Henry James’s classic tale of romance in urban nineteenth-century America, Washington Square is edited with an introduction and notes by Martha Banta in Penguin Classics.
When timid and plain Catherine Sloper is courted by the dashing and determined Morris Townsend, her father, convinced that the young man is nothing more than a fortune-hunter, delivers an ultimatum: break off her engagement, or be stripped of her inheritance. Torn between her desire to win her father’s love and approval and her passion for the only man who has ever declared his love for her, Catherine faces an agonising dilemma, and becomes all too aware of the restrictions that others seek to place on her freedom. James’s masterly novel deftly interweaves the public and private faces of nineteenth-century New York society; it is also a deeply moving study of innocence destroyed.
This edition of Washington Square includes a chronology, suggested further reading, notes and an introduction discussing the novel’s lasting influence and James’s depiction of the quiet strength of his heroine.
Henry James (1843-1916) son of a prominent theologian, and brother to the philosopher William James, was one of the most celebrated novelists of the fin-de-siecle. His novella ‘Daisy Miller’ (1878) established him as a literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic, and his other novels in Penguin Classics include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Awkward Age (1899), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904).
If you enjoyed Washington Square, you might like Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, also available in Penguin Classics.
‘Washington Square is a perfectly balanced novel… a work of surpassing refinement and interest’
‘Perhaps the only novel in which a man has successfully invaded the feminine field and produced a work comparable to Jane Austen’s’