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James, Henry - Novels 1881–1886

Henry James

Novels 1881–1886

Washington Square • The Portrait of A Lady • The Bostonians

"James beginning to realize the height of his powers."
—Wall Street Journal
Overview  |  Note on the Texts  |  Reviews  |  Table of Contents

This volume of the novels of Henry James presents the texts of three novels: Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), and The Bostonians (1886). All of these novels appeared first in serial form; two of them ran concurrently in England and the United States. Each appeared in book form on both sides of the Atlantic, following the conclusion of the serial appearance by only a few weeks. The Portrait of a Lady was later included in the New York Edition of 1907-09.

James's journal entry of February 21, 1879, recounting a story told him the evening before by Fanny Kemble, contains the germ of the story of Washington Square. The composition of the novel, however, waited at least until September 1879, when he had finished both Confidence and his "little book" on Hawthorne. According to a letter to his father, the novel was finished by March 1880, when he left England for Italy, intending to work on The Portrait of a Lady. James arranged, probably as early as July 1879, to have the work serialized in England in Cornhill Magazine, edited by Leslie Stephen. For the first time in his career, he also arranged for a simultaneous American serialization. His contract with Harper & Brothers (signed on May 19, 1880) providing for American book publication included a hand-written codicil specifying the appearance of the work in Harper's New Monthly Magazine.

Washington Square began in Cornhill Magazine in June and ran through six issues, until November 1880. The text was set from manuscript supplied by James; this manuscript is not known to survive. George du Maurier prepared twelve illustrations to accompany the text, but James was not involved with these illustrations and in general disapproved of any illustrations in his novels. Two sets of proofs were provided by Cornhill Magazine and proofread by James, who sent one set back to Cornhill and one set to Harper's New Monthly Magazine in New York, where the novel was serialized from July through December of 1880. Harper & Brothers published its first book edition with a few further corrections on December 1, 1880 (although the title page bears the imprint 1881). This edition reprinted the Du Maurier illustrations from the Cornhill Magazine. James supervised the book's publication in England, where it was issued by Macmillan & Co. on January 26, 1881, in two volumes, the second also containing the stories "The Pension Beaurepas" and "A Bundle of Letters." Macmillan & Co. reprinted the novel in August 1881, in one volume, and again in 1889, but James was not involved in the preparation of either of these printings.

All the texts of Washington Square therefore derive from the one first published in Cornhill Magazine, and all of them show differences in house-style editing. James did, however, make about thirty significant alterations in the periodical text for the Macmillan edition, among them changing "queer corners" to "far-away lands" at 20.10; "talkative guest" to "anecdotical idler" at 39.27; "quiet" to "formally submissive" at 81.4; "sadly" to "wearily" at 107.31; "with her unexploded bomb in her hands" to "primed, to repletion, with her apology, but unable to bring it to light" at 149.31-32; "passion" to "passive grief" at 155.2; "grief" to "misery" at 155.5; and "some solemnity" to "much expression" at 164.9-10. Because of these revisions, the edition by Macmillan & Co. is the best of the available texts and is the one reprinted here.

James wrote to William Dean Howells, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, in August 1879 to propose publishing his longer novel, The Portrait of a Lady, in the Atlantic Monthly simultaneously with its publication in England in Macmillan's Magazine. Howells accepted this arrangement in September 1879, and the novel was scheduled to begin in the July 1880 issues of the two magazines, but was delayed several months in both cases. James wrote to his father in March 1880 that he was "taking a holiday, pure and simple--before settling down to the daily evolutions of my 'big' novel." He began to write the novel in Florence in April 1880, reworking "an old beginning made long ago." By arrangement with Macmillan & Co., James sent the manuscript in installments to Clay and Taylor, the publisher's printer. This manuscript is not known to survive. The printer sent two sets of proofs back to James, who revised and corrected them and returned one set to Macmillan's Magazine and the other to the Atlantic Monthly (the first installment went to Howells July 20, 1880). The Portrait of a Lady appeared in Macmillan's Magazine from October 1880 through November 1881 and in the Atlantic Monthly from November 1880 through December 1881. James continued to correct and forward proofs to both periodicals while staying in France and Italy from March through June of 1881.

