Sunday, December 8, 2013

66. Daisy Miller, and other Stories by Henry James

Image: Librarything

This was my first dalliance with Henry James; a short story collection, in my experience not the best way to sample an author, I have been known to not be blown away by short stories written even by my favourite authors. Happily (for me), such was not the case this time around. Henry James made me feel for the characters, even in the space of his short stories, no mean feat that one! This particular edition listed the following four short stories:-

1. Daisy Miller
2. Four Meetings
3. Longstaff's Marriage
4. Benvolio

I had considered and dismissed the notion of writing a few lines for each of the four short stories, but it didn't seem possible to do justice to any of them without dropping spoilers or outlining the storyline, and I hate to do either of them by myself, or for it to be done to me by someone else.

And so I ended up writing two very short paragraphs (sentences?) scratching the surface to let the reader decide if this would be something s/he would be interested in. If they wanted to read a summary, they would go to Cliff Notes, right?

So anyways, there is one common thread  that runs across the stories; that being that all the characters are caricatures of sorts, surreal, exaggerated to make a point; and yet they don't seem out of place in those stories; Be it the freshness of Daisy Miller, the naivety of Caroline Spencer, the absurdness of the Longstaff or the ridiculousness of Benvalio; they all gel together in the end.

All the stories were so wonderfully poetic, romantic, tragic, and it makes me more than a little curious, how his lengthier works (generally my bread, butter and dessert) span out. I have also picked up my next Henry James work, The Portrait of a Lady.


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