The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady Having travelled from her native New York to London to meet her relatives Isabel Archer a young independently minded young woman rejects the marriage proposals of two suitors in her determination

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  • Title: The Portrait of a Lady
  • Author: Henry James
  • ISBN: 9781847495754
  • Page: 486
  • Format: Paperback
  • Having travelled from her native New York to London to meet her relatives, Isabel Archer, a young, independently minded young woman, rejects the marriage proposals of two suitors in her determination to stay in control of her destiny When she suddenly comes into a large legacy, Isabel believes that this windfall will finally ensure the freedom that she yearns for and embaHaving travelled from her native New York to London to meet her relatives, Isabel Archer, a young, independently minded young woman, rejects the marriage proposals of two suitors in her determination to stay in control of her destiny When she suddenly comes into a large legacy, Isabel believes that this windfall will finally ensure the freedom that she yearns for and embarks on an exhilarating journey through France and Italy, only to find her endeavours thwarted by the sinister plotting of some of her acquaintances.Considered by many to be Henry James s finest novel, The Portrait of a Lady is a subtle examination of Victorian society and power relations, providing a groundbreaking psychological study of its protagonist This volume is based on the authoritative New York Edition, and includes the author s seminal preface.

    One thought on “The Portrait of a Lady”

    1. *SPOILER ALERT* (Read at your own risk)My first time to read a book by Henry James.Reading The Portrait of a Lady, said to be his finest novel, is like getting your workout at a gym.After a day’s work you are tired. You are already zapped of energy. You feel like going to a bar and have a couple of beer listening to a funky live band or the crooning of a lovely young lady. Or you want to go to a nearby mall and sit in the comfort of a dark movie house. Probably sleep to rest for a couple of ho [...]

    2. 10 Things I Love About Henry James’s The Portrait Of A Lady1. Isabel ArcherThe “lady” in the title. Beautiful, young, headstrong and spirited, the American woman visits her wealthy relatives in England, rejects marriage proposals by two worthy suitors, inherits a fortune and then is manipulated into marrying one of the most odious creatures on the planet, Gilbert Osmond. She’s utterly fascinating, and if I were back in university, I imagine having long conversations and arguments about h [...]

    3. For my dear friend Jeffrey Keeten: I would not have read it if it were not for you. Thanks! Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady touched me deeply. Since I finished this novel a few days ago, I could not seem to stop thinking about it as I tried to organize my feelings. That I was mesmerized by it, there is no doubt. So much that the search for its understanding has occupied practically all my free moments. And to fully grasp it I could not do without Henry James masterful help, so forgive me i [...]

    4. I've been reading a lot of Anthony Trollope's books recently and the stories, characters and writing is so much superior to this that I just can't get into it. "Frothy" is a word that comes to mind, also "was he paid by the word?" like Dickens. I finished the book, finally. It was a chore. I did not find James' portrayal of a woman's personality convincing. That even though she had the financial power which was the reason why her husband had married her, she would still allow herself to be physi [...]

    5. I had many wonderful moments while reading this book, moments when the writing halted the reading, when I had to pause and admire and wonder. Moments when the book seemed to speak to my own experience as if it were written expressly for the girl who was me at twenty-two, causing me to wonder how Henry James could have guessed so well the presumptuous ideas I had about life and love at that early stage. All of that is very personal, of course, and not necessarily of interest to other readers, but [...]

    6. Ugh, ech, the elitism that breeds in readers! We think we're such nicey cosy bookworms and wouldn't harm a fly but we seethe, we do. Of course, readers of books just naturally look down on those who don't read at all. In fact they try not to think of those people (nine tenths of the human race I suppose, but a tenth of the human race is still a big number) because it makes them shudder. (How lovely it would be to go riding in a carriage through some dreadful council estate flinging free copies o [...]

    7. Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady is considered to be one of the first American novels to make full use of social and psychological realism as European authors - such as Flaubert, Balzac and George Eliot - were already practicing in their works. Considered to be his biggest accomplishment along with The Ambassadors, Portrait added Isabel Archer to the company of great fictional heroines - as the likes of Elizabeth Bennet, Becky Sharp and Jane Eyre - and, in a century marked by unsatisfied bour [...]

    8. Book Review3+ out of 5 stars for The Portrait of a Lady, a classic story called the "Great American Novel," written by Henry James in 1881. I adore Henry James and found great enjoyment in his literary works when I began reading him in my freshmen year at college. As an English major, I was exposed to many different authors, but I felt a strong connection with him and this literary period. American realistic works spoke to me above any of the other "classic" books I had been reading. As a result [...]

