September 18 of the same year, in a two-volume edition by Macmillan and Co. of London. Less than four weeks later, on October 12, 1878, an American edition (in one volume) was issued by Houghton, Osgood and Company in Boston. The Europeans was included as Volume IX of the 1883 Macmillan collected edition, but it was not included in Scribner's later New York Edition.

Many minor revisions were made in The Europeans between its serial publication and its English and American book editions, but the American edition is in fact closer to the manuscript in punctuation, spelling, and wording, and is unmarred, as it were, by English conventions of typography and usage. A collation of chapters I and VII of the two book editions with the facsimile of the manuscript reveals that, in fifteen cases of differing punctuation between the two editions, the Osgood text accurately reflects the manuscript eleven times, reproduces James's spelling seven of eight times, and, in eleven cases of different wording, is faithful to James's manuscript eight times. While the Osgood edition contained some errors (for example, printing "horse-thief" for the manuscript's "house-thief"), the Macmillan edition made changes more freely, such as altering the description of the sky after a winter storm from "violent blue" to "violet blue," apparently because an incredulous English compositor was unfamiliar with New England weather. The Osgood edition supplies the text reprinted here, and a sampling of the variants between this and the Macmillan edition is given in the Notes.

James's fifth novel, Confidence, poses the most complicated--and provocative--textual problem of any of the novels presented in this volume. It is the only novel for which the complete manuscript is known to survive. (The manuscripts of The Princess Casamassima and The Europeans are incomplete.) The germ of the tale and original plans for its development constitute the first entry in James's surviving Notebooks. Confidence first appeared serially in Scribner's Monthly (from August 1879 through January 1880), a magazine James thoroughly disliked but which paid high rates. He consequently urged family and friends to await its revised version in book form. To protect his copyright, James published it first in England in December 1879 (in two volumes) under the imprint of Chatto & Windus, who had offered better terms for the work than Macmillan. The American edition, again published by Houghton, Osgood and Company, appeared two months later, in February 1880. The English text was republished by Chatto & Windus in one volume in October 1880 and republished again in September 1882. Confidence, like The Europeans, was collected in Macmillan's uniform edition, as Volume X, but was not included in the New York Edition. In 1891, with James's permission, Houghton, Mifflin of Boston republished the original American text.

Both the English and American texts differ substantially from the serial, and each also differs widely from the other in punctuation and wording. The English edition, for example, contains thirty-one chapters, the American only thirty. The number and range of variants make it unlikely that they are compositorial; in fact, a collation of the two editions suggests that James deliberately directed one version to an English audience and the other to an American one. He specifically "authorized" both editions, which complicates the decision of which edition to present in this volume.

Unpublished letters in the files of Chatto & Windus show that James corrected tear-sheets from the Scribner's serial version for the English edition and that he participated in the redivision of the chapters in order to spread the novel into two volumes. It appears likely that he did the same for the American edition, probably at a slightly earlier date. The additional chapter in the English edition, for example, is simply a redivision of chapter X in the American edition, suggesting that its chapters had already been redivided from the serial chapters sometime earlier. Examination of the manuscript in the James collection of the Harvard Library does not supply proof of when or how James revised the manuscript for serial publication. He may, however, have revised proofs for at least some of the serial installments and returned them to Scribner's if, as published letters to his mother and to Howells indicate, he had indeed sent half of his manuscript to the journal by May 14 and the other half by June 14 or 15.

The nature of the variants themselves, however, constitutes the most persuasive evidence of James' deliberate slanting of the two editions. For example, the word couturiııre in the manuscript, referring to the person with whom Blanche Evers will confer soon after her arrival in Paris, is replaced by "man-milliner" in both the serial and the Osgood editions. In the English edition, however, it appears as "tailor." The words "insipid drivel" in both the serial and Osgood editions become, in the English edition, "stupid stuff." On the other hand, the manuscript phrase "those vague dissatisfactions" is retained in the English edition but changed to "that chronic chagrin" in the American edition. And in still another kind of variant, the word "outrageous" in the serial and Osgood editions appears as "exorbitant" in the English version.

This sampling of variants is perhaps sufficient to suggest the complexity of the differences between manuscript, serial, American, and English editions. But the crucial differences are those between the two book editions that reveal word choices slanted toward a British audience in one edition and toward an American one in the other. A brief sampling of such examples--"awfully" in the American edition is "fearfully" in the English one; "a couple of" is "a brace of"; "had no vulgar resentment" is "cared in no small way"; "whence he had drawn the ability for so remarkable a feat" is "how the deuce he had managed it"; "bosky darkness" is "fragrant dusk" (clearly wrong in context); "El Dorado" is "a hidden treasure"; "I stuck it to the end" is "I saw it through"; "a man of oddities" is "an eccentric man"; "simply hit upon" is "simply conceived"--shows the American edition to be the more appropriate choice for this edition of the early novels of Henry James. The Houghton, Osgood edition was authorized by James to be reprinted in America, it is the edition closest to the serial and manuscript versions, and it may well be the most self-consciously "American" edition of any of these early novels--a not inappropriate criterion for a Henry James who was himself, at that time, facing the personal problem of national identity. This volume reprints the text of Confidence from the Osgood (American) edition, and a sampling of variants, from manuscript, serial, and British editions, is given in the Notes.

The standards for American English continue to fluctuate and in some ways were different in earlier periods from what they are now. In nineteenth-century writings, for example, a word might be spelled in more than one way, even in the same work. Commas could be used expressively to suggest the movements of voice, and capitals were sometimes meant to give significances to a word beyond those it might have in its uncapitalized form. Since modernization would remove such effects, this volume has preserved the spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and wording of the editions reprinted here. The present edition is concerned only with representing the texts of these editions; it does not attempt to reproduce features of their typographic design--such as the display capitalization of chapter openings. Open contractions are retained when they appear in the original editions. Some changes, however, have been made. James's recurrent complaints of printer's errors were certainly justified, and obvious typographical errors have been corrected for this edition.

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