Judith Woolf's elegantly written book introduces school and university students, as well as the interested general reader, to the major novels of Henry James (1843-1916), the American writer who became a great European novelist and died a naturalized Englishman.
The principal novels in which James explored his central theme, the betrayal of innocence, are discussed in a lucid way which offers fresh interpretations and communicates to the non-specialist reader the excitement rather than the difficulty of reading James. Difficulty is nonetheless often a feature of his work, and Judith Woolf does not shun important questions. She places him in the context of the history of the English novel (Fielding, Richardson, Dickens and George Eliot), focusing on traditions of tragic and comic vision and on the subtleties of expression and perspective enabled by the narrative form.
The book includes a short account of James's life, a list of his works and their dates, and a selected guide to further critism.