    9. **spoilers**Portrait is a beautifully written novel that exhibits Henry James unique writing style and addresses the social customs and differences in Americans, the English, and continental Europeans. Isabel Archer is a young American lady, for whom the novel is titled, who is adventurous and very independent. She turns down two marriage proposals in the 1st half of the book to preserve her independence, one from Casper Goodwood, a young wealthy American, and one from Lord Warburton, a wealthy [...]

    10. Exquisite, cozy, at times funny, at times sad, and unforgettable. I won’t bore readers with another summary of the story; they’re abundant on this site. I will say that with Isabel Archer, James earns his place in the canon with a proto-feminist (yes, I said it, proto-feminist) novel of a remarkable, if hard to describe heroine, who is faithful to her idea(l)s, rejects the affections of strong (but good) men, and suffers unnecessarily at the hands of a Machiavellian cad and an equally manipu [...]

    11. This is my first James (not counting his little book on Hawthorne and scattered essays on French novelists), and I started it out of a sense of dutiful curiosity. I was not prepared for it to be such an engrossing masterpiece. There so much good stuff here: the psychological portraiture, the descriptive scene painting, the simple human energy of the plot. James is such an odd bird because he was so steeped in the 19th century French fiction, was a social intimate of such Continental wellsprings [...]

    12. Ugh.If I could describe this book in one word it would be "Laborious." If I were allowed more space, which apparently I am, I would go on to say that in addition to being deathly slow and horrifically boring it is also a little brilliant, a little impressive, and, if you have the patience to look for it, more than a little interesting. There's a LOT in here. James wanted this novel to be the antidote to the Jane Austen romance. He wanted to show life as it is- money as a burden, marriage as a tr [...]

    13. The ancient Greek tragedian Euripides popped up in my mind while reading Henry James' (1843-1916) masterpieces Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady. (*) Readers of Euripides’ work have to ask themselves whether Euripides was a misogynist or if he showed true sympathy for the Athenian women who suffered from the rigorous patriarchy in Athenian society. I, on my part, was astonished by Euripides’ portrayal of women and their oppression and I came to the conclusion that Euripides indirectly [...]

    14. "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." ----- G.B.Shaw With no offence to men at all, I quoted the above because of its relevance with this work by Henry James.Essentially written about the idea of freedom / liberty, its assertion and realization, in the wake of limits imposed by conventions or moral ideals, specifically in case of women, is at the heart of this work. A beautiful Portrait, a work of art. An art work not because the protagonist is looked upon as an object b [...]

    15. This is the story of Isabel, an American who goes to England to meet new people and see more of the world. Isabel is very curious of nature, and when she gradually starts receiving different proposals from various men, she declines them all - that is because she wants to maintain her freedom which is very important to her. I really liked this story. I felt like it was very easy to read and connect with the main character as well as a lot of the other characters. The first pages of the story were [...]

    16. Henry James would probably get all well with Thomas Hardy The Portrait of a Lady is a tragedy almost ofTess of the d'Urbervilles proportions.Character study novels are extraordinary things, the plot is mostly fairly mundane but when you get to really know the characters, when they resonate with you, the personal crises they go through become fascinating because they are like people you know. It has that lovely fly on the wall appeal for nosey parkers like myself. However, it takes an immense tal [...]

    17. Four Portraits of a NovelAn Interview with Sigmund Freud circa 1911Vell, zis book by zis man--vhat vas his name? Henry James--vas very very interesting. He is obviously a deeply conflicted individual. Quite clearly an invert filled mit self-loathzing, desiring ze men und at ze zame time hating himself for doing zo. Ve haf ze heroine of ze novel, Isabel Archer, who is pursued by two men: both of zem handsome, manly (vun of zem is efen called Goodwood) and very rich. Both of zem prepared to gif he [...]

    18. I justI don't know. I have now read The Portrait of a Lady and I'm just feeling a little flat. Like I stubbed my toe on something invisible, and I'm not quite sure what. I'm not sure why this book didn't grab me, I only know it didn't. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

    19. This is the sexiest novel of all time. You’re screwing up your face right now, I can tell. It is though, it’s sexy as fuck. People often want to tell you that Henry James’ greatest flaw was his lack of passion. Nabokov, if I recall correctly, labelled his work blonde. I don’t think he meant that in the way that modern readers would understand it i.e. as a synonym for dumb, but rather as one for bland. Katherine Mansfield once said of E.M. Forster that he was like a lukewarm teapot [ha!], [...]

