Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 8. Miscellaneous Writings; Collected Stories

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XII. Henry James

§ 8. Miscellaneous Writings; Collected Stories

James began his literary career as an anonymous contributor of reviews to The North American Review and The Nation; and such reviews and literary news-letters he continued to write for many years. Only a small part of his critical writing has appeared in book form; and it still remains for the curious to trace the development of his literary theory from the beginning. His books of fiction were frequently supplemented, too, with books of impressions, in which he might commune at length with the spirit of places,—English, French, American, Italian. He also wrote many plays, a few of which made brief appearances on the London stage. But they were “talky” and untheatrical; and he succeeded neither in purging the theatre of the commercialism he deprecated nor even in taking the public fancy himself. His first attempts at fiction were printed in The Atlantic Monthly and The Galaxy; but he hardly emerges as an author of account before the appearance of The Passionate Pilgrim in 1871. His first important novel was Roderick Hudson, published in The Atlantic in 1875. His first and only approach to popularity, whether in long or short story, was made by Daisy Miller in 1878. The New York Edition of his novels and tales, published during the years 1907 to 1909, is of the greatest interest because of the extended discussion of his own work and the account of his imaginative processes found in the Prefaces. It is, however, very far from being a complete collection even of his works of fiction. It is simply the choice made by James at that late date, and according to his taste as it had then developed, of such of his stories as he wished to be known by. It remains to be seen how far posterity will submit to his judgment in the matter.