Upon his return to London, James made an agreement with Houghton, Mifflin and Company to publish an American edition and set about revising sheets from Macmillan's Magazine. The revisions between periodical and book versions are not numerous; some are merely corrections of typographical errors, and others are stylistic. Examples of these revisions are his changing "thirteenth year" to "eleventh year" at 224.3; "forces, the most important being an excitable pride and a restless conscience," to simply "forces" at 224.38; "Her head was full of premature convictions and unproportioned images," to "Her thoughts were a tangle of vague outlines," at 241.7-8; and "if a certain impulse should be stirred" (in Macmillan's) or "if a certain impulse were stirred" (in the Atlantic) to "if a certain light should dawn" at 244.5.

Type was set for Macmillan & Co. by Clay and Taylor, and molds for plates were sent to Houghton, Mifflin and Company in Boston, who published a one-volume first printing in October 1881 (with a title-page date of 1882). Therefore, the text of the first American book printing, having been set in England, contains British spelling and usage. Clay and Taylor then added three-point leading to the standing type and rebroke lines in order to make the novel fill three volumes. The first English book edition, printed directly from this re-leaded type, was published by Macmillan & Co. on November 8, 1881. It was not until twenty-seven years later that James extensively revised The Portrait of a Lady for the New York Edition (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908), using the Houghton, Mifflin and Company version, making this final version a very different book from the one that first appeared in 1881. The present volume reprints the 1881 text of Houghton, Mifflin and Company, because its revisions were made soon after composition, and because it represents James's earlier intentions better than the periodical texts.

James first outlined the plot of The Bostonians in a letter of April 8, 1883, to his American publisher James R. Osgood, who bought a five-year contract for serial and book publication rights (English and American) for $4,000, to be paid upon completion of the manuscript. Osgood in turn sold the serial rights to the Century Magazine. James returned to England from America in September 1883, but did not begin writing the novel at once, having committed himself to finishing a number of short stories first. After meeting this commitment he returned to the novel. He sent typewritten copy (he had begun using a public typist soon after his return to London) of the first installment to Richard Watson Gilder at the Century Magazine before October 1, 1884. The novel eventually filled thirteen installments in the Century, from February 1885 through February 1886. Neither James's manuscript nor the typescript is known to survive. In late April 1885, James wrote to Osgood that he had "sent to the Century all the copy for the Bostonians . . . with the exception of 70 or 80 pages in the total ms. of 950." On May 5, 1885, however, he learned that James R. Osgood and Company had failed, still owing him all the money for The Bostonians and royalties on his other volumes. After first investigating the possibility of renegotiating the contract with Osgood's successor, Benjamin Ticknor, James sold the work to his English publisher, Macmillan & Co., for an advance of ıı500 ($2500) against a fifteen percent royalty for English and American book publication.

James's revisions for the book publication of The Bostonians were extensive. There had been no opportunity to correct proofs for the Century Magazine, and he had complained of its "vile misprints." He corrected most of them, and made other revisions as well. Some examples of these changes are: at 805.19, "and radicals" was changed to "and roaring radicals"; at 809.27, the sentence "It will be seen that she, at least, did not wish to be personal." was deleted following "individuals."; at 816.26, "single" was corrected to "signal"; at 821.1, "I guess" was changed to "I reckon"; at 837.6, "for two years" was changed to "for nearly a year"; and at 840.36, "pathology" was changed to "physiology."

Macmillan & Co. published The Bostonians on February 15, 1886, in London, in an impression of 500 three-volume sets. Macmillan then removed the leading from the standing type, produced a one-volume impression of 5,000 copies, and shipped 3,000 of them to New York, where the book was published on March 19, 1886. The Bostonians was not revised again and was not included in the later New York Edition. Since James was not involved in the production of the one-volume printing, the original three-volume English printing, published by Macmillan & Co., furnishes the last text of The Bostonians that James revised, and it provides the text reprinted in this volume.

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. 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.

Some changes, however, have been made. Typographical errors, many of them due to imperfect plates, have been corrected.

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