    20. When I finished this book, I threw it down on the table in anger and walked away muttering. I guess we all want books to end like well, books! Not like real life. We have enough real life around us. Aren't books for escaping all that?Maybe. This book is probably a classic because it is complex enough to actually resemble the real world. People make mistakes. Small mistakes. Big mistakes. Life-changing mistakes. They also show a lot of spirit and charisma, which is also real. None of the characte [...]

    21. I made it 40% of the way through this monstrosity before I had to finally throw in the towel. Apparently no one ever told James "show don't tell" judging by the complete lack of action in this book. In fact nothing ever happens. It just drags on and on in an annoying narrative voice that is too fond of metaphor and long descriptive phrases that frequently cloud more then they illuminate. The characters are complete twits, without a single redeeming quality among them. Judging by the way he write [...]

    22. “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance…” The picture he attempted to sketch could be only an eternity of pleasure, a wonderful blessing.It is September , it's hot . I wish I could be on a beach, sipping a drink, instead, I have to study , the deathly habit of doing the same thing in the same way every dayere are a few things I can do to alleviate the pain. Recently I found myself on the sofa , luxuriating in the portrait of a lady for the first time. This book made me [...]

    23. Todos querem casar com a Isabelinha que é rica e bonitinhaLord Warburton: — Isabel, quer casar comigo?Isabel Archer: — Não. Eu quero ser independente.Caspar Goodwood: — Isabel, case-se comigo.Isabel Archer: — Não. Eu quero ser livre.Ralph Touchett: — Eu gostava de me casar com a Isabel, mas não lhe vou dizer nada porque sei que ela não quer.Gilbert Osmond: — Isabel, tem de casar comigo.Isabel Archer: — Hum agora que já passeei um pouco bem que podia casarÉ assim o Retrato de [...]

    24. While reading The Portrait of A Lady, I kept thinking, this is a book that should be illustrated by John Singer Sargent. There is an opulence, a lushness and attention to detail here so in tune with the painter's work, and, too, there is a distance, a slight chasm between the subject and the audience.I won't summarize the plot, but for such a long book, I have to say, I was engaged and interested the whole time. Despite several characters' slight frostiness, the scenery was almost a character in [...]

    25. One of the most enthralling and enchanting novels that I've read in a long, long time. The Portrait of a Lady is early Henry James (written in 1881), and as cliche as it may sound, it is a veritable masterpiece. There is simply so much going on within the covers of this elegantly crafted and sophisticated novel that it will take me a while to sort out my swirling thoughts and emotions upon finishing it. Simply put though, this is the story of the young American woman, Isabel Archer, and her voya [...]

    26. I expected to like this more than I did. I found it needlessly long, occasionally pompous, and ultimately unsatisfying. Still, there's a lot of good stuff in here: the exciting independence of Isabel in the early chapters, her palpable misery in her marriage, the vivid and memorable secondary characters, and above all (for me, at least) the set pieces. James was always able to make me feel like I knew just what a room or garden looked and felt like -- though he also frequently made me feel as th [...]

    27. Henry James was a bottom.With thisapercuin mind, you needn't get fussed up as to why Isabel Archer returns to Osmond. ~~ With the exception of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's illuminating criticism ("Epistemology of the Closet," 1990) there hasn't been any fresh Jamesian crit in over 50 years.As the French would say, he's "de trop."

    28. "I'm so tired of old books about tea," said my friend Lauren recently, and I hope she stays the hell away from snobby constipated Henry James. Here he is with the least engaging first sentence in literature:"Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."Many of the other sentences are also about tea. But it's not all tea; while they drink tea they talk! And talk, and talk. James reminds me of your shitty cow [...]

    29. Honestly? Isabel Archer isn't extraordinary at all. So I take this book as kind of a comedy about how a bunch of English pranksters messed with a bland American girl, pretending she was amazing to see what would happen, and then felt pretty bad about it when it turned out wrong. Which is actually pretty close to the real plot, too. The "honest simple faithful guy" found here was way too similar to the farmer guy in "Far From The Madding Crowd" to me, and I guess that's just a stock character. I [...]

    30. I loved getting into Isabel's conflicted mind, her persuasions and her light switches turning on and off for reason. I can relate to that. I get goosebumps, or the shivers, when I can get that feeling outside. Like a soullish thing rubbing up against my skin. Ever feel like there could be ghosts? The freedom in already having lost feelings. Don't know what to do and need to get out, like Isabelle. I don't know what I think about the ending. Henry James could give judgementaly prickish endings to [...]

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