Washington Square (Oxford World's Classics)
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One of the most instantly appealing of James's early masterpieces, Washington Square is a tale of a trapped daughter and domineering father, a quiet tragedy of money and love and innocence betrayed. Catherine Sloper, heiress to a fortune, attracts the attention of a good-looking but penniless young man, Morris Townsend, but her father is convinced that his motives are merely mercenary. He will not consent to the marriage, regardless of the cost to his daughter. Out of this classic confrontation Henry James fashioned one of his most deftly searching shorter fictions, a tale of great depth of meaning and understanding. First published in 1880 but set some forty years earlier in a pre-Civil War New York, the novel reflects ironically on the restricted world in which its heroine is marooned. In his excellent introduction Adrian Poole reflects on the book's gestation and influences, the significance of place, and the insight with which the four principal players are drawn. The book also includes an up-to-date bibliography, illuminating notes, and a discussion of stage and film adaptations of the story.
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for he had contemplated the fact in all its lights. “Austin married a wife with money—why shouldn’t you?” “Ah, but your brother was a doctor,” Morris objected. “Well, all young men can’t be doctors.” “I should think it an extremely loathsome profession,” said Morris, with an air of intellectual independence; then, in a moment, he went on rather inconsequently. “Do you suppose there is a will already made in Catherine’s favor?” “I suppose so—even doctors must die; and perhaps a little in
night’s tears had completely vanished from Catherine’s eyes. She had a most impracticable physique. “What effect do you expect to have upon your father,” her aunt demanded, “if you come plumping down, without a vestige of any sort of feeling, as if nothing in the world had happened?” “He would not like me to lie in bed,” said Catherine, simply. “All the more reason for your doing it. How else do you expect to move him?” Catherine thought a little. “I don’t know how; but not in that way. I wish
the monuments of Italy. She was always her father’s docile and reasonable associate—going through their sight-seeing in deferential silence, never complaining of fatigue, always ready to start at the hour he had appointed overnight, making no foolish criticisms, and indulging in no refinements of appreciation. “She is about as intelligent as the bundle of shawls,” the doctor said, her main superiority being that, while the bundle of shawls sometimes got lost, or tumbled out of the carriage,
this attempt, but he could promise her that, whatever his failure, he would never again interpose between her generous heart and her brilliant prospects and filial duties. He closed with an intimation that his professional pursuits might compel him to travel for some months, and with the hope that when they should each have accommodated themselves to what was sternly involved in their respective positions—even should this result not be reached for years—they should meet as friends, as fellow
girls. Mr. Macalister, the widower, had desired to make a marriage of reason, and had chosen Catherine for what he supposed to be her latent matronly qualities; but John Ludlow, who was a year the girl’s junior, and spoken of always as a young man who might have his “pick,” was seriously in love with her. Catherine, however, would never look at him; she made it plain to him that she thought he came to see her too often. He afterward consoled himself, and married a very different person, little